nfpSynergy - research consultancy helping not-for-profits thrive
Rick Wright takes a look at some examples of volunteering and how effective engagement and development can change things for everyone...
With Kevin Costner besieging our office and the release of another two parts of nfpSynergy’s mammoth volunteering report The New Alchemy, we thought this might be a good time to take a quick look at the impact that determined individuals can have on an organisation’s work.
Most volunteers are now motivated by the chance to develop new and existing skills, according to a new report. ‘The New Alchemy’, written by research consultancy nfpSynergy, also says people want their experience to be personalised and flexible, rather than traditional “envelope stuffing and money-counting.”
The report is based on research and the results of a survey with volunteer managers. Nearly half of those polled felt young people volunteer to develop new or existing skills, while over a third said the same about the middle aged. It was felt skills were less important to older people, who instead volunteer for friendship and company.
Between 19 and 25% of the managers surveyed thought volunteers of all ages gave their time because they believed in the cause, while around 3% attributed it to religion. The older the volunteers were, the more likely they were to want to ‘give something back’, the poll said.
The report goes on to look at what volunteers want to get out of their time, with 80% of volunteer managers agreeing that volunteers were more aware of what they want from their experience.
Parts 4 and 5 of our volunteering report look at motivations,engagement and retaining your volunteers.
These next two parts of The New Alchemy deal with two specific issues: changing volunteering mechanics, and volunteering engagement amongst key demographics.
Part 4 looks at how the mechanics of volunteering are changing. This part gives particular focus to the importance of volunteering “brands”; how volunteers’ engagement has changed; and how charities can adapt their strategies to get the best out of their volunteers.
Part 5 looks at developing engagement with young people, old people and families in volunteering. It examines how young people are using voluntary positions to accrue experience, how volunteering in the older demographic is increasingly competing with a range of other activities and the opportunities for family engagement that lie within group volunteering.
For over 20 years, Scope has offered a service called Face 2 Face to provide befriending for parents of disabled children. It is run by professionally trained volunteers who themselves are parents of disabled children and is funded in part by The BIG Lottery Fund. The BIG Lottery Fund put forward the money for Scope to commission an independent evaluation of Face 2 Face. The project aimed to ensure its impact was clearly evidenced and that areas of improvement were identified to enable decisions on further funding.
We conducted in-depth face to face and telephone interviews with parents of disabled children, as well as interviews with Face 2 Face volunteers and staff. Our experience of conducting research on sensitive subjects meant we treated participants with the very same values of care, empathy and non-judgement that underpin Face 2 Face itself. As a result, participants were willing to share personal and private details, thoughts and feelings about family life. This was essential in understanding their needs for such a support service and discovering how Face 2 Face meets those.
Our final report portrayed the lives and needs of the beneficiaries and the way in which Scope’s delivery of Face 2 Face meets those needs more effectively than any other single intervention. We also provided recommendations for ongoing evaluation, including the challenge of gaining hard measures of soft outcomes. Having submitted this report to a key funder with an initially positive response, Scope is now waiting to hear whether funding will be granted.
Text giving decisively overtakes cheque in 2014
In 2014, levels of giving by cheque fell consistently below text message giving for the first time. Text giving has grown remarkably over the last few years, but it is worth noting the strong age bias in these results. Among 16-24 year olds, 12% use cheques and 31% give by text, but the situation is reversed among the over 65s, with 20% giving by cheque and just 7% by text.
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