Time Well Spent released in January 2019, is a report by the NCVO into volunteer experiences.
The report identifies 8 ways to create a meaningful volunteer experience for organisations. Below is a summaryof each of these points for you as a volunteer manager/coordinator to reflect on.
Make it inclusive. Creating volunteering opportunities that are easy for people to become involved with, are accessible and reach out to all people within society. This can be achieved through taster sessions and different volunteer recruitment methods.
Flexible. It can be hard to be flexible and manage the needs of the organisation and the volunteer. So, listening to your volunteers needs and building a volunteering experience that builds on reasonable expectations and a shared understanding of values is an important component in creating a meaningful experience. Through this approach, there is an opportunity to enable a volunteer to shape their journey, and where expectations cannot be met, signpost the volunteer towards another opportunity, so their enthusiasm isn’t lost.
Impact. Demonstrate the impact your volunteers have, to themselves, to others and the organisation. There are various ways to acknowledge the value of your volunteers, which highlight the impact that they create. By highlighting the difference, a volunteer makes, it enables the volunteer to realise they are making.
Connected. Create opportunities for volunteers to meet with other volunteers, and members of the organisation. Provide support and supervision, so that volunteers voices can be heard, and have an opportunity to build long sustaining volunteering relationships. Be creative in the ways you create participation with the volunteers within your organisation, and those who might otherwise be excluded.
Balanced. Volunteering should have structure and formality but should not feel unnecessarily over bureaucratic. Volunteering should be distinguishable from paid roles within an organisation, focusing on the impact of the volunteering role, rather than added value to paid positions.
Enjoyable. Volunteers should look forward to the role that they do, even the most repetitive of tasks should be enjoyable to undertake. Enjoyment is an experience not only to be had from the volunteering undertaken, but it is more often found with the people that volunteers, volunteer with.
Voluntary. It is important that volunteering feels exactly like volunteering, and the time given is on their own terms. There should be clear distinctions between paid work and work opportunities undertaken by volunteers. To achieve this, check in with your volunteers, don’t put pressure on them and check to see if the volunteering is meeting the expectation of the volunteer.
Meaningful. Finding the right for your volunteer, can create a long lasting, meaningful volunteering experience. To help a volunteer have a meaningful experience, be transparent about the role and manage their expectations, offer appropriate support, and don’t forget to give feedback on what difference their volunteering contribution makes.
For further information the NCVO report can be found here
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