As someone who actively encourages others to volunteer, my own experiences provides me with reminders of what supports or blocks people’s ability to volunteer or give back in some way. It also allows me to be authentic when encouraging and promoting volunteering and in my training of volunteer managers.
During Volunteer’s Week I received a certificate of thanks for the Trustee volunteering I do with Citizens Advice. Feeling that what I do can make a difference for others is the biggest reward I can ask for – but a thank you is very much appreciated – a reminder that what I and many other volunteers offer, is valued by the organisation we give time to. It also tells me that the organisation is doing what it can to demonstrate to us it’s authentic aim to include and value volunteers.
Not all experiences of volunteering are valued – I have my own stories to tell and get to hear from many others. The biggest issues seem to be that when we volunteer our time we may end up feeling underutilised, that the organisation is unorganised or our tasks are boring. Recent research highlighted in Third Sector unlines these issues
I’ve also found that organisations do not always follow up on offers even when they say they want to involve you. I’m very supportive of the idea that not everyone that puts themselves forward is necessarily the best person for the role the organisation needs filled. However, if an organisation says it wants volunteers - then a timely follow through is essential. This is a relatively common complaint (against the standard that this should be a rare error) – a volunteer will feel better valued if they are told that they are not right for the role, that there is no vacancy or that another organisation may need them, rather than having no response to their offer to help…Time for organisations to ensure their authenticity in making an appeal for volunteers and following though!
If you are supporting volunteering as part of your Corporate Social Responsibility agenda, does the feedback you get from staff tell you that their time is fully maximised, and that they are as satisfied as you all hoped?
If you involve volunteers – have you checked the timeliness and effectiveness of follow ups to offers of help?
A great new recruitment campaign
Following some consultancy work I carried out with British Heart Foundation, they have initiated a new recruitment campaign with appeals from existing volunteers. They offer a great example of valuing their existing volunteers by asking them to help appeal to others, and of giving clear indications on how volunteers can help. The video of volunteers talking about why they got involved and what they do is great!
Volunteering and Coaching
I’m about to embark on investigating potential ways of offering pro bono coaching with a group of like minded coaches – for me a great way to combine my coaching, management and volunteering experience. More to follow…
Do let me know your thoughts on any of the issues above: