AVM’s annual member survey is now open!

Every year we ask our members for their thoughts on their membership, and how we can improve it. If you’re an AVM member, your input is important in helping us to make your membership the best it can be for all our members.

The survey will take around 15 minutes to complete, and is completely anonymous. We share the topline results with you, our members. 

By taking part, you’re helping us to shape the future of AVM membership. 

The survey is now open, and closes XXX date.

Thank you for your time – every response makes a big difference!

AVM announces its first official partnership with TeamKinetic

AVM is excited to announce that news of our first official corporate partner, with volunteer management software organisation TeamKinetic.

Since first working together five years ago, TeamKinetic has been a passionate advocate for the importance of the AVM.

AVM welcomes this formal partnership. 

Both organisations share the same passion and desire to progress the professionalism of those who involve volunteers. AVM’s goal as an independent membership body is one that supports, represents and champions people in volunteer management in the UK regardless of field, discipline or sector. As an organisation primarily run by volunteers TeamKinetic is proud to be able to directly support their work as a partner as they offer training, campaign on key issues and provide peer to peer support to volunteer managers. 

The partnership is hoping to offer the membership added value and over the next few months will be looking to announce a number of special offers only available to AVM members and supporters. TeamKinetic have spent the last 13 years on the edge of customer-led innovation surrounding digital volunteering and will be continuing to support the campaigns undertaken by AVM. They are looking forward to sharing their experience and knowledge with the AVM members. 

Chair of AVM, Ruth Leonard says: “this is a really exciting next step for the organisation and will enable us to think about how we can offer more to volunteer managers. AVM is proud of our heritage of being run by and for our members and want to be able to remain relevant into the future. TeamKinetic’s enthusiasm and support for AVM has been clear throughout our shared working and I’m looking forward to develop this further.”  

Sales Director, Chris Martin has expressed his gratitude towards Jo Gibney and Ruth Leonard “for all their hard work in helping to make this a reality and I sincerely hope we can continue to support the wonderful work and development of AVM for a long time to come.” 

Watch the official announcement by AVM’s Chair, Ruth Leonard.

Watch the interview between Ruth and Chris.

For any organisations or individuals who work with Volunteers, that are not already aware of TeamKinetic and their work, you can visit their website

Get your tickets for AVM’s 2021 Annual Conference 2021

October Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st, 10:00 – 13:00 | Tickets from £40

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AVM’s annual conference for volunteer managers is back and online on Zoom Wed 20 & Thu 21 October 2021.

The AVM conference is always a highlight in our year. Even though we say so ourselves we believe it is the premier event in the UK for volunteer managers, leaders and heads of volunteering. 

We aim to bring together some of the best speakers from our sector. People who are at the forefront of volunteer management and thought-leadership, and those from outside of volunteer management, who will challenge and provoke us to think differently.

The 2021 conference will be held across two days – Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 October, 10 am to 1pm. Each day will feature a keynote speaker with Q&A, along with workshops to choose from on a variety of themes (seven on Wednesday 20th and six on Thursday 21st), plus Working with Emotions in Volunteering Toolkit (Day 1) and a Live Panel Session (Day 2).

For 2021 we are again holding a virtual conference on Zoom. Find out how to make the most of AVM events on Zoom.

