Increasing the value and impact of volunteer management


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The presentation was a workshop at Evolve 2014: the annual event for the voluntary sector in London on Monday 16 June 2014.

The presentation was chaired by Kristen Stephenson from NCVO, Rachael Bayley, Association of Volunteer Managers and Debbie Usiskin and looks at the management of volunteers

Find out more about the Evolve Conference from NCVO:

Find out more about NCVO's work on volunteering:

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  • Is the saving of money the sole motivating factor for volunteer engagement?
    If this is true, look at where volunteering is placed within your organisations, how is volunteering valued within your organisation – is the management model congruent to the value that volunteering has for you?
  • So, volunteers save us money, do we value this as an organisational contribution? Do we treat volunteers as though they are valuable to us? Do we plan our engagement with volunteers strategically and thoughtfully so that we can maximise savings?
    And if we do engage volunteers in order to save money how does that message affect the volunteers, how is it reflected in how staff treat volunteers, what does it say to staff – we want you to work with volunteers to save us money, or could we be presenting that in a different light that helps to ensure cross-organisational buy in to a volunteer programme
    Most importantly – is it true that the only reason to have volunteers is to save the organisation money?
  • In 2012 the ONS estimated that the economic contribution of volunteering is 23.9 billion- equivalent to 1.5% of GDP.
    A European survey including 3 organisations within the UK found that for every £1 invested in volunteering the return was between £3 and £8 – Volunteering Works: volunteering and social policy published as a result of the commission on the future of volunteering points out that this shows that in order to experience this benefit organisations need to invest in the resources to support volunteers and volunteering
    Help the Hospices commissioned a survey in 2006 wherein they found that the financial value of volunteers in hospices in England was around £112 million, the economic value of volunteers was equal to the contribution made by the NHS (around 25% of running costs).
    The 2010 citizenship survey found that 83% of people who volunteer regularly gave to charity, whereas only 60% of people who don’t volunteer regularly. It seems clear – if money is the motivating factor we need to be smart about how we engage volunteers.
    Community based organisations in particular rely heavily on volunteers, a central part of their mission can be the provision of a wide range of services to the local community, volunteers are truly cross cutting as well as cross sector.
  • Is money the only reason we involve volunteers in our work? By looking at only the financial implications of involving volunteers we may risk missing many of the wider benefits. If volunteers are viewed only as a cost cutting measure is it any wonder if staff feel that their positions are under threat – which of course impacts on the way in which they engage with volunteers.
    There is perhaps a need for a transparent debate which looks at what volunteer roles are appropriate, and what social value volunteers add. Within some parts of the public sector some people question what are appropriate roles for volunteers and whether volunteers are being taken advantage of as free labout.
    In many organisations the inclusion of volunteers ensures that the service that they offer is truly steeped within the communities that they serve. Works of artistic importance held in volunteer involving collections are truly ‘owned and beloved by the people’. In health and social care agencies involving volunteers can help to bring about a home from home experience where service users are more relaxed.
    If the unique added value of involving volunteers is acknowledged and understood it is likely that volunteering will be managed in a way that enables staff and volunteers to complement one another to the benefit of the organisation.
  • This is an under researched topic, but in 2009 a study undertaken at De Montfort University in collaboration with the Youth Action Network made a number of findings including the following:
    Volunteering enhanced local social capital by challenging preconceived attitudes, not only the attitude that many people had towards younger people, but also the attitudes of younger people towards one another by encouraging participants to create links with people outside their own immediate circles.
    Through volunteering young people fostered a sense of belonging and creating a safe environment in which to meet with others. Community cohesion is as vital to a vibrant community as economic and environmental measures and often higher levels of community cohesion are a result of younger people volunteering.

    20012 an international group of academics looked at the impact of being helped specifically by volunteers on those receiving support. They looked at the experiences of parents of children in hospital, and the support provided by volunteers at the Ronald MacDonald houses where other families members stay while the sick child is being treated.
    Parents reported that having a volunteer provide the service made them feel that people in the community cared for them, and that this was perceived as being a positive benefit – over and above getting the service itself.

