Employees from Z Energy and Skylight Trust partner up to do good

“We often talk about Global Warming and the big, scary problems that seem overwhelming. But actually, good can start by doing little things."

- Caroline Speight, Skylight Trust

Two people from Skylight Trust and Z Energy recently joined forces through HelpTank to do some good – and the results were outstanding.

Caroline Speight, Contracts Manager for Skylight Trust, needed to develop a business case to apply for a grant from the Ministry of Education. However, she had never done anything like this before.

So, she took to HelpTank to find the professional skills she needed to complete the case, apply for the grant and feel confident about the work.

That is when Caroline found Keith O’Dowda, Applications Support Manager at Z Energy.

“I had a chat with Sue (Chief Executive of Who Did You Help Today), she wrote up what I needed, we got it listed on HelpTank - and within about two hours, Keith (he’s a bloody legend) clicked on the job. We were matched up, and the following week we had coffee. I told him about the business case, Skylight’s plan to develop a Resilience Hub and gave him a summarised history of Skylight along with a whole lot of other background information (without pausing for breath); and he didn’t walk away!” Caroline said.

Keith is a self-proclaimed “jack of all trades.” In addition to the technical and operational aspects of his job, he also does business analysis and even project management, and takes care of a big team. When he saw that Skylight was looking for someone to put a business case together, he thought it was a great fit for him.

“Putting business cases together is something I kind of dabble in here at Z. I think it was a great opportunity to see how I could apply those skills to an external organisation, and see if they stack up there as well. So, I felt like I was getting quite a bit from it, as well as helping Skylight,” he said.

Since Keith has an abundance of skills to offer, he was excited when Z Energy’s volunteering programme shifted in the way of skills-based volunteering. However, he wasn’t sure how his skills would translate. That’s why he said HelpTank was a great tool in his search.

“I really wanted to volunteer; I wanted to get out there and help organisations, but I am really busy. So, I think signing up for HelpTank was great because I was struggling to understand how I could apply my skills to an NGO or a charity out there. Signing up for HelpTank took a lot of that extra work off my shoulders in terms of matching me up with somebody who really needed me,” Keith said.

Caroline was ecstatic about the work, and was able to cost out the value of it. Skylight had 14 hours of Keith’s time, and that equals:

  • 3 adults getting 5 counselling sessions each OR
  • 1 training workshop up to 10 people for the Parenting Through Separation Workshop OR
  • 2 people bereaved through suicide attending the 8-week facilitated Waves programme

“What the work with Keith has done for Skylight is improve the quality of our business case to a level that is recognized by the Ministry of Education - because they’re able to take what we’ve done and turn it into a business case for their funding board. If we give them all the right information, it makes it a really quick and easy job for them to say ‘yes’ and potentially fund us,” Caroline said.

And fund them they did! Skylight was approved for the Ministry of Education funding to start the development of the organisation’s Resilience Hub.

“We often talk about Global Warming and the big, scary problems that seem overwhelming. But actually, good can start by doing little things. Keith might not be doing RFPs and business cases on a daily basis anymore – he might be doing other stuff in his day-to-day job. But his experience, and what he could do to help us was really, really fantastic,” Caroline said.

Keith felt that the “feedback loop” with Caroline was perfect, and a very important part of his success. He said she was comfortable enough to be open with him whether or not something was working. That made him feel more secure in proposing ideas because he knew she was comfortable enough to say what would or wouldn’t work.

As a volunteer, Keith said that it’s always good to have an initial conversation with the organisation you’re helping before you start, so that you understand what they really need from you and you can both set an expectation around how it will play out.

On top of the stellar work relationship that was formed, Keith completed the project feeling like his HelpTank was full.

“It felt great to be able to able to help them. They’re a great organisation in terms of what they do. When Caroline emailed me, and said they got the sign off and approval, it was on a Friday afternoon and that made my whole weekend. To feel like I’ve contributed to that and really helped the organisation was fantastic. And it didn’t cost them anything – it was just my time.”

Caroline felt the same way.

“He’s doing good stuff, with an organisation that’s helping people...and that just makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it?” she said.

Thank you, Keith and Caroline, for teaming up to do good! And congratulations to Skylight Trust for being approved for the three-year contract to develop their Resilience Hub.