Find out more and how to book your ticket


Agenda

Day 1: Wednesday 20 October

  • 09:30 Our virtual doors open for registration and (optional) pre-conference networking
    Join AVM and other delegates for informal networking in Zoom, ahead of our Conference.
  • 10:00 Conference opens with a welcome from Ruth Leonard, Chair of AVM
  • 10:10 Keynote: ‘Shaping the Future of Volunteering post Covid19: How we can embed volunteering in our communities’, Matt Hyde OBE – Chief Executive, The Scout Association
    Matt will give a 20 minute keynote speech, followed by a 20 Q&A, with questions facilitated by Ruth Leonard.
  • 11:00 Break and move to your workshops
    An opportunity for a cuppa and a comfort break, before you move to your chosen workshop.
    All workshops will be running in different Zooms and you will need to leave the main Zoom and join your workshop’s Zoom link.
  • 11:20 Workshops start (details below)
    Each workshop will be in a separate Zoom meeting, hosted by a member of the AVM Board and an AVM conference volunteer.
    Please book one workshop choice per day.
  • 12:05 Break and come back to main Zoom for 12:25pm
    An opportunity for a cuppa and a comfort break after your workshop, before you re-join the main Zoom.
  • 12:25 Plenary session: Launch of the ‘Working with Emotions in Volunteering Toolkit’
    This live session will include time for questions.
  • 12:55 Closing remarks
  • 13:00 Conference closes
  • 14:30 – 15:30: Networking
    Join us on Zoom to network and share with your peers. The Wednesday session has been moved from earlier advertised.

Day 2: Thursday 21 October

  • 09:30 Our virtual doors open for registration and (optional) pre-conference networking
    Join AVM and other delegates for informal networking in Zoom, ahead of the event.
  • 10:00 Conference opens with a welcome from Ruth Leonard, Chair of AVM
  • 10:10 Keynote: ‘Renaissance or regression? The five themes that are going to dominate volunteering management after the pandemic’, Joe Saxton – Driver of Ideas at nfpSynergy and its founder
    Joe will give a 20 minute keynote speech, followed by a 20 Q&A, with questions facilitated by Ruth Leonard.
  • 11:00 Break and move to your workshops
    An opportunity for a cuppa and a comfort break, before you move to your chosen workshop.
    All workshops will be running in different Zooms and you will need to leave the main Zoom and join your workshop’s Zoom link.
  • 11:20 Workshops start (details below)
    Each workshop will be in a separate Zoom meeting, hosted by a member of the AVM Board and an AVM conference volunteer.
    Please book one workshop choice per day.
  • 12:05 Break and come back to main Zoom for 12:25pm
    An opportunity for a cuppa and a comfort break after your workshop, before you re-join the main Zoom.
  • 12:25 Live panel session
    The live panel session will be your opportunity to ask your questions of our expert panel members (tbc).
  • 12:55 Closing remarks
  • 13:00 Conference closes
  • 14:30 – 15:30: Networking
    Join us on Zoom to network and share with your peers.

Workshops

  • Workshop A: Volunteering Management in the Digital Space, Carly Bell, Volunteering Manager, Media Trust & Rob Janke, Marketing & CRM Manager, Media Trust
  • Wednesday 20th only. Workshop B: Making the Volunteer Experience Inclusive, Jarina Choudhury (She/They), Strategic Volunteering Lead, NCVO & Amy McGarvey (She/They), Research Manager, NCVO
  • Workshop C: How to genuinely engage your audiences: an introduction to co-production, Jo Keller, Head of Volunteering, RNIB
  • Workshop D: Assessing impact in challenging times, Shehnaaz Latif, Associate, NCVO
  • Workshop E: Investing in Volunteers – UK standards for volunteer involving organisations, Korina Tsioni (She/Her), Volunteering Quality and Resources Officer, WCVA – on behalf of the UK IiV Operations group
  • Workshop F: “What have student volunteers ever done for us?!” – bursting myths and stereotypes, Mariana Vieira da Rocha, National Chair, UK Student Volunteering Network and Volunteering and Civic Engagement Manager, University of West London, and David Coles, Volunteer Centre Manager, London School of Economics
  • Workshop G: Befriending: maintaining quality and impact when you move online, Anne-Marie Zaritsky, Head of Volunteering, Mencap

Networking

When it comes to networking, we know that nothing quite beats being face to face in person. However, as many of us have become accustomed to, online face to face isn’t a bad second choice. We will be using a Zoom meeting to enable you to chat with other leaders of volunteering from across a variety of sectors and organisations during this conference.