    Also in 2012 Action for Children undertook an evaluation of the impact of involving volunteers in childrens’ centres. Their findings included the fact that local volunteers were more able to form peer to peer relationships and to use the commonalities that they identified to quickly build parents trust.

    Another reported benefit in both of these reports included the trust built within the local community as well as the increased rate of donations.
  • Both research and practice have demonstrated, and you will perhaps know from your own experience, that there is no one way to do this right! It is partly for this reason that volunteer management is such a challenging and rewarding profession.

    Why have a variety of models and approaches developed?
    The contexts in which Volunteer managers are working are diverse. Volunteer management takes place across all sectors.
    Volunteers may also be undertaking a range of roles within one organisation from the very informal to the very formal and regulated volunteering role.
  • From the informal and short term to more formalised and structured roles.

    This may therefore demand that a range of approaches/models need to be deployed within one organisation.

  • The volunteer manager also has to balance a range of influencing factors, both internal and external, and this will have an influence on the model of volunteer manager they choose.

    The challenge for Volunteer Managers is to identify which model to use when.
    This may therefore demand that a range of approaches/models need to be deployed within one organisation.
    This diagram outlines some of these models and aims to be a starting point to develop your understanding of what approaches and models are available for the volunteer manager to utilise and perhaps not just to utilise but event to adapt, build on and develop these, to innovate.

    Alongside this, it is equally important is for them to have a sophisticated understanding of how volunteers want to engage too.

    So what do the models look like in practice??- talk through models, with reference to research and examples.
  • Knowledge management is often spoken about in the business world, and we in the third sector often pride ourselves on being different
    In the respect of developing our organisations and ensuring that we continue to meet not only our own missions, but also the ever changing expectations of our external partners and stakeholders we need to create our own knowledge about our organisations, to inform the development of our overall organisational strategy.
    Perhaps we need to look at creating our own knowledge strategies.
    Cavaleri & Seivert with Lee W Lee (Knowledge Leadership: the art and science of the knowledge based organisation) propose a model they call FAST of maximising the knowledge we gain which involves examining new information from 4 different angles, and then digging deeper.
    Lets look at volunteering in this way
  • Examples of this:
    “volunteers provide the vital connection with a local community and enable a voluntary organisation to retain its distinctive mission and character” (elected member, public sector organisation, CFV 2008)
  • No contractual obligations so can be redeployed more easily than paid staff
    Refer to earlier slides re gaining trust – volunteers may be better placed to receive feedback from service users

    And as they are already placed within the local community volunteers are well positioned to hear from people who don’t use our services enabling us to develop new initiatives

    Examples of this:
    “well managed volunteers feed their local knowledge and views into the strategic planning and development of their organisation. This makes for better, more targeted economic and social action at local level” (volunteer, local voluntary organisation, religious congregation CFV 2008)
  • An organisation is sustainable when it is enabled to operate continuously, and when optimum levels of effectiveness are maximised.
    Volunteers contribute to that in many ways in different organisations – holding the fort during staff meetings, giving real time feedback on efficacy.
    To continue being effective in the future we need to renew our processes and ensure we have new sources of energy and other critical resources. Rather than looking at short term volunteerism in a negative light, we could be celebrating the opportunity that short term volunteers give our organisations to maintain a fresh perspective.
    Examples of this:
    “through using (sic) volunteers, (our organisation) and the various partners we work with can reach more young people on an ongoing basis, and promote the issues facing our service users more broadly and effectively than staff alone can.” (CFV 2008 employee, national voluntary organisation children and young people)
  • What is timely for one situation is not necessarily timely in another.
    Examples of this:
    “if your programme is badly organised or managed, the volunteers will feel their time is wasted and act accordingly” (CFV 2008 employee, business sector organisation)
  • Successful volunteering is having 4 things in place

    organisation requires a supportive culture, a clear reason and vision as to why in does involve volunteers

    Framework of best practice
    Including mandatory policies and procedures
    Recommended good practice guidance
    Resources – tools and forms etc

    hosts who are great managers of volunteers (Including all role and job titles, paid, unpaid pt ft etc)

