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Access to Experts
Access to Experts is an online resource for social enterprise practitioners to gain practical skills in the engagement of external — both probono and paid — specialists to enhance business outcomes, success and experience.
This resource maps the four stages of engagement. These are:
1. Engaging specialist skills
2. Developing job descriptions & agreements
3. Accessing the resources
4. Reflections and learnings
Engaging Specialist Skills
New and burgeoning social enterprises require a compendium of skills to turn conceptual ideas into a sound and robust business model. Existing social enterprises need additional skills as the business grows and develops into new market segments. And social enterprise practitioners require a consistent range of advice and services to add to the existing knowledge bank within the organisation.
Finding the appropriately skilled organisations and individuals can be a challenging task. And for some enterprises the cost of engaging and buying the skills may also be a barrier to adopting the new business model or examining new market opportunities.
To aid with this capacity building, Social Traders offers a range of free and fee-for-service activities. These services are:
· A series of workshops and events
· Coaching, consulting and business review
· Online linkages to business and social enterprise support agencies
Alongside this service offering are a number of national directories and organisations which help match the skill requirements to the business offering. These directories are:
There are also numerous corporate community partnerships which have the capacity to contribute skilled and specialist individuals to the sector. Take some time to identify organisations within the community to discuss opportunities in community partnership arrangements.
Developing Job Descriptions & Agreements
A number of sample documents have been prepared to guide social enterprise practitioners in the development of job descriptions and agreements to enable appropriate engagement with experts. These documents are a guide only to reflect the brief required to source an appropriately skilled specialist and ensure the organisation is protects intellectual property and confidentiality.
Accessing the Resources
Before establishing contact with volunteering directories and community partnerships, it is worthwhile considering the following information to ensure your social enterprise opportunity is clear and concise, and you have the relevant legal and agreements in place.
- Be very clear about what work you want the specialist to undertake. Write a position description including the number of hours required to undertake the task, outline who will be working with and supporting the specialist, and what is expected at the completion of the task such as a report, recommendations, or a strategy.
- Ensure you understand the legal status of the specialist. If engaging volunteers, the organisation is required to have in place a volunteering policy document or hold a copy of the guiding principles of volunteering.
- Key areas to consider are:
a. The legal status of a volunteer or consultant
b. Negligence and duty of care
c. Equal opportunity laws
d. Legal checks
e. Intellectual property rights
g. Confidentiality agreements.
Additional information regarding these points can be found at:
Now that there is clarity about what skills are required, and the organisational requirements are understood, the next phase is to seek the appropriate skills.
ProBono Australia has developed an online source directory to bring together the not-for-profit and the commercial sector with a compendium of skills. Having developed a job description (see section 2) search the directory for the required skills. And as with all staff, ensure the appropriate due diligence is conducted before engagement is undertaken.
Reflections and Learnings
Learning from experiences can provide some guidance to others’ about gaining the best skills from the best people. If you have any reflections and learnings about your experience in accessing experts — please provide some comments here about what went right, what didn't and why.