This year we will be offering networking a variety of networking opportunities:

  • Join us and other delegates for a Zoom networking call each afternoon, to discuss what you’ve learnt from the conference with your peers. We’ll be running these sessions at 4pm on Wednesday 20th October, and 2:30pm on Thursday 21st October.
  • Join us in a private group on Voluntary Voice for all conference attendees to join. The group will open the week before the conference, and will give you the opportunity to network with other delegates ahead of time.
  • Sign up to AVM Conference Connect when you register, and grow your professional network. If you sign up we will randomly match you with another delegate, and connect you over email once the conference is over, so you can connect over a virtual (or real life, if you’re near enough) cuppa. 

Find out more and how to book your ticket


Pricing

AVM members are eligible for a member discount on our Conference. Please select this at the checkout.

PricingStandard priceAVM members’ discounted price
Both days (early bird)£130£70
One day (early bird)£70£40
Both days £160£80
One day£90£50

We are ticketing through TicketTailor as our website is in the process of being upgraded.

If you’re not an AVM member, you can join AVM today to access your discount for this, and future events – including our annual conference in October – as well as other benefits of AVM membership, including:

  • Exclusive member-only events, including AVM’s business book club
  • A back catalogue of selected past event recordings 
  • AVM Connect, our random facilitated networking, where we connect you to expand your networks
  • AVM’s mentoring programme

Join AVM today to take control of your professional development.

Don’t delay: this event has limited places, so sign up today!

Find out more and how to book your ticket

Terms and conditions of ticket sales

Payment and cancellation terms

Payment must be made by the date of the event.

If you require an invoice, please ensure you book your place a minimum of two weeks before the start date of the event. After that we will only accept payment by credit card or PayPal.

Want to pay by credit card but can’t pay now? No problem! You can pay against an invoice by credit card (or PayPal): we will send you a link to do so.

As you follow the online booking process – select the payment option at checkout “Request invoice”. If you need us to add a payment reference or purchase order number to the invoice – just add it in the “Additional information” section when confirming your billing details at checkout.

You’ll receive your invoice by email once we have accepted your booking. You can pay for your ticket by BACS or online with a credit or debit card. Please note we no longer accept payment by cheque.

We will check your membership status at time of booking. If you are not a current member – or have not applied for membership – you will be re-invoiced at the non-member rate.

We know things happen and that sometimes you can’t come to an event. If you are unable to come, you can pass your ticket on to a colleague, but if they are not an AVM member they will need to join AVM. If they don’t, they will be charged at the non-member rate.

If you have to cancel, please let us know by email.

  • Cancellations received more than 20 days before the start of the event – before or on 30th September – regardless of date booked, will incur a 25% cancellation charge, whether the place has been paid for or not,
  • Cancellations received 19–0 days before the start of the event – on or after 1st October – regardless of date booked, will incur a 100% cancellation charge, whether the place has been paid for or not.

AVM will not accept liability for people unable to attend due to circumstances outside our control, such as travel disruption, work commitments, illness, or other personal commitments.

Where circumstances force AVM to cancel an event, the liability of AVM shall be limited to a refund of any fees paid for tickets to that particular event. AVM is not liable for any consequential loss, such as travel costs you may incur.

L&D organisational package holders are limited to 10 tickets per organisation for AVM’s annual conference. If you would like to make a bulk order, please get in touch [email protected]

Buying for colleagues?

If you are buying tickets for colleagues you can only buy tickets at the member rate for them if they are currently members. We reserve the right to re-issue an invoice at the non-member rate if they are not a member.

Join AVM now

You can join AVM online now to qualify for your event discount. As long as your application is submitted, you can purchase tickets for our events at the member rate. You will need to complete your membership payment, otherwise you will be liable for the non-member price for the event.

Disclaimers

Whilst the programme is correct at time of going to press, AVM reserves the right to change details of an event without notice. Alterations may occasionally be necessary due to circumstances beyond our control.

Views expressed by speakers are their own. AVM disclaims any liability for advice given, or views expressed, by any speaker at the event or in any documentation provided to delegates.

By attending AVM’s conference on Zoom, your profile information, including your name and profile picture, may be visible to other attendees. Your name and email address will also be visible to AVM, the account owner and host when you buy your ticket and register on Zoom.

