Volunteer Management In The Next Decade

Karl Wilding continues our tenth anniversary blog series with thoughts on how Volunteer Management’s journey to date will shape the next ten years.

In the ten years since AVM was established, much has changed in the world around us that has impacted upon volunteering and therefore volunteer management. Some of this surprised us: a financial crisis, a decade of economic stagnation and social tensions, albeit punctuated by the highlight of volunteering during London 2012, and more recently the decision to leave the European Union. Some changes we saw coming: the demographic pressures and changing social attitudes of an ageing, more diverse and more atomised society. What we probably didn’t see was how quickly these changes would come about and the pressure they would place on our communities and the services we use. We probably also didn’t see how the opportunities that digital technology would deliver, or some of the social fractures it would deepen. Building bridges between communities of place and interest is more vital than ever, a tension that saw volunteer management hit (for the first time?) the front pages of our national newspapers recently.

We live in interesting times. It seems to me that these wider social, demographic and economic changes will continue to shape and reshape volunteering over the next decade, though only the most foolhardy venture to make predictions these days. What therefore might AVM members want to mull over as shaping the next 10 years?

For me, the slow burn of demographic change will reshape volunteering and how we think about how we work with those who want to engage in the communities (note the plural) around them. Public services are already being refashioned so as to involve service users more in their delivery. Boundaries between paid and unpaid staff will blur as we try and cope with pressures from a growing, but ageing, population. Note also the less flexible labour markets that many argue will result from the decision to leave the European Union.

Informal volunteering, such as acts of neighbourliness, especially seem important as reducing demand is seen as a way of helping public services better cope. The Royal Voluntary Service’s increased focus on social action might be indicative of the way forward here. Do we need to (re)think volunteer managers as convenors, catalysts, shapers of people who want to get involved in their communities? If so, is it a radical rethink or an evolution of change already afoot? Either way, it will be more important than ever that we build and strengthen the bonds of community. More people helping people.

But it’s about more than just individuals doing good things: bringing people together so that they are more than the sum of their parts, working out how best to involve businesses who feel a responsibility to the community, and working out how to work alongside our public services are all part of the emerging landscape. We’ve learnt over the last decade that volunteers don’t always just appear spontaneously; or even when they do, good organisation and infrastructure enables volunteers to make a bigger impact.

Effective, impactful volunteering needs good infrastructure and networks. As government and business become more interested in social action, the case for investment in volunteer management might become more apparent, based on experience. In turn this will inevitably lead to more thinking about value for money, greater calls for management information, and more data collection. That has to be a good thing, but for some it might be the less attractive side of continued professionalization. If that leads to less of the ‘let’s sprinkle some volunteers on the problem’ type thinking, then a more data-driven approach is OK by me.

The topic of data leads to a discussion of digital (aka #techforgood) and how that might shape the future of volunteering. This is the most difficult to call: AVM’s ten year anniversary coincides with the device that pretty much kicked off the smartphone revolution, the iPhone. Could anyone seriously have predicted the impact that would have on pretty much every aspect of life? Current trends might suggest an ever-more efficient brokering of people who want to get involved with opportunities that fit (based on the data that your phone now collects about you); more emphasis on place and opportunities based on where someone happens to be; and more mopping up of small bits of spare time as the smartphone facilitates activities such as mentoring, remotely. Finally, tech blogs are currently awash with discussions of AI and machine learning. I can’t even begin to understand how these will shape volunteer management – they will – but in terms of volunteering itself, volunteers are already helping machines to learn how to recognise patterns that have a social outcome, such as this project around slavery. A brave new world indeed.

Volunteer management will not stay static in the next decade. Nor should it. I look forward to AVM leading the discussion around what the brave new world of volunteer management could, and might, look like.

 

Karl Wilding speaks and writes widely on issues facing the voluntary sector. Karl is Director of Public Policy and Volunteering at NCVO, a trustee of both Creating the Future and St Albans CVS, and an advisor to Charity Bank.

Bookings Now Open for AVM 2017: The Annual Conference

We’re pleased to announce that bookings for AVM 2017: The Annual Conference are now open.

