Opportunities and challenges for
volunteering
ARVAC Annual lecture
Nick Ockenden
29th
May 2014
Volunteering in a changing world
What are we talking about?
• A commonly accepted working definition:
[Volunteering is] ‘an activity that involves spending...
When is volunteering not volunteering?
• Volunteers cannot receive a salary
• Some receive a regular allowance (‘voluntary...
How much is taking place?
(Data from Citizenship Survey (2001 – 2010-11) and Community Life Survey (2012-13).
Respondents ...
…unlike trends in voting
…or trends in ethical spending
(Ethical Consumerism Report 2011, Co-operative Bank)
Is volunteering an equal playing field?
33% of the
population
What’s happening to volunteering infrastructure?
• Continued decline in the mean average income of Volunteer
Centres
• £10...
And volunteer management?
• Volunteer management often ‘added-on’ to existing jobs and
seen as being under-valued
• Over o...
Formalisation of volunteering is good and bad
• Volunteers seem to be happier about way their volunteering is
being organi...
Volunteering and public services
• Long history of effective involvement…but changing
• Continued cuts in funding
• Calls ...
What does this all mean for volunteering?
• More will be asked of volunteers and volunteering
• Is there a limit to what t...
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Opportunities and challenges for volunteering

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This presentation was part of the ARVAC Annual lecture held on the 29th May 2014.

The presentation was by Nick Ockenden, NCVO and looks at what the current opportunities and challenges for volunteering.

Find out more about the Institute of Volunteering Research http://www.ivr.org.uk/

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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  • Technology
    New forms of engagement
    Demographics
    An ageing population
    Changing public services
    Volunteers in new roles
    Job replacement
    Economic challenges
    Being asked to do more for less
    Volunteers managing other volunteers
  • Recent increase in the number of people volunteering
    At least once a year: 44% (2012-13); 39% (2010-11)
    At least once a month: 29% and 25%
    Return to the 2005 ‘high’
    The key message is stability of rates since 2001 and its resilience
    Can or should it increase any further?
  • The idea of the ‘civic core’
    Just over one-third of the population provides nearly 90% of the volunteer hours
    And just over 80% of the amount given to charity
    And 77% of participation in different civic associations
    More likely to be highly educated, in professional and managerial occupations, middle-aged, have lived in their area for more than 10 years, and practicing religion
    Live in the least deprived areas of the country
    What about less formalised, community-based volunteering?
  • Opportunities and challenges for volunteering

    1. 1. Opportunities and challenges for volunteering ARVAC Annual lecture Nick Ockenden 29th May 2014
    2. 2. Volunteering in a changing world
    3. 3. What are we talking about? • A commonly accepted working definition: [Volunteering is] ‘an activity that involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit the environment or individuals or groups other than (or in addition to) close relatives’ (The Volunteering Compact Code of Good Practice, 2005) • Three defining principles •Unpaid •Freely given •For the benefit of others or the environment
    4. 4. When is volunteering not volunteering? • Volunteers cannot receive a salary • Some receive a regular allowance (‘voluntary workers’) • Some forms of reward may have financial value (but also good practice) • Some volunteers allowed paid time off work to volunteer • Volunteering needs to a free choice • ‘Mandated volunteering’ – parts of some education courses • Some cases of individuals being told to volunteer in order to comply with job seekers or Work Programme agreements • Expectation to volunteer in some employer-supported volunteering schemes
    5. 5. How much is taking place? (Data from Citizenship Survey (2001 – 2010-11) and Community Life Survey (2012-13). Respondents for each period range from 6,915 - 9,664) Highest rate 44% Only varies by 5%
    6. 6. …unlike trends in voting
    7. 7. …or trends in ethical spending (Ethical Consumerism Report 2011, Co-operative Bank)
    8. 8. Is volunteering an equal playing field? 33% of the population
    9. 9. What’s happening to volunteering infrastructure? • Continued decline in the mean average income of Volunteer Centres • £100,028 in 2011-12, a fall of over £34,000 from previous year • 63% of Volunteer Centres experienced a cut in funding in 2011-12 compared to 2010-11 • 40% had a fall in funding of 25% or more • Received an average of 1,086 volunteering enquiries (IVR’s 2011-12 Annual Return of Volunteer Centres)
    10. 10. And volunteer management? • Volunteer management often ‘added-on’ to existing jobs and seen as being under-valued • Over one-third of volunteer managers are unpaid • Organisations have difficulty in recruiting enough volunteers (55%) • …and in recruiting volunteers with the right skills (57%) • Challenges tend to be more pronounced amongst smaller organisations (‘below the radar’)
    11. 11. Formalisation of volunteering is good and bad • Volunteers seem to be happier about way their volunteering is being organised • 2007 – 31% said volunteering could be much better organised (Helping Out, 2007) • 1997 – 71% (National Survey of Volunteering, 1997) • But…some changes for the worse • 27% feel there is too much bureaucracy (Helping Out, 2007) • Volunteering becoming more ‘work-like’ • Recruiting volunteers with specific skills • Less space for volunteers with experiential learning • Do we risk losing the ‘spirit of volunteering’?
    12. 12. Volunteering and public services • Long history of effective involvement…but changing • Continued cuts in funding • Calls for citizens to become more involved – localism, co-production, partnership delivery • Involvement is a spectrum: supporting running services to leading their delivery • Opportunities and challenges • More democratic, accountable services or the state absolving responsibility? • Bottom-up community empowerment or top-down agenda? • Volunteers as added-value or replacing paid jobs? • Increased responsibility or an unnecessary burden?
    13. 13. What does this all mean for volunteering? • More will be asked of volunteers and volunteering • Is there a limit to what they can or should do? • New policies, socio-economic developments, and programmes will test the boundaries of volunteering • How do we protect the underpinning principles of volunteering? • The challenging economic climate will not go away • How do we put into practice the principle of ‘freely given but not cost free’? • Interest in increasing rates of volunteering will continue • How do we promote quality and access as well?

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