The growing demand for local volunteering support

These are challenging times and communities need to be resilient, pull their resources and work together. Organisations too are feeling a need to change, to create new partnerships, to work differently together to continue to meet their objectives. This is currently true in the statutory, private and in the voluntary and community sectors. Different ways of working, new initiatives are needed.

How to grow a volunteer

Most volunteering still happens at a local level. People want to volunteer either near where they live or near where they work. To keep people volunteering you need to give them a good experience. So recruiting volunteers is important and here new technology and social media are the future but the quality of the experience – the volunteer opportunity takes precedence if you want to grow volunteering. Here, the role of the local Volunteer Centre is pivotal.

Volunteer Centres provide local support for volunteering and their services have never been in greater demand. More people are turning to volunteering to effect the transitions they have to make through life in a complex and competitive world. Local voluntary organisations are increasingly being asked to support the delivery of local services. Communities are rediscovering their strength and potential when they work together to find solutions to their identified need.

The unique selling point of Volunteer Centres

Volunteer Centres have expertise in good practice in volunteer management, combined with:

  • local knowledge
  • local reach
  • trust.

NCVO nationally accredits Volunteer Centres through the VCQA quality mark which embodies their USP through the five core functions of local volunteering support:

  • Strategic engagement – engaging local networks and decision makers to keep volunteering flourishing and relevant
  • Good Practice development – consistency in volunteering programmes
  • Developing opportunities – improve the quantity, quality, and diversity of volunteering locally
  • Voice – increase awareness of the issues impacting on volunteering
  • Brokerage – Provide access to an effective and efficient brokerage service by matching individuals and groups interested in volunteering with appropriate opportunities in their local community

Putting the cart before the horse in the digital age

Successive governments have sought to grow volunteering through recruitment and we in the voluntary sector have been complicit in this strategy mainly because of funding imperatives. New technology is a powerful tool in attracting a new generation whose factory settings are digital but it’s what happens after recruitment that will grow volunteering sustainably.

We need new technology to enhance and facilitate the volunteer journey, but it is the volunteer experience which will make the difference. Here local support for volunteering is key. All organisations, national or local, existing new or emerging, need ongoing support to develop their local volunteer opportunities and programmes to reflect the changing needs, aspirations and diversity of local people.

Find out more

For more information on Volunteer Centres, you can contact me at

This entry was posted in Practical support and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Like this? Read more

John Carlin John is NCVO’s volunteer centre support manager. He is responsible for NCVO’s strategy for maximising the impact and sustainability of Volunteer Centres and other local organisations in England.

3 Responses to The growing demand for local volunteering support

  1. Rob Jackson says:

    Thanks for this John. You are so right that the experience a volunteer gets is absolutely crucial and Volunteer Centres have a key role to play in supporting Volunteer Involving Organisations to deliver this. One of the key challenges in getting Volunteer Centres to focus on this is that where they are funded its usually for their brokerage function. How can we with that funding to be targeted at the more important aspects of a Volunteer Centres role – good practice development and helping organisations create great volunteer roles – so they are supported to do the work that’s needed most?

  2. John Carlin says:

    Hi Rob. Some local authorities have realised the need to change focus but as you know we need more conversations with local commissioners and decision makers not only within local authorities but also with other service providers. We are trying to engage government at all levels but I feel within the sector we need to embrace our strengths and become more confident in pitching them. We need to demonstrate how new cross-sector partnership models will work and can deliver.

  3. Pingback: John Carlin NCVO on The Growing demand fo local Volunteering Support ‹ Volunteer Centre