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Why Involve Volunteers

This is the place to start. Before thinking about policies or even what they might do, the first question is ‘Why?’ 

The ‘Why’ is a reference point for the rest of your volunteer programme. It explains the greater purpose that will be achieved through involving volunteers, over and above the specific tasks that they might do.

There are a number of common reasons for involving volunteers:

  • to increase capacity
  • to improve the quality of service
  • to enable staff to focus on more important tasks
  • there is no funding to pay staff

Alongside practical reasons, there can be qualitative, community based and strategic motives for involving volunteers.  This is why involving senior managers in the ‘Nuts & Bolts’ post-it exercise to develop volunteer roles is so useful.

Involving volunteers can:

  • Help reflect and build a bridge between us and the community we serve
  • Help us engage with hard to reach clients
  • Clients engage differently with volunteers (peers) than with staff
  • Volunteers bring diversity which enriches the organisation
  • Volunteers bring a range of qualities, skills and expertise that you may not get from the staff in a team e.g languages, cultural understanding, specialist skills, personal experiences
  • Volunteers can demonstrate that you value your community or clients and their experiences, and that you want to invest in their future by training them to volunteer

Answers to the question ‘why involve volunteers’ will have a significant influence on the structure and implementation of your volunteering programme. In all volunteering, there is a balance of benefit between what the organisation gains, and what the individual gains. But one organisation might be primarily interested in increased capacity whereas another may exist to empower members of the community.  The first organisation may only accept highly skilled volunteers needing minimal training from staff. The other might take people with low confidence knowing that staff will invest a lot of time in supporting them.

The ‘Nuts & Bolts’ post-it exercise will help you work out what training your volunteers will need.  In some cases organisations may find that running their volunteering programme takes so much time that it does not increase capacity or free up staff. Answering the ‘Why’ will help you decide whether or not this is important – other gains may justify the investment in staff time.

Addressing ‘why involve volunteers’ will also help flush out any concerns you might have, such as how you will maintain a consistent, reliable quality of service if it is delivered by volunteers.  You can then test out whether you can or cannot deal with these concerns, through training and supervision, to ensure that your volunteering programme adds value to what your organisation has set out to do.

Further support:

See our Managing Volunteers and Good Practice resources pages to help you get everything you need in place.

When you have developed a role you can Advertise your role here

If you would like to talk to a member of the team about setting up a volunteer programme or involving new volunteers please contact us