Book your place now.

As an AVM member you already receive a 50% discount on your conference booking but why not enjoy more with the early bird discount. We only have a limited number of these tickets available.

As a non-member you can still enjoy early bird discount, but we only have a limited number of these tickets available.

Don’t leave it too long to book your place and why would you want to when you see what a fantastic line-up we have planned:

Keynote speakers this year are:
Julie Bentley, CEO of Girlguiding
Vicky Browning, CEO of Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations
James Probert, Director of Strategy and Impact, City Year UK

Seminars this year include:
• Change is not a journey
• Measuring Impact
• Using data and benchmarks to drive volunteering up the agenda
• Embracing the age of opportunity – involving younger and older volunteers
• Corporate volunteering from the third sector perspective
• Creativity and meaning in volunteer reward and recognition
• Influential Leadership: Gaining Commitment, Getting Results
• GIVERS – Nudging People to Volunteer

You shouldn’t just hear it from us how great the conference is. Carly Benton, Volunteer Development Officer at Crohn’s and Colitis UK, shares her experience of being a first-timer at the AVM Conference in 2016 and why you shouldn’t miss out:

“For me there is nothing more valuable than meeting like-minded peers to challenge my thinking.  There will always be areas for improvement and barriers to overcome in the world of volunteering. This is why the AVM Conference is the perfect place for volunteer managers to come together with a shared understanding, to not only to develop your skillset and keep up to date with current trends, but also to reassure you you’re not in it alone!”

We look forward to seeing you at the Volunteer Management event of the year!

AVM Conference Team

 

Other L&D events:

Meaningful Engagement Begins with Recruitment, 27 July, 10 am – 4 pm

Click here to secure members’ rates.

Addressing the challenge of securing fully motivated and engaged, long-term volunteers. Should this begin with a recruitment strategy focussed on engagement? We consider a range of approaches from large and small organisations, and specialist advisers.

Meaningful Engagement Begins with Recruitment.

27 July 2017 10 am till 4 pm, lunch included

At The Crypt, Christ Church Spitalfields Commercial Street | Spitalfields | London

The challenge of both recruiting and retaining useful, effective volunteers is an ever-present aspect of volunteer management. Most of us agree that time ensuring existing volunteers are satisfied and fulfilled in their roles is time well spent. However, is it possible to promote long-term volunteer engagement by focussing on this aim as part of the recruitment stage?

This full day event will look at the recruitment strategies and some of the campaigns planned and utilised by a variety of organisations.

Hazel Finney of Community Impact Bucks will consider the fundamental issues all organisations need to consider when approaching volunteer recruitment. With experience of training, preparing and supporting more than 3,500 small organisations in developing their recruitment policies, Hazel has almost unrivalled knowledge of her subject.

Will Watt of Join In and Jump Projects has developed GIVERS as an extension of his award-winning work on the 2012 Olympic legacy charity, Join In. GIVERS transforms data on over 300,000 volunteers into a simple, practical tool to help anyone recruit, retain and reward more volunteers.

Flora Nicholson of Cancer Research UK will co-present with Will Watt, looking at CRUK’s use of GIVERS in their recent volunteer recruitment.

Stephen Hill of Parkinson’s UK will present on their early pre-recruitment preparations. Parkinson’s UK are attempting a radical, far more in-depth approach to the challenge of encouraging long term, fully engaged volunteering.

Daniel Ingram of Wood Green, The Animals Charity, will be considering how to effectively divide his time and resources between recruitment and active retention / engagement strategies.

The event will be hosted by AVM Director Bryan Precious, and will include a light lunch. Held in the Crypt of Christ Church Spitalfields, this promises to be an ideal opportunity to discover the latest thinking on recruitment, retention and engagement of volunteers. As always, attendees can network and share experiences with counterparts from a broad cross section of volunteer organisations.

To secure your place, click here.

For a full agenda, click here.