Your name, job title and organisation will be shared as a delegate list on a conference private web page, to facilitate networking. This will only be made available to those who have access to the event page: AVM staff and volunteers, event delegates, speakers and conference sponsors.

If you do not want your details in the list, please let us know at least three weeks in advance of the event. This delegate list should not be used for sales to our delegates, either during or after the event.

Buy tickets for Association of Volunteer Managers

AVM Masterclass – Co-production: how to involve volunteers in planning and decision making

Cover image for event

A masterclass session on involving volunteers in planning and decision making through co-production

Thursday 30th September 2021 | 1:30 – 4:00 pm | Tickets from £40 (Member-rate tickets available)

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Are you trying to involve volunteers in strategic planning and decision-making so they feel more invested in the organisation and its future direction?

Volunteers have a wealth of ideas, skills and experience to bring to the table and they have already shown their commitment to your organisation. Would you like to understand how to ensure their voices and opinions are heard while setting clear boundaries and managing expectations? Do you want to know how to create a safe and brave space suitable for volunteers, operational staff and senior managers to tackle strategic planning cohesively?

Well, look no further, this is the event for you!

We’ve invited a co-production professional, and the experts by experience (volunteers) she works alongside, to share their experience of engaging volunteers in strategic planning and decision making. Our speakers will deliver a powerful masterclass, sharing tips on how to involve volunteers in big picture thinking within your organisation.

They will share the MS Society co-production toolkit filled with ideas and resources that you can utilise in your own organisation. There will be the chance to take part in action learning sets in order to put some of the learning into action and consider how you might take forward the ideas and suggestions put forward during the masterclass.

You’ll have the opportunity to network with other volunteer managers as well as reflect and plan what you’ll do next to embed co-production into your volunteering strategy.

At this event you will:

  • hear from a co-production expert about how you can implement co-production into your organisation
  • hear from experts by experience (volunteers) involved in co-production
  • learn about the MS Society’s co-production toolkit and how to implement it
  • participate in an interactive learning session to discover how you could embed co-production within your organisation

As this is a masterclass, we will be limiting to 30 participants, so don’t delay, sign up today.

Agenda

This is a half day event, starting at 1:30 pm, and will be on Zoom (read our Zoom tips for getting the best out of online events). There will be opportunities to ask our speakers questions, and discuss the topic in small groups.

  • 1:30 pm    Networking, introductions and welcome
  • 1:40 pm    Masterclass
  • 2:40 pm    Q&A
  • 3 pm         Break
  • 3:15 pm   Interactive learning session (facilitated in small groups)
  • 3:55 pm   Wrap up and closing remarks
  • 4 pm        Event ends, optional networking for those who wish to stay on

Don’t delay: this event has limited places, so sign up today! Ticket prices: £60 non-members, £40 AVM members

Book your ticket today

About our speaker

Jess Mansel, Senior Engagement Officer, MS Society

Jess Mansel is the Senior Engagement, Involvement and Empowerment Officer at the MS Society UK. She works with the MS Society Experts by Experience network, an online group who share their first-hand experiences of MS. The Experts by Experience network works alongside Jess and her colleagues across the UK to shape and design the services their community needs. Jess works with the MS community to make sure their work reflects all of the community’s experiences and ideas, and she is passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion.

Making this event accessible

Captions will be enabled on Zoom, for those who require them.

If you need support to access this event, please let us know when you book. If you have any questions ahead of booking, please do get in touch.

Discount for AVM members

AVM members are eligible for a discount on the event ticket price. Please check your latest members’ email for your discount code. To access your discount, please add the code into the Coupon code section before you check out.

If you’re not an AVM member, you can join AVM today to access your discount to this, and future public events – including our annual conference in October, as well as other benefits of AVM membership, including:

  • Exclusive member-only events, including AVM’s business book club
  • A back catalogue of selected past events
  • AVM Connect, our random matching, connecting you to expand your networks
  • AVM’s mentoring programme

Join AVM today to take control of your professional development and access your discount to this event.


Terms and conditions of ticket sales

See our full terms and conditions below.

You can pay by credit card or request an invoice at the checkout.

