Is training being overlooked for volunteer managers?

NCVO recently ran a survey on the learning and development priorities and preferences of volunteer managers. The term ‘volunteer managers’ applies to people managing or supporting volunteers, regardless of whether they are paid or not, our respondents are drawn from across sectors and some are volunteers themselves.

What does the survey tell us?

Of the 723 volunteer managers surveyed:

  • 47% told us they had a training budget
  • 38% said they did not have one
  • 15% did not know if they had one

These findings highlight the fact that training and development for volunteer managers doesn’t appear to be a priority for many organisations.

This is a useful starting point for talking about how resources are allocated. Some of the things we need to know more about are:

  • how much budget is set aside for training and developing volunteer managers
  • who makes the case for developing volunteer managers
  • where this responsibility sits within an organisation
  • how organisations are using their budgets
  • how much influence volunteer managers have over spending decisions.

What’s the problem?

The survey also tells us that time and cost are the main factors preventing participation in learning and development for volunteer managers.  Of the volunteer managers surveyed:

  • 83% manage volunteers directly each day
  • a quarter manage more than 30 volunteers each day
  • 28% manage volunteers in large organisations with an income of more than £5m.

Almost half of the people surveyed represent organisations working with more than 100 volunteers across their organisations. If five hundred volunteer managers are supporting one hundred volunteers on a daily basis, that’s 50,000 volunteers per day! It’s easy to see why volunteer managers have so little time to invest in their own development.

A possible solution?

We need to make the case that training and developing volunteer managers pays much more loudly, with real life stories showing how and why.

Making training and development more time efficient and cost effective is something which would help to improve engagement with training for volunteer managers.

NCVO is currently exploring developing online learning solutions. We have developed a bespoke webinar on volunteering and the law for the National Trust and have plans to expand our video training by offering new Studyzone courses, which would be a time efficient way for volunteer managers to access training.

More about the survey

The survey took place during June 2015 and went out widely beyond the NCVO membership, to organisations that engaged with Volunteers’ Week, our national campaign celebrating volunteers. We received 723 responses over a period of one month.

Our survey is part of a broader scoping exercise in which we’re asking those who are involved in leading and supporting volunteering within their organisations to tell us how we can support them in their learning and development.

Are you a volunteer manager?

We are in the process of setting up an online volunteering development discussion group to enable volunteer managers to further explore the survey findings and look at some of the common issues they face. This will enable us to translate challenges into solutions, to support volunteering across the sector.

At NCVO we offer tailor-made training and consultancy to help organisations think through rationale and approaches to volunteering, from board level to operations. We help clients develop good practice in their volunteering programmes, including strategy, impact, micro-volunteering and understanding the law.

Contact us for a free initial consultation

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Jarina is our volunteering development consultancy officer. Jarina develops consultancy and training services with the aim of improving volunteering practice across the public, private and voluntary sectors.

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