Retail Volunteering Event: Investing in volunteer time drives income.

24  April 2018 at the Crypt, London E1 6LY,  10:30 – 4:30

Click here to book.

Many charities run retail operations with varying degrees of volunteer involvement, but the Charity Retail Association (CRA) has identified a shortage of suitable volunteers and the importance of good volunteer management as key issues facing their members at this time.  With a huge and diverse array of volunteers, charity retailers face both unique and universal challenges.

This event will bring together a wealth of experience from both volunteering and retail. Hosted by Angela Wilson, Senior Advisor, Volunteering & Community Development at Barnardo’s, with Rob Jackson of Rob Jackson Consulting, Robin Osterley, Chief Executive of CRA, Liz Reed, Volunteering Business Partner at Blue Cross and Roy Clark, Director for Retail and Trading at Barnardo’s.

The event will look at how modern retail volunteers may be very different from the traditional image, and how retail volunteer managers need to understand the complex motives and aspirations of their volunteers in order to build the most productive relationships. From volunteers looking to improve their employability, to those combating social isolation, the range of expectations must be matched by an equally in-depth and engaging volunteer offer.

We will hear some examples of organisations responding to these challenges in innovative ways and how a successful approach can result in efficient and productive retail operations.

Balancing Time And Dollar

Time is money -Investing in volunteer time drives income

For more information or to book – Click here.

24 April 2018, the Crypt at Christ Church Spitalfields, London E1 6LY

Volunteer Management Progress Report – AVM’s response

The recently published​ 2018​ ​Volunteer Management Progress Report once again highlights the range of job titles in ​our profession​, across the world​.  Although there is a slight increase in ‘Coordinators’, and a ​small decrease in ‘Managers’ in practice Coordinator and Manager roles are likely to overlap, with similar tasks and responsibilities.  2018-VMPR-Cover-e1517423490909

This echoes the IVMD Survey carried out by AVM in 2017.  A third of survey recipients indicated that their role was non-managerial.  Their job titles included Officer / Coordinator / Supervisor / Engagement.  With the potential to negatively impact on the scope for career progression, particularly for new entrants to the industry, improved consistency in naming conventions is needed.

The report also identified time as a challenge for volunteer managers. A proportion of respondents had other core responsibilities alongside their volunteer management role, facing ​the reality of splitting time between competing ​workloads.  Do competing workloads compromise the ability of volunteer managers to be effective?  Is more investment needed?  

The answer may seem obvious but the question is not new.  In 2008 the Institute for Volunteering Research’s​  Management Matters survey found that:

Volunteers are often a vital resource for organisations, yet it would appear that many are not dedicating significant resources to their involvement….While human resources are more readily available for managing volunteers, they are often dispersed and may be hidden within people’s wider roles. (p.7-8, IVR, 2008)

A disappointing trend is the lack of budget assigned to volunteer management. For many of us necessity really is the mother of invention when it comes to managing volunteer programmes but this should be the exception, and not the norm.  An under-financed programme is unlikely to reach its true potential.  16% of the IVMD Survey recipients highlighted budget, resources and finance as an existing challenge they faced in their role, but 25% cited this as a challenge for the sector in the next few years.


Good budget management provides evidence for sustainability and growth, and all organisations promoting and relying on volunteers should properly fund this endeavour, and provide budget writing and management training for their volunteer managers.

The 2010 Valuing Volunteer Management Skills study acknowledges the difficulty in developing a relevant training programme for volunteer managers given that their role is rarely standalone.  It should be noted that the earlier survey recognises that barriers to training opportunities may deter those who are new to the role but are not hampering the development of models of good practice by longer standing practitioners.

Although there was a correlation to salary, there were still relatively high levels of satisfaction amongst volunteer managers, and this has been consistent in the time that the survey has been produced.  Role satisfaction is closely matched by the intention to continue working in this field.  It’s not only volunteers who find the environment rewarding but also volunteer managers!

Manchester, here we come!

Volunteering for All: Measuring the health and well-being benefits

15 March 2018 at The Whitworth  Click here to book

By popular demand, AVM will this year be running three L&D events outside the capital. The first of these will be in Manchester at the Whitworth Gallery and we are pleased to announce special reduced ticket prices for this event, to celebrate a new era of AVM events nationwide. This has been made possible in part due to the support of the gallery itself and Manchester University.

This event will look at two key issues of volunteering: Firstly, measuring the well-being impacts of volunteering and how it can benefit everyone involved: the volunteers; programme leaders; the organisation and the clients. Secondly, diversity in volunteering, including attracting and working with younger volunteers and a look at volunteering in ethnic minorities and low socio-economic groups.