Please familiarise yourselves with our cancellation policy, and payment terms below. We do require payment to be made before the event.

We know things happen and that sometimes you can’t come to an event. If you are unable to come, please let us know in advance, as you may be able to pass your ticket on to a colleague. If your colleague is not an AVM member they will need to join AVM, or we will invoice the non-member rate difference.

The agenda is correct at time of publication. AVM will contact you about any significant changes in advance of the event.

AVM will not accept liability for any ability to attend this event due to technical issues with a delegate’s equipment. If technical difficulties prevent AVM from hosting this event, we will endeavour to reschedule the conference to another date, and a full or partial refund will be offered if the new date is unsuitable.

Book your ticket today

Do you feel like it would be great to talk more with other volunteer leaders?

We know from our member’s feedback that volunteer managers often feel like they are the only one who gets what they are going through, and that coming together with other volunteer managers is always an opportunity to share ideas, concerns and mutual support.

A request for peer support is often one of the first things we hear when volunteer managers are asked what they want to get from membership of groups like AVM, the Voluntary Voice platform, and talking to members at the AVM Conference.

To set the ball rolling we shall launch our first peer support session on will be on Zoom Monday 12th of July at 4.30pm. This session will be hosted by AVM Director Neil Monk.

This meeting is open to all AVM members. Future events will be planned by location (to hopefully enable future meet-ups in person), and also by sector (so watch this space).

Find out more and register your place for this session. 

Announcing the Vision for Volunteering

The last year has underlined the important role of volunteers and volunteering in all our lives and we have all seen and felt the benefits. It is clear that volunteering has a fundamental role to connect people and communities. Volunteering is broad, from spanning hyper-local acts of neighbourliness to national programmes enabling people to help out where they are needed. It is a way for people to share skills, resources and time, and it offers volunteers a sense of purpose and fulfilment as well as delivering services and support to people and communities.

There is a clear need to harness the important role volunteering has played during the pandemic, and nurture it for the coming years as we recover from Covid. Voluntary sector infrastructure organisations The National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA), the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), together with Volunteering Matters and the Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM), have been working together through the pandemic as the focus and role of volunteering has changed.

Now AVM, NAVCA, NCVO and Volunteering Matters are working to create a space for people from all parts of the voluntary and community sector to come together and develop a long-term Vision for Volunteering. The intention is to fully integrate volunteering into post-Covid recovery, harnessing the skills, experience and enthusiasm of volunteers.


Find out more on the Vision for Volunteering website.

An Updated Open Letter to Senior Managers and Boards of Volunteer Involving and Deploying Organisations in all Sectors

Last year a coalition of infrastructure bodies, including AVM, wrote an open letter to senior leaders which we launched at our event on the future of volunteer management during volunteers week. To reflect some of the activity which has happened over the pandemic we have refreshed this letter and are issuing it today as Volunteers Week 2021 comes to an end.

The contribution of people giving their time and sharing their assets within their communities has been a source of positivity and optimism through the pandemic; and we want to ensure that this can be enabled and highlighted as we move forward. Taking the learning from some of the great initiatives – including how to recognise when infrastructure needs to be kept at a minimum – is something which Volunteer Managers are well placed to do, and AVM supports the call to ensure that Leaders of Volunteering have a place at the decision making table within their organisations, to help them become sustainable for the future,  through thinking in new ways

Please lets keep this conversation going and use this as an opportunity to genuinely and meaningfully recognise and celebrate what can be achieved through volunteering.

Ruth

Download the letter


Ruth Leonard is Chair of AVM, and Head of Volunteering Development at Macmillan Cancer Support.

Personal reflections on ‘Struggle’, by Grace Marshall

The surprising truth, beauty and opportunity hidden behind life’s sh*ttier moments

Jo Parry, AVM member (my own views, not representing AVM, but had great fun discussing them with other members at a recent AVM members’ book club.)

‘Struggle’… is that a word that has resonated with you recently?

I was initially drawn to the title of the book ‘Struggle’ as it perfectly defined where I was at that moment. ‘Life’s sh*ttier moments’… I think we have all had a few of those in the past year!

