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.
The Children’s Society wanted to hear feedback from supporters and potential supporters about their current positioning, and explore alternatives. They wanted to tailor their positioning to reflect a new strategic direction and develop a consistent suite of messages that could be tailored for different audiences, whilst remaining true to their underlying values.
We conducted focus groups among supporters and non-supporters open to supporting The Children’s Society. We conducted research among supporters and non-supporters using focus groups, as we knew the group dynamic would most likely elicit brainstorming responses to multiple positionings and generate a winner. At the very least, elements from each could together be a winning combination.
The focus groups were a rich source of insight into both supporting children’s charities in general and the positionings for The Children’s Society in particular. We were able to give them guidance on which were the most and least powerful hooks in terms of messages and how to differentiate themselves from other charities in the sector. The Children’s Society also gained a clear idea of the mind-set of both its current and potential supporters. The project enabled them to select which messages to use and with whom and when in the supporter journey to use them, meaning they can now engage people more effectively.
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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