 

 

Ten Ten Ten: How Does The Next Decade Look For Volunteering

Continuing our series of blogs celebrating AVM’s tenth anniversary, Joe Saxton offers his ‘top ten’ of how volunteering will change in the next decade.

AVM is ten years old. It’s a huge achievement for any start-up organisation to get this far. Much has changed in the world of volunteering in the last ten years, but the need for AVM is greater than ever. The world of volunteering will go on changing over the next 10 years. So here are my 10 predictions for how volunteering will change, what the best volunteer managers will be doing, and how AVM will need to react.

1. The potential for volunteering will go on growing. Whether its volunteers in schools, welcoming refugees, campaigning against government cuts, or helping neighbours, we haven’t begun to reach saturation in the ways that volunteering can change society.

2. Baby boomers are going to hit peak volunteering potential. The generation born in the years 1946-1964 are just hitting retirement in volume and the potential for them to volunteer is huge. But they need to be treated right.

3. With a little help from charities, youth volunteering will mature to help young people move seamlessly into volunteering during their working lives. Volunteers are for life, not just for young people.

4. Volunteer managers will have specialisms just like fundraisers do. There are over 15 types of fundraising expertise. Expect volunteering management to become more and more specialist as it matures, just as fundraising has.

5. Supporter-centred management will be where the best volunteer managers steal a march on competitors. We already see fundraising and communications and marketing working much more closely together. The best organisations will look at how supporters want to engage and manage their needs holistically whether they want to give, volunteer, campaign or use services.

6. We still don’t know how to encourage neighbourliness or manage it or see it as part of volunteering nearly enough. As much as we want people to volunteer in charity shops and more formal ways, we want people to give time to neighbourhood. This is an example of the specialisms that are needed (see point 4).

7. The most far-sighted charities will invest in volunteer recruitment the way they do donor recruitment. Typically they may invest several hundred pounds in donor recruitment and the total budget may amount to millions of pounds in the biggest charities. I wonder how many volunteer managers even have a recruitment budget.

8. Intertwining specific audiences by demographics (eg working parents) and product (eg micro-volunteering) will be the breakfast of volunteering champions. In other words, the best organisations will understand exactly who their volunteers are, or could be, and create the volunteering products to encourage, entice and engage them ever more into giving their time.

9. AVM needs to gear up to change to make the most of volunteering. A decade after launch it still has just one member of staff (while CharityComms launched at the same time has nearly 10 staff). AVM needs to grasp the potential of the years ahead with passion, energy and enthusiasm.

10. And one of the ways that AVM can make the most of its potential is a name change. Its current name is like a millstone round its neck, partly because the name is usually shortened, and partly because it isn’t just ‘volunteer managers’ who do volunteer management. It can be people with a bundle of responsibilities. AVM as a name ghettoises the organisation and holds it back.

This guest blog is by Joe Saxton, Driver of Ideas at nfpSynergy and its founder. Joe co-founded and chaired CharityComms, and has been chair of the Institute of Fundraising and People & Planet. Joe blogs in a personal capacity.

It’s a Date – AVM 2017 is on 18 October

With five months to go until we come together for AVM’s sector leading annual conference, we’re asking you to keep Wednesday 18 October firmly held in your diaries.

At AVM 2017 – The Annual Conference we’ll celebrate our 10th birthday and, with plans hotting up, the event promises to be bigger and better than ever before. We’re thrilled to announce an exciting line-up of keynote speakers, as shown below, with further announcements on seminars to follow over the coming months.

We’re delighted that the conference will again be held at the Royal National Hotel, London, close to Euston and Kings Cross stations. Early bird tickets will be released shortly so be sure to keep an eye on your emails for further news. Last year’s event sold out in record time, so we’d strongly encourage you to book as early as you can.

Our keynote speakers this year will be:

Julie Bentley
CEO, Girlguiding
Having dedicated her career to the not for profit sector, including as a youth worker, a young people’s drug and alcohol worker, Julie has gone on to hold a number of senior leadership positions in the sector for twenty years. Julie will speak to AVM nearly 5 years into her role as CEO at Girlguiding.

