Top seven issues facing volunteering

What are the big issues in volunteering today?

Well how about these for starters:

  1. How can we build and strengthen the volunteering infrastructure which underpins much of the social action which takes place in our communities?
  2. How can we develop meaningful partnerships between the volunteering movement and the statutory and business sectors, based on the principle of co-production?
  3. What role is there for volunteering in the delivery of public services? What are the opportunities and dangers? How can we reform the commissioning environment so that it takes appropriate account of the contribution that volunteers can make?
  4. What contribution can volunteering make to aiding employability? How can we safeguard the integrity of volunteering as an act freely given?
  5. How can we increase the value, impact and recognition of volunteer management?
  6. How can we re-shape the voluntary sector to take account of young people’s aspirations and ambitions?
  7. How can we harness the benefits of digital technology and get a better blend of online and face-to-face social action?

Be involved

If you have strong views on these, or any other volunteering-related issues, or if you just want to hear what others think, and reflect on the implications for your work, then make sure you are at the Brewery in London on 16 June for the Evolve conference, the biggest event of its kind in the volunteering and voluntary sector calendar. You might be especially interested in our Evolve workshops:

The conference will be a heady mix of great keynote speakers, interactive workshops and fringe meetings, a packed market place and, most important of all, space to meet and network with friends and colleagues. Participants will include CEO’s, volunteer managers, heads of Volunteer Centres and Councils for Voluntary Services, trustees and other volunteers. There will be representatives from the public, private, voluntary and community sectors and from no sector at all – all linked by a passion for, and commitment to, voluntary action, and a desire to learn from, and share, experiences and ideas.

The future of volunteering

There is unprecedented interest in volunteering from all parties, which presents both opportunities and dangers. Funding for volunteering is tighter than it has ever been, particularly for infrastructure organisations, and yet demand has never been higher. New technology is opening up new access routes and opportunities for people to participate, but the value of face-to-face volunteering has never been more apparent. Volunteering is both timeless and characterised by an ability to keep itself relevant for a rapidly changing world. Do join us to take part in the Big Volunteering Debate as we consider the future of this great movement.

Find out more about Evolve, including how to book your place.

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Justin was executive director of volunteering and development at NCVO and chief executive of Volunteering England. He is now a senior research fellow at City University Cass Business School’s Centre for Charity Effectiveness.

2 Responses to Top seven issues facing volunteering

  1. John Ramsey says:

    Great blog Justin.

    The key issue for me is how do we measure beneficiary impact in a robust, objective manner. Certainly the Volunteer Impact Assessment toolkit was a great start when VE devised it a few years ago (it changed my life!) but we need to now move into objective rather than just subjective measurements – and it’s a worry many organisations are still trying to get their heads around subjective measurement. It is tough but we’re being much more involved in looking at things like reduced emergency dept attendance, reduced hospital admissions, discharge from low intensity hopsital support etc

    Everything we talk about volunteering-wise ultimately is reliant on robust, objective beneficiary impact. So…
    1. Are we measuring beneficiary impact?
    2. What and how are we measuring it?
    3. What role does volunteering and volunteering management/leadership play in delivering impact?
    4. How can we be more effective? (eg how do we improve volunteering and volunteering management/leadership)

    And, of course, it’s important to realise that volunteering isn’t always the right answer.

    Obviously my other little favourite is increasing the value, impact and recognition of volunteer management/leadership. I did the ‘Funding Guidance for Volunteer Management’ four years ago and am updating it at the moment. The fascinating thing though is how few people can actually show evidence four years later that properly supported volunteer management/leadership makes a difference. We all believe it (if it’s done well) but how many can make a business case when it comes to funding whether internally or externally. Everyone thinks their department is vital, so what it often comes down to is who can prove it to the CEO/board/finance director the best. And how many volunteer managers can do that?

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