A person centred approach to thanking volunteers

patricia-kiss-blog-2016-01-07-person-centered-approach-thanking-volunteersOn November 26 I presented the Investing in Volunteers (IiV) award to the Museum of London at a thank you event for their volunteers. Going in I felt that this was a perfect opportunity for the museum to raise awareness of their recent achievement and promote their commitment to volunteering. However I came away with so much more than I bargained for and an overwhelming urge to volunteer with the museum!

It was clear that the Museum of London had adopted a person centred approach to the thank you event and I thought I would use this as an opportunity to promote lessons learnt from the event.

Engaging volunteers in the process

The Museum of London, a current NCVO member and IiV achiever, have got right what some organisations struggle with; they’ve obviously engaged their volunteers in discussions on how they want to be thanked.

With over 90% of volunteers turning up for the thank you evening it further demonstrates a reciprocal commitment from both the museum and the volunteer’s, something which is highlighted within indicator one of IiV.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to ask people what they want from the support offered. We see this in the criminal justice system, where ex-offenders are increasingly being involved in their resettlement plan; the NHS, where patients are being asked what care they want to receive; and schools, where children are at the centre of deciding the support they need.

So with more and more volunteers becoming integral to all of these services why wouldn’t we ask ‘how do you want to be thanked?’

Demonstrating commitment to volunteering

Ahead of the event I read the final report written by an IiV assessor on the Museum of London, as part of the process of them achieving the Quality Standard.

It was full of good practice examples of approaches they take to fully embed volunteering into their work as explained within indicator nine of IiV, the organisation demonstrates an awareness of the importance to give volunteers recognition. From board level, to volunteer managers, to the volunteers themselves; everyone feels the pledge the museum has made to their volunteers.

One volunteer said: ‘They make you feel part of the museum and I’m treated both seriously and professionally’.

I have no doubt that the museum will continue to value their volunteering practices and achieving the IiV Quality Standard has encouraged the museum to be more scrupulous about good practice. Including raising awareness of the work of volunteers among staff within the museum and developing a framework for future strategy and action.

See more information on IiV, including the benefits of bench marking volunteer programmes against a quality framework that is independently accredited.


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Patricia is NCVO’s Investing in Volunteers programme manager. She is responsible for managing both the Investing in Volunteers and Investing in Volunteers for Employers Quality Standards. Patricia has worked in the voluntary sector in volunteer management roles for over 10 years and is passionate about supporting volunteering.

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