2019 is the year of the volunteering strategy

The new year is on the horizon and 2019 is NCVO’s centenary year. We are offering ten frontline organisations the chance to join us on a learning journey, to develop a volunteering strategy.

What can a strategy do for me?

Volunteering is core to what we do but it doesn’t just magically happen. In 2018, 114 people who manage volunteers have attended volunteer management training. Few of them belong to organisations that can confidently articulate why volunteers exist in their organisation. This often brings confusion about the role of volunteers, as well as questions around whether organisations’ have the right financial resources to enable volunteering.

The volunteering leaders that attended training are all dedicated people tirelessly working (in paid and unpaid roles) supporting volunteers. Yet with organisational priorities shifting and the world we live in ever changing, it is difficult to find enough time to plan for the unique contribution that volunteers make. Here are some of the dilemmas they face:

‘How can we recruit more volunteers?’

‘How do we stop churn? Volunteers keep leaving, how can we encourage them to stay?’

‘Is this a volunteer role or a paid role? How can I distinguish between them?’

‘How can I get other teams to understand the value that our volunteers bring?’

‘Our organisation calls itself a volunteering organisation but we have no coherent offer.’

‘I want to create positive messages about my volunteers and I need ideas on how to share them.’

Without a volunteer strategy, the answers to all of the above questions will not address the absence of an agreed direction. Whilst the day-to-day operational aspect of managing volunteers is necessary, spinning plates without a plan, or having a plan but delivering it in isolation from the rest of your organisation or the outside world, is guaranteed to limit volunteer potential and impact.

This is why you need a volunteering strategy, and we’re keen to help you develop one!

Commitment to the Cause

We are looking for people who are committed to volunteering and believe in what it can do to transform lives and communities. People who want to meet regularly, online and offline, with others who understand their world and want to make it even better.

We have devised a mix of structured learning and open space for you to –

  • Revisit your mission and understand how volunteers help.
  • Map out your stakeholders and energise them.
  • Look at the current social, political and technological landscape.
  • Develop your vision for volunteering.
  • Jump on the innovation bandwagon. Or not. And understand the implications of new ways of working.
  • Assess where potential growth areas are and make your case convincingly.
  • Communicate powerfully and creatively.

Our aim is to make the learning process enjoyable, supportive and one in which you can reap benefits from your peers. We expect laughter, frustration and learning. What do you expect? How would a volunteer strategy help you?

The application process is short and simple. We invite you to apply for one of our ten subsidised places. Deadline 4 February. We look forward to receiving your application.


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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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