Vicky Browning
CEO, Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO)
Vicky heads up ACEVO, the UK’s largest and most influential network for Charity and Social Enterprise Leaders. For nearly 30 years, ACEVO have provided support, development and an inspiring, collective campaigning voice for their members across the UK, the leaders of small, community based groups, ambitious medium-sized organisations, and well known, well-loved national and international not-for-profits.

James Probert
Director of Strategy and Impact, City Year UK
James joined City Year UK in 2009 and, as Director of Impact, he oversees the design and evaluation of activities for school children and young people, and the expansion of the ‘service year’ concept to new areas. James will be speaking on the Full Time Social Action Review and any implications for the voluntary sector and specifically the leaders of volunteering in the sector as a result of the outcomes of the review, due out immediately before the conference.

Save the Date
So make sure to keep 18 October free and watch out for more news on the conference in the coming months. Remember that members will enjoy a substantial discount on conference tickets when bookings open.

AVM Welcomes Lords’ Recommendations On Charities

AVM has welcomed the key recommendation around supporting volunteer management in ‘Stronger charities for a stronger society’, the new report from the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities.

The report contains the recommendation:

We propose that funders should provide more resources for volunteer managers so that charities can make the best possible use of the generous contribution of their volunteers and support their efforts.

The recommendation is based on a submission from the Association of Volunteer Managers responding to the Select Committee’s call for evidence last year. This was bolstered by the committee’s own evidence gathering when they visited local charities who talked about their needs when involving volunteers in their work.

Debbie Usiskin, Chair of AVM, said: “We are over the moon at this news. Communicating the value and need for volunteer management as a recognised discipline is at the core of what AVM was set up to achieve. Having such high-profile confirmation of this is very welcome.”

AVM member Sheila Norris echoed these words: “Working in a local volunteer centre, I see first hand the impact that investing in volunteer management can have. I’m pleased that this new report recognises the resources needed to make volunteering happen.”

The committee’s own comments on the recommendation were: “Funders need to be more receptive to requests for resources for volunteer managers and co-ordinators, especially where charities are able to demonstrate a strong potential volunteer base. We recommend that Government guidance on public sector grants and contracts is amended to reflect this and set a standard for other funders.”

Learning & Development for Organisations – New Additional Benefits

The Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) has been the foremost body for volunteer managers since we launched in 2007 and we are continuing to grow. One of the reasons for our success is our membership-driven outlook – we were set up and are still run by volunteer managers for volunteer managers and this gives us the opportunity to create a network of peers sharing ideas and experiences. Over the years our membership base has been steadily increasing and we want to develop this still further to ensure that as many people as possible can access our services and we can continue to be relevant to the sector.

At our Annual Conference in October 2016 we announced the launch of a Learning and Development Package for organisations, to run alongside our existing individual membership model. We believe this will give a choice to organisations about how to be involved with us and will extend our reach to a wider group of people to help meet the growing demand from the sector for professionalisation of volunteer management.

Today we’re excited to announce that we’ve secured special rates on one-day training from internationally renowned strategic volunteer engagement specialists Rob Jackson Consulting. This new addition is just one of a range of discounts and benefits available organisation-wide when you sign-up.

We run a range of services promoting great volunteer management and raising the profile of the work volunteering professionals do. Earlier in the year we employed our first member of staff, an Events Manager, which has helped us to grow our range of events, seminars and conferences.

We’re here to promote great volunteer management and raise the profile of the work of volunteering professionals, to inform best practice and inspiration from across the sector and beyond and we believe that our new Learning and Development package to organisations will help us to achieve this still further as well as ensure that your staff team receive the very best support, resources and development opportunities in volunteer management.

To find out more please see here.

“Joining us will place your organisation at the forefront of volunteering development, and ensure that your managers are inspired, engaged and supported by a large network of volunteer management professionals across the country.  If your organisation involves volunteers and manages volunteer programmes, directly or indirectly, then this is the association for you.”
Debbie Usiskin, Chair, Association of Volunteer Managers

AVM Learning & Development Day: Engaging Young People Through Social Action

Following on from out latest Learning and Development event; Ruth Leonard, Head of Volunteering Development at Macmillan Cancer Support and AVM Director reflects on the importance of involving young people in voluntary roles.

