Are your volunteers worth it?

Version 3

Gethyn Williams is Head of Partnerships at The Join In Trust. Join In is the independent charity delivering the volunteering and social legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Follow him on twitter @gethynwilliams.

For Join In, it’s the #Evolve15 question you can’t afford to ignore…

Join In is delighted to be taking part in Are your volunteers worth it? – IVR’s impact-measurement seminar at NCVO’s #Evolve15 conference on 15 June.

The need to both accurately measure our volunteer impact and communicate it effectively to our stakeholders has been crucial for Join In over the last 12 months. Our panel contribution will walk you through how we’ve approached these issues.

Volunteering might only have had a small cameo role in the general election campaign, but as Karl Wilding notes it might be our ‘biggest single positive opportunity’ for the voluntary sector in this new government.

Join In launched Hidden Diamonds: uncovering the social value of sports volunteers in
October 2014. Due to the broad nature of the value they generate we see sports volunteers less as ‘givers’ and more as ‘investors’ – investors in themselves and their communities. We calculated that each sports volunteer generates £16k of social value every year.

We reached this figure by combining a number of traditional approaches (such as measuring the ‘replacement cost’ of volunteer time) and some new ones (including ‘subjective wellbeing’ models – the value derived by the volunteer from volunteering).

We supplemented these figures with value for the beneficiary (sports participants) and physical and mental health savings on the public purse.

The result is a rich picture which echoes much of what the Bank of England’s Chief Economist Andrew Haldane described last September in his own analysis of volunteering’s ‘eye-watering’ social value.

Since our launch we’ve been making these arguments above and below the radar in Whitehall, within policy circles, and with many national volunteer-involving charities. And our experience suggests there’s never been more appetite to measure and describe the value volunteers generate.

Volunteering’s time is coming. Look busy!

To those of us engaging volunteers it’s always been obvious what impact they can and do have on a whole range of key societal issues.

So as government, trusts, and foundations and others who have historically invested in volunteering struggle to ‘do more with less’ and ‘think the unthinkable’, we might just be reaching a tipping point when it comes to appreciating the power and potential of volunteering; not in the sense of replacing paid staff, but in shifting our whole outcomes focus to areas like generating wellbeing, where volunteering is naturally so effective.

That’s why this workshop feels so timely; by building your organisation’s ability to capture and communicate this value, you can help put yourselves in the vanguard of this critical mass.

Why you should be there

Join In’s contribution to Evolve will not only unpack the process of putting together Hidden Diamonds, it’ll also map out the campaign we built to get the messages across and where those messages are landing most effectively.

You’ll hopefully leave with:

  • a better understanding of the range of traditional and newer impact volunteer measurement approaches open to you
  • an overview of the pre-existing research you can use to start building your own case
  • an appreciation of where volunteering impact is increasingly influencing wider agendas such as wellbeing and public health.

We hope to see you there.

Book your place at Evolve 2015.

For more information on Join In please visit or contact Gethyn Williams.

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