It will showcase some innovative programmes from Manchester and the North West, as well as addressing universal aspects of volunteer management which are relevant for all.

We are particularly pleased to be releasing the results of two different reports on volunteer behaviour: Jump Projects’ “New look at ethnic minority and low socio-economic volunteering in the UK” and the Audience Agency’s report on the health and well-being benefits of volunteering at Kirklees Museum and Galleries.

An exceptional line up of presentations will include: Emma Horridge of Manchester University and Lee Ashworth of Imperial War Museum; Wendy Hunwick-Brown of Ripon Museum; Will Watt of GIVERS / Jump Projects; Beccy Bracey and Jenny Salton of Kirklees Museum and Galleries with Catherine Bradley of The Audience Agency.

Finally there will be a very special workshop session hosted by volunteers from various volunteer programmes in the Manchester area, allowing them to express their opinions of the strengths and weaknesses of these programmes and of the teams running them: How do volunteers see volunteer management?

The day will include table discussions and networking opportunities.

Click here for full agenda or to book.


AVM’s Volunteering for all: Measuring the well-being benefits.           15 March 2018, Manchester, The Whitworth


Diversity in Volunteering: Attracting different demographics

22 February 2018, The Crypt, Christ Church, Spitalfields, 10:30 – 4:15 pm

Click here to book.

Interested in attracting a more diverse volunteer base?

Interested in targeting volunteers from a particular demographic?  

Hear from our experienced speakers on different strategies for attracting a more diverse volunteer base, as well as presentations from organisations that have identified specific demographics they are keen to recruit.

You will hear about the process of identifying the need and assessing the benefits throughout an organisation, then various approaches to targeting and recruiting volunteers from different demographics.

We will hear the experiences of three organisations working with older, younger and LGBT volunteers. We will also hear from two umbrella organisations that are developing or have developed strategies for attracting diverse volunteers in general.

There will be table discussions, networking opportunities and ample space for delegates to share their own experiences, concerns and success stories.

A light lunch and refreshments are included in the price.

Click here for further details or to book.

images (1) Diversity in Volunteering: Attracting different demographics.

22 February 2018, London.

Click here for Eventbrite page.


Contributing to the health and care workforce strategy

Health Education England have launched their draft health and care Workforce Strategy consultation. The Strategy will be published in July 2018 to coincide with the NHS’s 70th birthday. The draft strategy sets out the current workforce landscape in the NHS and social care, and the approach to shaping the face of the NHS and social care workforce for the next two decades.

The Association of Volunteer Managers will be submitting a response to the draft consultation, and would like to hear our members’ views to inform our response. Question five will be of particular interest to the volunteer management community, which asks:


Do you have any comments on how to better ensure opportunities to; and meets the needs and aspirations of; all communities in England?

Areas to explore may include:

  • What more can be done to attract staff from non-traditional backgrounds, including where we train and how we train?
  • How we better support carers, self carers and volunteers?


Members can submit their comments or questions to Ruth Leonard, AVM Chair via email

The consultation ends in March 2018, so all comments or questions should be submitted by end of February 2018.

AVM welcomes the arrival of Helpforce

The Association of Volunteer Managers welcomes the arrival of Helpforce into the sector. Volunteering is an important part of the fabric of health and social care with an estimated 3 million people volunteering regularly.

The health service is facing unprecedented demand. There is no doubt that volunteering in health will and must increase. A balanced and strategic approach is essential to future-proof our health service.

Volunteers don’t only play a greater role in supporting NHS staff, they also connect and empower communities.

To be sustainable, volunteers should be offered opportunities which are rewarding, flexible and suited to their skills. Volunteer managers must share their experience and learning; a cohesive approach is fundamental to success.

The Case for a Code

A code of practice for professionals in volunteer management


Volunteering has come a long way. The understanding of the valuable role volunteering plays and its contribution to building communities is now part of the political mainstream. It’s become a firm fixture in the rhetoric of public figures from princes to prime ministers and has featured on the policy agenda of successive governments.

The nascent role of volunteer management has been a key driver in the greater recognition and impact of volunteering. However, this role is not well understood and too often public discourse on volunteering makes little reference to volunteer management. The knowledge and scope of what’s required for successful volunteer engagement remains one of our sector’s best kept secrets.

Volunteer management as a profession

Research repeatedly indicates that there are a growing number of people, both paid and unpaid, across public, private and voluntary sectors, helping to cultivate this recent blossoming of volunteering. What we do goes beyond simply having a job, carrying out a function or fulfilling a contract. We are professionals and should be recognised as such.

