So the annual festivities are approaching for Volunteers' Week 1-7 June. At our last Volunteers Management Network meeting, we unearthed the trend that food features high in many of the upcoming volunteer celebrations with Bake offs, Afternoon Teas, Lunches and Dinners given as examples.
But our great celebration will be overshadowed this year by the 8 June Election and its general lack of focus on the voluntary sector and volunteering. With the financial constraints continuing for the foreseeable future, it is without a doubt and a good reminder that we need to spend more time nurturing our volunteers and keeping them on board.
So here’s a quick reminder for you to ensure your volunteers remain:
- Ensure your volunteers feel valued – seek their feedback, include them in consultations, ask their opinion on changes. Volunteers do a specific role and if anyone knows the pitfalls and successes of that role – it’s them. So if you are looking at developing new roles or upgrading an existing one, use your volunteer voice to create roles that reflect their experiences.
- Show volunteers a good time from the moment they enquire – and this means make sure your volunteer management processes are water tight. Give timely responses to enquiries, and if you can’t, because you are part time, set an out of office explaining that. Make your induction a learning experience so that your volunteers feel prepared to undertake their roles – and that means thinking about different learning styles of individuals. Don’t give volunteers great big handfuls of policies to read and expect them to read them – be more creative about how you can impart less sexy information to them without sending them to sleep!
- Show your volunteers the impact of their work – don’t just check your volunteers are having a good experience, go one step further and measure the impact volunteers have on the aims of your organisation. For example, if your volunteers Mentor service users, when asking your service users how they found the service, ensure you ask them about the volunteer support they receive and how it has impacted their lives.
- Say Thank you – we can take our volunteers for granted and only take Volunteers Week to say thanks. Be mindful of big gestures -and that some volunteers find this overwhelming. However, taking time to make them a cup of tea or add a biscuit to the mix can be just the right way to say thanks. Or think about highlighting them during the week as part of our #iamthedifference campaign during Volunteers Week.
See more info here about what you can do!
The NCVO Manifesto on Volunteering highlights what many of us already know that volunteers are one of the most powerful resources we have in the sector at the moment “Charities and Volunteering make Britain Great”.
And remain a resource we can’t afford to lose. So treat them well.