For me, as a Director of AVM the ability for organisations to offer activities which engage young people is a sensible way of future proofing the volunteering movement – and being able to creatively respond to their needs and ideas can help improve the volunteering experience for all and lead to exciting meaningful developments for people to shape their futures and communities.

It is clear from the data that young people between 16 and 25 years old still represent the highest overall rate of volunteers compared with all other age groups. With a 4% increase on last year, rates of young people involved in formal volunteering are at their highest for over a decade[1]. 42% of young people are regularly participating in social action[2] and most of those who do feel that it is important to them; is part of their routine and is something they would always do – which is really positive.

However whilst appetite is high, awareness about volunteering and other social action opportunities does seem low. 41% who didn’t participate said they wouldn’t know where to begin or that it had just never occurred to them so it looks as though promoting just what is available and in places and ways that are identifiable to this age group is essential.

One of the biggest issues facing volunteer involving organisations is that young people just don’t identify with the term ‘volunteer’ nor ‘social action’[3]. As one participant put it “the first rule of volunteering: don’t mention volunteering”.

But once we get the messaging right young people fully understand the benefits of giving their time and energy – giving them the chance to develop life skills and valuable experience. Not that this is the only reason young people want to get involved, in fact the main reason given by 16-24 year olds who volunteer is that “they wanted to improve things, help people” with 56% of them identifying this – higher than across all other age groups[4]. Learning more skills was identified as the 2nd reason – again the highest of all age groups, but this was clearly to be alongside with enjoying themselves and socialising

All of which is a challenge – and opportunity – to think about the kind of roles we as volunteer managers’ offer; and how we offer them. Young people are looking to be challenged and to help to shape the activities they are involved with so we should be looking at our volunteer roles and tasks differently and ensure young people can contribute.  We also need to challenge our perceptions about what young people can – and want – to do. An example of this is from my professional role at Macmillan:

Abby Lennox is a remarkable 22 year old who is one of Macmillan’s Lead Volunteers for a service which provides practical and emotional support to people affected by cancer in Belfast. Abby effectively manages the service and provides support to other volunteers, something which traditionally we may have felt was not attractive to a young person. When asked what she’d say to others who were thinking about volunteering in the community she said “I’d say do it! You’ll not regret it and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner” Unsurprisingly Abby was a winner of the Young Macmillan Champion Awards for inspiring and exceptional young volunteers in 2015.

It is important to build recognition and reward into a volunteer programme and Macmillan is proud to be able to say a specific thank you to our young volunteers. One of this year’s winners is Zara Salim – a volunteer inspiring a generation. When the 13 year old’s granddad was diagnosed with cancer last year she was motivated to raise money for Macmillan by selling her own toys. She quickly reached her target but then went on to step-up her fundraising from organising a coffee morning to arranging an auction, contacting local businesses and being overwhelmed by generous donations. Zara’s passion and enthusiasm for volunteering seems boundless and she inspires others through sharing her story in the community and at school

Encouraging young volunteers to recognise their specific skills and reflect on what they’ve learnt through volunteering is also valuable – both to develop their own confidence and self-esteem but also to be able to demonstrate externally to future employers for example, and Macmillan has created a Development Journal in which volunteers can write down all the things they experience and learn while volunteering with the hope that it will be a useful tool to help set their goals, reflect on what they’ve learned and review their achievements.

The Association of Volunteer Managers is a great place to network with other volunteer managers – to hear about and share ideas from others at a range of different organisations and to be a central place to discuss issues such as ‘so how do we talk about volunteering if the word itself is a barrier?’! Our next networking day will be addressing this fascinating subject of recruiting and engaging young volunteers and will be a great opportunity to meet others and keep the debate going.

I have shared examples from my organisation because clearly it is the one I know best, but it would be great to hear from others – what kind of powerful tools do you use to engage young people and please do tell us your stories of inspirational young people who give time?