Evidence points to a growth in those taking a professional approach to volunteer management whether as managers, leaders or involved in its development. The support and interest in the Association of Volunteer Managers since its inception in 2007 is just one indicator of this trend.

Building a new profession

We believe there is a growing appetite to build a new profession in volunteer management.

As professionals in volunteer management we’re faced with complex situations that require our specialist and expert knowledge. This knowledge is gained through reflection on our own practice and learning from others with similar experiences.

If we are to apply that knowledge, we require autonomy – we need to be able to come to our own judgement independent of other professions and disciplines.

However, with professional autonomy comes responsibility and accountability. To support professionals with that responsibility, the profession of volunteer management needs, collectively, to develop its very own set of professional values – a code of practice.

The need for a code of practice

What’s needed is a code that inspires each professional’s ongoing performance and practice to improve and develop.

Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) would like to propose to members that we take forward our profession and agree together a code of practice for professionals in volunteer management.

This code of practice in volunteer management should:

  1. provide a framework that guides the core practice of professionals in volunteer management
  2. encourage active reflection among professionals in volunteer management on the wider implications and impacts of their work
  3. inform the practice of others who work in association with professionals in volunteer management
  4. support constructive communication between professionals in volunteer management and the public on complex and challenging issues in volunteering
  5. raise the standards of practice by ensuring the integrity of members and thereby raise the public’s trust in what we do

Join us

If you’d like to get involved, please join AVM to get updates and take part in workshops and discussion in the coming months.

If you are a member and would like to get involved, please get in touch or find further details on our LinkedIn group.

Help to Work

The Association of Volunteer Managers advises its members to think very seriously before getting involved with the new Community Work Placements (CWP) or the Mandatory Intervention Regime (MIR) as part of Help to Work.

The CWP is a mandatory work placement scheme that unemployed people will be forced to take up and complete (at 30 hours per week for six months) to avoid losing their benefits. Any charities signing up to the scheme should be very clearly aware that this is not volunteering and that volunteer management practices will not necessarily be applicable.

Organisations will have to understand that they will be required to report a claimant’s non-attendance or poor performance, and that this could result in their loss of benefit.

Volunteers support us with their skills, effort and time because they want to and so a level of willing support for the cause can reasonably be assumed, which will clearly not be the case with CWP.

Whatever views we may have of the principles behind this change to the welfare system, it is worth noting that the government do not refer to it as volunteering. It is the media who have used that word in their reports and have made the situation appear worse than it is.

Organisations primarily concerned with the welfare of the most vulnerable people in society must be especially careful as the potential for reputational damage is significant.

AVM Board of Directors



Government announcement: Help to Work: nationwide drive to help the long-term unemployed into work (30th April 2014)

My mini-manifesto for volunteer management and other posts

A selection of posts by John Ramsey – originally posted on his blog on

A few years ago the Commission on the Future of Volunteering (in England) was set up to debate the future of volunteering. Like most things in life, some of it was great, some of it was good and some could have been better.

My disappointment though was it’s approach. For me, it should have started by being much more explicit in saying that if we want an effective volunteering culture in our society then this is what the volunteering landscape needs to look like, and then looked at how we could work towards it. Instead it seemed to go for more of a sticking plaster approach.

So for my mini-manifesto I want to start by laying down some key descriptors for what I think the volunteer management landscape should look like, from the macro to the micro:

  • It is intrinsically understood by all that successful effective volunteering relies on successful, effective volunteer management. And successful, effective volunteering means more and better services for clients.
  • The debate on volunteering policy and the development of volunteering, at all levels, involves volunteer managers as a matter of course.
  • That there is a volunteer management career structure.
  • That we have a professional association who we belong to. Who consults with us. Who speaks for us. Who inspires us. Who, through our consent, leads on volunteer management.
  • Volunteer management is a core part of what an organisation, that is largely reliant on volunteers, does. It is not an ‘add-on’ to another job. It is not a role that is simply funded when there is project funding. And there is parity of pay and responsibility.
  • Volunteering and by extension volunteer management is a standing item on a board’s agenda just as finance is.

Continue reading

It’s time we came out of the closet

The reason why British Cycling is so successful is relatively simple. They identified their objectives – winning medals – and then invested in the best people, the best ideas, the best training and the best equipment to achieve that.

It’s easier said than done, of course – but it isn’t magic or sleight of hand. As in all areas of life, giving people the best tools, knowledge and opportunities to succeed invariably leads to the best outcomes.

And it’s no different in volunteering.

I will never tire of saying this: Volunteer management is about respecting our volunteers sufficiently that we properly invest in them to maximise their engagement and participation, and ensure the very best outcomes for our beneficiaries.

