These tips on building support for volunteering within your organisation were shared by Volunteer Managers at a recent VCTH Peer Learning session.
- Take a collaborative approach. Ask colleagues for their opinions. Try asking open questions like; “If we want to reach more clients, or better support our community, how can volunteers help?”
- Address concerns colleagues have about involving volunteers, as well as changes to projects or volunteer roles. If staff feel that particular volunteer roles are too risky, share risk assessments with them and ask for their views on how risks could be better mitigated.
- Hold a Q&A session for staff, to demystify volunteering and answer any questions they might have.
- Share information about volunteer roles in other teams within your organisation. Sell the benefits of involving volunteers, like freeing up staff time, or bringing fresh ideas and community contacts.
- Gather data on the impact of your volunteers as you go along, not just when it is time to report to funders. How many people have the volunteers supported, and how have clients benefited? What is your organisation’s mission and goals, and how have volunteers helped to achieve them? What are the needs of your service users? Get feedback from clients before and after they receive support from volunteers. Also get feedback from volunteers on the difference they have made, as well as how they have personally benefited.
- Share information on the impact of your volunteer programme with staff and volunteers. You could regularly include statistics in newsletters, or during staff meetings. Ensure that this information reaches senior managers and trustees. Could you have a regular item on the agenda of trustee and senior management team meetings?
- Produce case studies, perhaps a few each quarter. Include photos of volunteers and clients (with their consent, of course). Share these case studies with other teams. Ask other staff what case studies would be useful, for example for fundraising or campaigning purposes.
- Focus on recruiting and retaining the right volunteers. They can act as great, informal ambassadors for your volunteering programme. Provide good support to volunteers so they can be effective in their role. If an applicant isn’t suitable, do not take them on.
- Are there ways of bringing volunteers and staff together? Could you expand a volunteer training session to include a social or celebratory aspect, or hold a volunteer awards ceremony, and invite staff along?
- Make a Volunteering Plan with clear, realistic objectives. Involve senior managers and staff in producing this plan.
- Consider undertaking a quality standard such as Investing in Volunteers. If you don’t have the budget for this, you could start with a free benchmarking tool like IiV Essentials to do a basic health check on your volunteer practice. It will help you think about volunteers’ experiences and how volunteers can help make the biggest difference to your cause. It can also help you to standardise good practice across an organisation.
If you would like further support on making the case for volunteering within your organisation, or with any other aspect of best practice in volunteer management, please email email@example.com