Mary Portas and V Day

Did anyone see Mary Queen of Charity Shops Revisited last night?  This time Mary tried to tackle volunteer recruitment.  She identified that asking volunteers for a set commitment might be off putting, and came up with what she called ‘V-day’. where volunteers could come along when it suited them and help out. I see this is part of a wider campaign – any of the Charity Shop People been involved in this?  Any of you got any comments?

I had mixed feelings; I can see how this might work well as a taster session, or even longer term as a once a month chance to get a big job sorted, but she seemed to be suggesting that shops should be permanently run this way, and I can’t see how you could practically run a shop if you had no idea when and where volunteers might materialise. 

I found it interesting that Mary seemed very happy to say that someone donating an old t-shirt that has a resale value of less than the resouces needed to clean and price it, is insulting the charity, but a volunteer who says they can only give an hour, and can’t say in advance when that will be, isn’t seen as a similar drain on resources.

I think it was an interesting example of one of the massive problems that volunteer management is facing at the moment.  We need to be creative in how we think about involving people, and look at ways of being flexible.  However, if we are too flexible then there can come a point where what the volunteers are doing has ceased be that useful, or the amount of extra work we have to put in to accommodate new types of volunteering is not justified by amount of extra work we get out of the new volunteers.


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