And yet volunteer management still remains a well-kept secret. An incredibly well-kept secret bearing in mind last year nearly 300,000 people on LinkedIn said they had ‘Volunteer Management’ as a skill. Really? Where are they? Because in the last 15 or so years I’ve been involved in volunteer management I’ve never seen or heard 300,000 volunteer managers at conferences, workshops, on message boards, tweeting, writing blogs, involved with International Volunteer Managers Appreciation day etc etc.

And this is one of the key problems. There are an incredible number of people who manage volunteers, but very few of them who are engaged with volunteer management outside of their day-to-day work.

In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking the profile of volunteer managers is the same as modern-day lighthouse keepers; just a handful of them who occasionally pop up to make sure the lights are flashing.

The vast majority of volunteer managers are invisible, which means their voices are left unheard. And everyone suffers as a result.

This is what we need to tackle – we need to encourage and enable more volunteer managers to be involved and engaged in the debate. Because, if we want to achieve anything, we need to achieve a critical mass of volunteer managers; a large cohort of active people who cannot be ignored or written off.

Getting Started

The hardest thing is, of course, getting started. The more you do it, the easier it becomes, but taking that first step – as every toddler learning to walk knows – can be very difficult.

So here are some things you can do…

1. Share other people’s blogs etc on Twitter and Facebook (or simply just ‘like’ them). Not only does this spread the message but it gives the writer confidence that people are actually reading what they are saying.

2. Reply to other people’s blogs and questions. There are a number of fora that you can do this on – here on ivo, UKVPMs (and its sister sites OZVPM and CyberVPM) and have a look at this collection of some of the best sites across the globe

3. Write your own blog. Your opinion is as valid as anybody else’s. See @BigDSmall’s great blog on ‘Getting thoughtful about VM blogging’

4. Tweet on Thoughtful Thursdays #ttvolmgrs

5. Attend a local VM network. If you’re not sure you have one then contact your local Volunteer Centre.

6. And if there isn’t one, set up your own VM network – and great kudos to @addammh for recently doing so in Manchester.

And most importantly of all, encourage a VM colleague to do any of the above.

None of us have the time to do it all, but by doing something it not only creates its own momentum but gives us all the confidence to do more.

Broadening our Horizons

Right. So far, so good. We’ve started talking to each other, swapping thoughts, challenging ideas. More volunteer managers are becoming engaged in the world of volunteer management. But, that’s just the starting point – simply talking to each other won’t change much. If we want to change the world we need to move outside our cozy VM comfort zone.

The big bad world can be very big and very bad. Being the lone voice can be very, very frightening. And that’s why it’s important we become more visible to our peers, so as a group we become stronger, more supportive and more confident.

Where to start, as ever, is the hardest point. Just remember three things:

If an issue is about volunteering, then invariably it’s about volunteer management.

Volunteering cuts across many boundaries, issues and sectors. I often look at Volunteering England’s policy statements to get a better understanding of the cross-cutting nature of volunteering.

One of the driving forces for the media is increasing readership. If an issue is getting more comments and hits then they will pay more attention to it.

So what can you do? Here are some of my ideas…

1. Comment on media articles and stories, raising the issue of volunteer management. Check out Third Sector, Guardian Voluntary Sector and Civil Society. And if you can’t comment , why not ‘like’ a story or comment. Most stories get a handful of comments at best – what do you imagine they’d think if they regularly got a large number of comments about volunteer management?

2. Respond to opinion pieces like Rob Jackson’s volunteering column in Third Sector.

3. Respond to sector questions and consultations. The big one at the moment is the VE/NCVO consultation. This is IMPORTANT. It’s a lot easier to shape a strategy and vision at the start than to change it. Make sure you tell them what they should do about volunteer management. Remember, your opinion is as valid as anybody else’s.

4. Become a member of the Association of Volunteer Managers. They are there to support and represent us. The more members they have, the more powerful they become.

5. Become a member of NCVO and Volunteering England. As members you have a say in the direction of the organisation.

6. If you don’t like what those membership organisations are doing, don’t just moan about it, get more involved. Contact the CEO/trustee board directly, join working groups or apply to be a trustee.

7. Become a trustee for other voluntary organisations. The more VM-trustees, the more organisations that will understand the importance of volunteer management.

8. Directly raise issues with policy makers or influencers whether that be your local council, ACEVO or even the Cabinet Office. It’s never been easier to voice your opinion and gather supporters to join you. Even Nick Hurd has his own twitter address @minforcivsoc

I know for many people none of this is easy. But, once you dip your toe in you’ll never look back. And the field of volunteer management will be eternally grateful.

Please do add anything else you can do. Or are doing.


Some of the links I mentioned:


Original post:


Post by John Ramsey