Picking up the book, I hoped it would help me come through to ‘the other side’ of struggle. It did something far more powerful. Grace Marshall encourages the reader to acknowledge there will often be struggle and sh*t moments in life. To not fight against it, run away or see it as a failure but to accept that it is exactly where you need to be to. Grace suggests that ‘rather than waiting for the struggle to pass, we live out life in all it’s fullness, whatever the situation, wherever we find ourselves’.

Grace’s words and the topics discussed in the book provoked some personal reflections on the last year and home, work, and volunteering life.

Throughout the pandemic, it feels like sector colleagues, whether out of work, in work or on furlough repetitively, shared the same heightened challenge – learning to be comfortable in discomfort. ‘Struggle’ discusses the how we might start to move from feeling comfortable in what we know to learning to feel comfortable in what we don’t know.

We have all had to tread into the unknown this year. ‘Struggle’ explores how this is when we ‘learn, how we develop…and discover how capable we are’ as ‘there is often magic in the mess’. With our adoption of new ways of working, perhaps the book would suggest we have grown more than ever this year. Have our own relationships with risk evolved to help us to step out of our comfort zones more?

We now more than ever recognise the importance of prioritising the areas of life most important to us. ‘Struggle’ explores the biology and psychology of wellbeing and self-care (‘not necessarily ‘spa days and smoothies’) in a refreshing way. That ‘Technology is 24/7, humans are not’. Parallels drawn to the dangers of continued ploughing resulting in a ‘failed crop’. Might we all need a ‘fallow season’ after such a challenging year?

‘Struggle’ is built around bitesize chunks and short chapters which make it very readable and easy to pick up and put down (useful if you have a short attention span!). It cleverly builds a logical path of encouragement, balancing storytelling, and curiosity through philosophical and practical discussion points. It is warm, non-judgemental, accepting and encourages you to take the same approach towards others and their Struggle. I highly recommend.

The power of a THANK YOU

A guest blog for Volunteers’ Week, from AVM member Imo Greatbatch, Head of Volunteering at England Netball.

Imo and her two boys

Last year I wrote a blog on the netball volunteer strategic journey and the silver-linings it presented to a grey COVID-19 cloud (read it here). This year I am being ‘braver’ (as Brené Brown would say), sharing a story a little closer to home… an insight into life as a leader supporting volunteers emerging from the pandemic, which also made me want to champion the value and importance of a simple ‘Thank You’.

I am hugely passionate about volunteering, people, and being a part-time working mum, but if I am totally honest with you, this has turned out to be one of the most challenging years of my life. I’ve cried in more meetings than I would professionally like to confess to, and experienced anxiety in ways that has been quite debilitating.

Why am I telling you this?

It is only in the past month that something has started to change, the balance is positively shifting (slowly) to experiencing more good days than tough ones and I thought sharing this might help others going through similar, know that it will get better.

In Netball we have over 3000 member organisations (Clubs, Leagues, Counties and Regions, Schools and Universities) catering for thousands of netballers. Women and girls who love being on court together. Most are powered by volunteers (defined as ‘someone who gives their time and talents freely to make netball happen and is not paid more than out of pocket expenses’).

As a National Governing Body (NGB), we have been focussed on equipping and empowering those restarting netball to build knowledge and confidence interpreting the government guidance, and developing a care package of support tools to enable them to manage and mitigate risk for the netball opportunities they organise.

Our jobs have not been as we knew them, we have all muscled in to do what we can, support each other and consistently reflect and re-evaluate, if what we are doing provides the best possible support to empower people to do this, to the best of their ability.

Volunteers have been incredible this year, dedicating significant hours reading ‘restart’ guidance, learning how to be a COVID-19 officer (over 2500 people have stepped in to fulfil this critical role), attend forums to listen and share experiences, all to ensure they can enable participants to access netball in the safest way possible.

I have started to do a weekly reflection, it inspired me to action my gratitude, by writing this blog to say a big Thank You to those who have supported me and more importantly, the volunteers I champion.

