#Heartwork: Ms Chee Yan Yi

27 Mar 2024

Ms Chee Yan Yi is an advocate for volunteering and community service and tries to commit to a certain amount of time to give back each year. Volunteerism is a value that runs through her family together with her husband and two daughters, who are also active through work and school. Yan Yi is currently an active volunteer in her neighbourhood; offers pro bono career coaching for those that need sponsorship and has been working with talenTtrust for the last few years, an organisation dedicated to facilitating skills-based volunteering opportunities.

Yan Yi has a firm belief that volunteerism builds responsibility for the betterment of our communities; allows for personal growth and development in communication, teamwork, and leadership; and helps to foster a stronger and more diverse social network. She feels that she has also been able to gain valuable insights into different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives, cultivating a deeper sense of purpose and empathy along the way.

Diverse Volunteering Endeavours

Yan Yi's volunteering journey over the years has taken on different guises, from organising large group corporate volunteering initiatives to hands-on tasks such as packing and delivering food to those in need and even house building and painting a school in Cambodia. More recently, she has moved to more skills-based volunteering efforts, including leadership development coaching; and running branding, messaging, and communication workshops, aimed at supporting various charitable causes.

Yan Yi volunteering with Epic Arts in Cambodia for a school painting project

Among the charities Yan Yi has been involved with are Tabitha, Willing Hearts, Epic Arts, SHINE Children and Youth Services, Extra.Ordinary People, SevenCleanSeas, and Caregivers Alliance.

A Collaborative Partnership with talenTtrust

Yan Yi was first introduced to talenTtrust while at her last role in a corporate. She, together with several colleagues, started volunteering their skills to various charities in Singapore. Through talenTtrust, the organisation's structured approach simplified the process, allowing her to focus on leveraging her skills to drive meaningful change.

"By aligning specialised strengths and skills with areas of need, skills-based volunteering can help drive greater impact on productivity, efficiency, and standards within charitable organisations,” Yan Yi shared.

According to Yan Yi, what makes volunteers continue to volunteer is multifaceted. Firstly, the work must align with personal values and passion, fostering engagement and commitment. Secondly, volunteers need the capacity, which includes time and space in their current life phase, to dedicate to the cause. Lastly, the work must demonstrate impact and value, motivating volunteers to do more.

Yan Yi's journey exemplifies these principles. She found fulfilment through talenTtrust, leveraging her expertise and passion to drive meaningful change. Over the past four years, Yan Yi actively volunteered, contributing to various projects such as conducting leadership workshops to spearheading branding and communications initiatives.


Yan Yi (centre) conducting a leadership masterclass workshops with other mentor volunteers for next level leaders

“talenTtrust makes it easy for you to do skills-based volunteering. Their secret sauce is their project managers that take out all the hard work so you can just focus on volunteering your specific skills needed. talenTtrust find the charities, help define the challenge, assemble the relevant mentor volunteer group and most importantly, project manage to delivery. The process is defined, tracked and project based in a clear manner. It has been 4 years since I started volunteering with talenTtrust and hope to continue to do so this year,” shared Yan Yi.

Overcoming Challenges and Maximising Impact

Yan Yi acknowledges the challenges inherent in skills-based volunteering, particularly when there's a lack of clarity regarding organisational needs. She emphasises the importance of proactive engagement, working closely with organisations to define objectives and deliverables effectively. Additionally, Yan Yi underscores the significance of time management and selective engagement, dedicating approximately 20% of her time to pro bono work annually.

“When there isn’t a clear and focused understanding of what the need and ask is from the organisation, it’s more difficult to help in an effective way. The way we have overcome them is with trying to work with the organisation more upstream to help them define need and the brief. In some cases, there is a realisation that perhaps they are not ready for the help so we must know when to pause initiatives,” Yan Yi shared.

Memorable Experiences and a Sense of Fulfilment

Yan Yi (2nd from right) at the Meet and Greet session with President Tharman and his wife, Ms Jane Ittogi as part of the International Volunteer Day

Yan Yi cherishes the unexpected moments of joy that volunteering brings, such as working with other professional like-minded volunteers, big smiles of recipients, or having the honour of a memorable Meet-and-Greet session as part of the International Volunteer Day at the Istana with President Tharman and his wife, Ms Jane Ittogi.

Yan Yi believes in the transformative power of volunteering, noting its ability to create a disproportionate positive impact with, perhaps, not-so-great time or energy. By aligning strengths and skills with areas of need, volunteers like her can drive productivity, efficiency, and standards within charitable organisations.

Embracing Opportunities for Growth and Learning

Yan Yi (first from right) with fellow mentors from talenTtrust at the mentors’ network breakfast

Beyond the tangible benefits, volunteering offers invaluable opportunities for personal and professional growth. For Yan Yi, it's a chance to meet like-minded professionals, deepen her understanding of charitable needs, and hone her leadership coaching skills with diverse groups of people.

Yan Yi's journey as a skills-based volunteer is one example of the impact of volunteering on individuals and communities alike. Through her consistent commitment, she continues to inspire others to join the noble cause of making the world a better place, one act of kindness at a time.

Whether you're a Volunteer Manager seeking to enhance your organization's capabilities or an individual looking to make a meaningful impact through volunteering, explore our comprehensive Volunteer Resource Hub featuring the Skills-Based Volunteerism Toolkit and useful links to support your journey.