[1] NCVO’s Civil Society Almanac 2016
[2] #iwill youth social action survey 2015
[3] Livity research on Young People Volunteering in Health and Social Care
[4] Helping Out survey 2007

AVM’s Problem Solving Forum

Book HERE.

Venue:  Better Bankside | Bankside Community Centre | 18 Great Guildford Street | London | SE1 0FD

Date: Friday 3rd February 2017 (rescheduled from Thursday 1st December 2016)

Timings: Registration will open at 10:15 with presentations beginning at 10:30. The event will close at 13:30.

Agenda:

Being Volunteer Managers we have the privilege of working with truly inspiring and dedicated people on a daily basis. The sheer variety of people we come in to contact with via volunteering is what makes our work so enjoyable. But as with everything, difficult situations may occasionally arise.

Perhaps a volunteer wishes to make a complaint against another volunteer, a member of staff or the organisation. Alternatively, someone may wish to complain about a volunteer’s behaviour or contribution. Whatever the challenge it’s part of the Volunteer Manager’s role to ensure robust procedures are in place to deal with these situations clearly and fairly.

This 3 hour workshop will give an overview of current best practice and the kind of structure you should have in place as well as expert tips for solving challenging circumstances. We’ll also discuss common scenarios and how best to deal with them, wrapping up the day with a Q&A session.

This workshop is facilitated and delivered by Anne Marie Zaritsky, Head of Volunteering at the Royal Mencap Society and Lead Assessor for Investing in Volunteers.

Please note: Light refreshments will be provided throughout the day but lunch will not be, instead delegates are encouraged to bring their own or to purchase it from food vendors close to the venue.

Book your space HERE NOW

Not a member? Why not join AVM and save on the cost of your ticket?  YOU CAN JOIN 
HERE

Simply complete the paperwork and send us a cheque and then pop back here and book on as a member – what could be easier? No need to wait for confirmation of membership.

AVM Learning & Development Day: Engaging young people through social action

Book your space HERE.

Venue:  Better Bankside | Bankside Community Centre | 18 Great Guildford Street | London | SE1 0FD

Date: Monday 21st November 2016

Timings: Registration will open at 10:00 with presentations beginning at 10:30. The day will close at 16:30.

Agenda:

Working with #iwill campaign this learning and development day aims to showcase the role that young people can play in your organisation hearing from those who are already leading the way in involving young people from across the voluntary sector.

Presentations will include:

What the Research Tells Us
Adam Wilson – Trusts & Statutory Fundraising Executive – Vinspired

Using input from their research with young people and insights from the Youth Social Action Survey you’ll hear about what young people want to do and how to get them involved.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s AAP Scheme
Lizzie Usher – Programme & Quality Manager – The Duke of Edinburgh Award

Understanding the DofE  AAP licence, how to get involved and working with DofE volunteers

Developing Girlguiding and its young members through social action
Tamsin Fudge – Membership Recruitment Manager – Girlguiding

Over the last two years Girlguiding has delivered two pilot projects that sought to bring more young people into the organisation through delivering social action. One project focused on working with the National Citizenship Service (NCS) giving their graduates opportunities within Girlguiding.

The other gave increased access to social action in local communities through the Uniformed Youth Social Action Fund project (UYSAF). The presentation will discuss the two different approaches and the outcomes and learning from both that have enhanced the experience of the young people and the development of growth work nationally.

Putting Ideas into Action
Sue Torrison – Assistant Head of Social Action and Volunteering

We’ll hear from The Medway Youth Trust on their inspiring ways to engage vulnerable young people from the East in social action opportunities to improve the local community and develop employability skills.

Please note: Light refreshments will be provided throughout the day but lunch will not be, instead delegates are encouraged to bring their own or to purchase it from food vendors close to the venue.

To See a full agenda and to book your space Here

Not a member? Why not join AVM and save on the cost of your ticket?  YOU CAN JOIN HERE

Simply complete the paperwork and send us a cheque and then pop back here and book on as a member – what could be easier? No need to wait for confirmation of membership.