NCVO’s volunteering development support: Where we are now

What does 2016 hold for NCVO’s volunteering support? In this blog post I look back on my first year at NCVO and share what the Volunteering Development Unit has done to support learning and development within volunteering organisations.

Volunteers reimagined

The volunteering landscape is enormous. The Charity Commission tells us there are approximately 160,000 registered charities in the UK. NCVO Almanac data 2012/2013 shows that 80% of these registered charities have an income of less than £100k.

The smaller the income of an organisation, the more it will rely on volunteers and the more likely it will be volunteer-led. Volunteers are a resource. ‘Wealth’ includes and goes beyond financial concepts like income.

There’s wealth in what’s desirable; ideas, values, time, commitment, connections, as well as financial contribution. Volunteers offer to bring this wealth yet they don’t ask or wish for financial payment.

When we talk about volunteers we see their presence and energy across organisations; as people who may have sparked an idea and gone on to develop an entire project into delivery of services, as well as volunteers who compliment staff teams and are managed by volunteers.

Volunteers can be transient and one-off but leave long legacies and we hope valued ones! Well-matched and managed employer supported volunteering is one example of this.

How we developed volunteering support in 2015

We ran a survey of people involved in coordinating or hands-on management of volunteers and we learned a little about what life is like for them and where they needed training and development.

We have delivered four training courses based on our survey findings:

We delivered three free national volunteering forums on the topics of public Services, exploring the post-election landscape and employer supported volunteering to over 150 volunteer managers, heads and CEOs of volunteer involving organisations and companies who are exploring their volunteering offer for employees.

We supported over 4,000 groups with materials for Volunteers’ Week and have offered telephone and email advice to over 600 organisations this year, including individuals wishing to volunteer and listening to those who have not had a positive volunteering experience.

With 55 blog posts produced, including our monthly round-ups, special guest blogs to mark Volunteers’ Week and International Volunteer Managers Day 2015; and over 27,000 Twitter followers (@NCVOVolunteers) – we communicate regularly with volunteer managers from every size and type of organisation.

Future rewards

Our commitment to volunteering is clearly articulated in aim three of our current organisational strategy, ‘to grow and enhance volunteering, wherever it takes place’. We will also be working with strategic organisations for far greater effect in the future.

We will continue to make sure that our network of volunteer centres remain the first port of call for local volunteering brokerage and support them to offer up to date advice to groups on the ground, so they continue to be recognised as experts in volunteering.

Trustees are volunteers and although they may have years of experience in a profession, or be young and exceptionally bright, or be retired with abundant skills and knowledge; it is not a given that they will understand how to govern well and appropriately according to charity law. We will explore what support we can offer trustees in 2016.

Supporting medium-sized organisations in good practice and growing their capacity to collaborate and measure their volunteering impact is where we can help to evidence how volunteering makes a difference. This will include a new Studyzone (video training) course on good practice for volunteer managers.

Identifying volunteer-led networks and citizen-led initiatives that operate outside of the conventional structure of organisation are also on our radar for volunteering support.

Learning needs identified by volunteer managers in our 2015 survey will build on our current volunteering training offer with the following new courses launching in February and March:

  • Influencing for Volunteer Managers
  • Safeguarding for People in Volunteer Management
  • Recruiting and Retaining Volunteers through Social Media
  • An Introduction to ESV


The corporates are coming: five ways to make employer supported volunteering (ESV) work for your organisation

Want to know more about Employee Supported Volunteering (ESV)? Come to our Annual Conference workshop on 18 April 2016.

Find out more about NCVO Annual Conference 2016


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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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