I recently attended a volunteer conference and the focus of the discussion was on NCVO’s recently launched THE TIME WELL SPENT survey a report detailing on why and how people get involved in volunteering and their journey from a non – volunteer to becoming a long term volunteer. Over 10,000 people across Britain took part in the first in-depth survey of its kind in a decade with an emphasis on volunteering experience.
Here is what I took away the event:
Good News – The vast majority (96%) of volunteers who had given time over the last 12 months said they are very or fairly satisfied with their main volunteering experience. This is the volunteering that took place through groups, clubs, and organisations and highlights the excellent work of volunteer-involving organisations. Seven in 10 volunteers say they have or would recommend volunteering to friends or family. So Give Yourself A Pat On The Back!
But there are some challenges we need to address ….the world is changing at an exponential rate, we expect everything to be fast and everything on the go and this includes volunteering too!
Simple & Quick Process – Volunteers and young people, in particular, want that the process of volunteering should be less bureaucratic, to have more flexible roles where they can dip in and out of opportunities over time. So as a volunteer–involving organisations we need to think of creating roles descriptions keeping in mind a volunteer who has got just a small chunk of time on hand, how they can get involved and make a difference in their local community.
Those who could benefit most are least likely to volunteer – Everybody knows the benefits of volunteering, it reduces isolation, improves confidence, improves job prospects, you learn new skills and overall it provides a sense of purpose. But the survey says, unemployed people and people with little or no qualification are less likely to volunteer and they are the one who can really benefit from volunteering. To tackle this issue, we need to work collaboratively and promote the benefits of voluntering to them.
Reward and Recognition – Volunteers like to be recognised for the skills and time they have put it. A simple “Thank You” goes a long way but what’s more rewarding to volunteers is to see the impact they have made through their volunteering to an individual they have supported as well as the community as a whole. So keep those thank you cards handy and put Volunteers’ Week celebrations ( 1-7th June ) in your diary but also think of innovative ways of showing volunteer impact like video case studies and showcasing achievements via website, social media, local press etc.