  • Increasing the value and impact of volunteer management

    1. 1. Workshops PM1: Increasing the value and impact of volunteer management Kristen Stephenson, Volunteer Management and Good Practice Manager, NCVO Debbie Usiskin, Vice Chair, Association of Volunteer Managers Rachael Bayley, Director, Association of Volunteer Managers and Head of Volunteering Development, Save the Children
    2. 2. Increasing the Value and Impact of Volunteer Management Rachael Bayley AVM Kristen Stephenson NCVO Debbie Usiskin AVM Evolve conference 2014
    3. 3. Definitions: Volunteering – a verb or a noun? 3 • The term ‘volunteering’ describes a specialism which encompasses: Volunteering • Volunteering The activities of volunteers • Volunteer management: day to day The support provided for volunteers • Volunteering Development Strategic development of volunteering
    4. 4. Why do we involve volunteers?
    5. 5. What is the impact of this? • The why influences the how • How does this message affect volunteers • What does this message say to staff • Is it true?
    6. 6. Do volunteers save or make us money? • In 2012 the ONS estimated that the economic contribution of volunteering is 23.9 billion- equivalent to 1.5% of GDP. • A 2007 study found an ROI of up to £8 for every £1 invested in volunteering • A 2006 survey found that the economic contribution by volunteers was equal to statutory funding
    7. 7. Additional volunteer contribution • Reassurance to service users • Stay relevant to local people • Showing that the community cares • Quick route in to communities • Establishing community ownership • Influencing others to participate • Funders measuring soft outcomes
    8. 8. Evidence of impact • De Montfort University • International study RM House • Action for Children
    9. 9. What do you know about Volunteer management? Quick-fire quiz!!
    10. 10. Leaders in Volunteering™ Leading the way in professional development for volunteer managers
    11. 11. IVM
    12. 12. VMPVolunteer Management Professionals
    13. 13. How did you do?
    14. 14. Model management
    15. 15. Types of roles Informal & short-term Formal, structured & regular . Good neighbour Social action • Informal building of relationships, support and capacity in the community. • independent of any organisation • Neighbours • may have no training and will not have been vetted Roles requiring higher levels of training and possibly DBS check. • Trustees • Home visits & lone working • Hospital volunteers • Some fundraising roles • Handyperson volunteers • community transport • Counselling & advice • Befriending • Bridge building Support to a cause or organisation Drop in volunteer Lunch clubs Social & activity group support Admin support Organised citizens Neighbourhood watch Rotary First Responders
    16. 16. Leading knowledgably • We need to develop knowledge about what it is we are leading • To align knowledge with organisational strategies • Developing a knowledge strategy
    17. 17. Functionality • Achieving our purpose • Extending services • Remaining connected to our communities • Retaining a users perspective • Give feedback informing new developments
    18. 18. Adaption • Adapting to different circumstances • Adjusting as a result of feedback • Volunteers can be redeployed faster • Test new activities • Receiving feedback • Critical feedback from non service users
    19. 19. Sustainability • Operating continuously • Maintaining optimum levels of effectiveness • Processes are renewed • New sources of critical resources • Self organising is enabled
    20. 20. Timeliness • Occurring when expected or needed • Appropriate for the time and place • Maximising use of time
    21. 21. 2008 predictions
    22. 22. 21st Century Volunteer
    23. 23. Recipe for Successful Volunteering Culture, Vision Best Practice Framework Hosts: volunteer managers Volunteers
    24. 24. • Capable, competent & capacity • …are fit for purpose the organisation can achieve win win volunteering • Policies • Systems and procedures • Tools • Database • T&D for volunteer mgrs • Senior buy in • Anchored in strategy • Fundamental belief and commitment • Hard wired into culture Culture Best Practice Framework HostsVolunteers • skilled in Volunteer Management • able to lead & support volunteers • can access expert guidance • own volunteering in their team
    25. 25. What do you need? Vision, strategy, policies Systems, processes & resources Capacity, capable & competent people Growth, innovation, more delivery Organisational development
    26. 26. Prescription for Volunteering Readiness
    27. 27. Any questions?.... ......Thank you