OPINION: Anyone can put their skills to use when giving to charity
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OPINION: Anyone can put their skills to use when giving to charity

Philanthropist  Israel Moskovitz says donating one's time is just as important as giving financial help, and building your skills while volunteering helps you for life

The Talmud teaches us that “Tzedakah equals all the other commandments.” However, it is easy to become tired when it feels like there is a constant set of appeals coming through our doors. Whilst financial donations are crucial to all charities, we can’t underestimate the value of your time.

I continue to work with numerous charities and philanthropic ventures. But, one of the most fulfilling endeavours has been my time as a Prison Chaplain. For over 20 years, I have been offering pastoral support to Jewish inmates. My experience as a chaplain provided me with the opportunity to meet with people from all walks of life and offer them the support they need. Skills that I developed in my professional career have been invaluable when offering guidance to inmates, something which continues to be wonderfully engaging to this day.

Similarly, during my involvement at Side by Side, a hugely impressive special needs school in East London, and Bonei Olam, a charity devoted to helping couples overcome fertility issues, I have been able to invest my energies to causes close to my heart. But the key here is that there is more to giving than money. My time makes a big difference and I look at my time as an investment in the same way as other charitable donations. Whether you’re young or old, giving a small amount of time can have a huge impact to people who need it most.

Often, people have the skills and expertise to make a real impact in a charity without even knowing it. It was reported in these pages a few years ago that a charity had set up a scheme to support Syrian refugees entering the UK. The venture was an opportunity for individuals to share the experience from their day job to those who needed help. For instance, providing asylum seekers with advice on their legal status can be a priceless service to a family with no means of knowing their legal rights in a foreign country. Moreover, charities, like any other business, require fundamental skills such as accountancy and book-keeping. Utilising the skills from your day job is a fantastic way to give back to charity.

Whatever your line of work, you are likely to have a skill that can help transform a charity. Take my line of work for instance. Property managers can help with the negotiation of new utility contracts, source maintenance work and provide business insight.

And of course, as many business owners will know, one of the most transformative things you can offer someone in need is a helping hand. Our office has benefited from the skills of those who are regularly helped by the charities I am involved it. In whatever capacity this is, providing people in need with an opportunity can change a life. In my own experience of prison chaplaincy, I have seen that all that stands between someone who has made mistakes in the past and a decent life in the future is a good support network.

Donating my time, support and guidance can truly help correct someone’s path as much as my financial support.

The nature of Tzedakah is that one size does not fit all. As the Talmud teaches us, there is no greater endeavour we can be involved with. But the opportunity is huge. There is so much we can be involved with and I know from experience that the giver benefits as much as those who receive it. However, this needn’t depend on money. Charity begins with you, and the unique skills you have. Virtually anyone can give their time or skills to charity, and I can guarantee you will be better for it.

  •  Israel Moskovitz is a philanthropist giving his time as a Prison Chaplain, a board member of Side by Side, a patron of Bonei Olam amongst other roles.
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