Why Involve Volunteers?

Sometimes charitable organisations feel that because they operate within the voluntary sector they should involve volunteers, however this should not always be the case.  We can help you assess whether you are ready to involve volunteers, by providing advice and support tailored to meet your needs.

There are many good reasons to involve volunteers many of which include extending or adding value to services provided within communities. But there are also bad reasons e.g. to replace paid staff because it looks good, because you feel you should.

Before you involve volunteers in your organisation you need to sit down and work out why require volunteer support. If you cannot come up with a reasonable argument then the chances are it isn’t appropriate to involve them. Secondly you need to decide whether it is practical to involve volunteers in your organisation. Lots of organisations decide to take on a volunteer to ‘help out’ without planning:

* what their role will be?
* how they will be managed?
* what will they be tasked to do?
* who will support them?
* will they be trained?
* have you enough funding to reimburse volunteer expenses?

If you can’t answer all of these questions then your organisation probably isn’t ready to involve volunteers.

It is good to be flexible and adapt to the skills and experience of people offering their time but you do need some idea around areas of work that is appropriate for and can be carried out by volunteers. If you take on volunteers without proper planning and preparation then you are setting yourself up to fail. The volunteer will have a poor experience and may not offer their time again.

To attract and recruit volunteers you need to understand what makes people want to volunteer. There is an assumption that people do it purely because it is worthwhile, and while this is maybe true for some, there are other reasons which are equally important.

Volunteering requires commitment, it has to fit in with all aspects of the volunteer’s life. It is therefore useful to look at why people get involved in activities outside of paid work for some indication of the personal satisfaction they may be looking for from their voluntary work.

Some of the most common reasons for volunteering are:
* to do something different
* gain skills and experience
* to put existing skills to good use
* to build confidence and self–esteem
* to gain qualifications or accreditation
* to meet new people and make new friends
* to work in, improve or be part of their community
* to meet a challenge
* to work with a particular group of people
* to get recognition
* to keep busy
* to have fun

As well as understanding peoples’ motives for volunteering, you need to understand the benefits they can expect to receive by volunteering with your organisation. These may include:

* a new understanding of your cause, client group or issue
* training in a specific skill
* the opportunity to interact with many different people
* the pleasure of being part of a team
* something to put on a CV
* certificate for completion of training or service
* out of pocket expenses

Dudley Volunteer Centre can provide information and support on all aspects of involving volunteers e.g. sample policies, handbooks etc. We also offer free volunteer management training and hold an extensive reference library of information on all things volunteering. Please contact the Volunteer Centre on mailto:volunteering@dudleycvs.org.uk

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