This volunteers week a few SPECIAL THANK YOU’s…..

  1. To all staff at England Netball for genuinely caring about supporting volunteers (and me) to help us get community netball back up and running.
  2. To fellow volunteer leaders/managers (within, and beyond sport), through the numerous forums we’ve been on together, you always inspire me. I have witnessed how you all give every ounce of energy you have, to supporting the volunteers, supporting your causes.
  3. Last and not least, to ALL volunteers (especially those in netball, obviously!) for supporting so many of us. We would not be able to do what we do without you, we will build back stronger from this because of the incredible partnership we have been re-building to empower you, support us, enrich lives through netball.

To finish, if you’re having a tough time, reach out for support. My biggest lesson learnt this year is the importance of putting ‘me’ first, to be my best for others. Reaching out for support was more helpful than the fear I felt of seeking it. Please make sure you look after you.

If you read this and think you’ve been able to access sport or, do something because of the time a volunteer has invested, don’t forget to say Thank You. It may seem simple (because it is!) but don’t underestimate how many forget, it’s crazy how big, and positive the difference it could make.

Happy #VolunteersWeek.

Guest blog: How our new Active Lives report has given us a deeper understanding of volunteering in England

This guest blog by Jenny Betteridge, Strategic lead for volunteering, Sport England, was originally published on the Sport England website.


Our latest Active Lives Adult Survey report, which we’ve published today, gives an overview of volunteering in sport and physical activity in England.

It shows that one in five adults – just under 10 million people – gave up their time to support sport and physical activity at some point across the 12 months from November 2019 to November 2020.

It underlines what we already knew: the response by sports volunteers to the challenge posed by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has been inspirational and phenomenal.

While many will have had to make the difficult decision to step back to shield themselves or protect family members, others have been able to step forward to help their communities when they needed it most. And now community clubs and groups are reaching out to welcome their volunteers back.

Nevertheless, while the importance of volunteers has remained, the pandemic has had a profound impact on people’s relationship with volunteering.

Whether it was learning new digital skills and hosting AGMs online or creating remote connections to support and motivate others in new ways, Covid-19 has changed habits and it has never been more important for us to understand the roles volunteers perform.

We know that, with greater understanding and insight, organisations with volunteers are better able to adapt their work, invest in volunteer support and engage their volunteers (and prospective volunteers) to understand their experience.

This is why, for the first time in four years, the volunteering questions we asked within Active Lives have changed.

Instead of focusing on a twice-a-year threshold for our reporting, we now ask a wider question about how often (the frequency) someone gives their time to support sport and activity.

We believe this will allow voluntary organisations to explore whether people are more likely to volunteer weekly, monthly, or as one-off or occasional opportunities. 

We also now ask about the amount of time a person usually gives while volunteering – the average duration of each session.

Recent years have seen a growth in micro-volunteering opportunities, where someone can meaningfully contribute to a team effort in short chunks of time and can fit better around busy lives. Understanding more about this will again help organisations offer a range of options to cater for a wider variety of people.

As with previous reports, we continue to ask questions about the roles people are performing, but we now recognise the invaluable role of ‘organising fundraising’ for their sports club or group.

Finally, we now ask current volunteers about how long they have been volunteering in their current role. We know from other studies, such as the National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ Time Well Spent, that 70% of people in the UK volunteer at some point in their lives, but only 7% volunteer consistently throughout.

Our own work with Jump Projects, Lifecycle of Volunteering in Sport (download), which was published in 2019, suggests the average time volunteering in sport is 5.9 years. Now this question is incorporated into Active Lives, we’ll be able to understand if this is changing over time.

We hope these more nuanced changes to Active Lives will enable even more voluntary organisations to continue to build their understanding and insight and that, by coming together to share our learning, we will do even more to support people to volunteer.

Active Lives is a national survey and we would encourage all organisations to use this data alongside their own volunteer surveys.

We’ve produced a guide (download) to help organisations establish their own annual volunteer survey, including a bank of suitable questions, but anyone who would like some help developing a volunteer survey please get in touch.