Volunteering wisdom

If you want to know why people volunteer, what keeps them volunteering and how we can get more people into volunteering you really need to ask some experts – which is exactly what we did at our celebrating volunteers event during National Volunteers’ Week (check out the web page for more info) – we were lucky enough to fill the brasserie at John Lewis & Partners in Cambridge with volunteers and people who work with them – after all there is no such thing as a free lunch!   

Our ‘experts’ were drawn from a random sample of local volunteer groups, so feedback is entirely subjective but at the same time closely reflects national research and trends as seen in the NCVO research.  The key reasons our volunteers started volunteering were: 

  • To make a difference, feel useful and help others 
  • Meet new and different people and engage in their community 
  • Use existing skills 
  • As a way of giving back because they or those they cared for had been helped.

When we look to recruit volunteers, we need to convey these messages.  For some ideas to get you started check out the CCVS Pinterest board and maybe sign up for our next workshop on recruiting & retaining volunteers.

When we asked the volunteers Why do you keep volunteering? they told us it was about: 

  • The other people they volunteer with and for, who make it worthwhile and enjoyable 
  • Being able to see they help others and make a difference 
  • Being able to use skills 

Our random sample highlighted the fact that if organisations what to attract and retain volunteers they need to understand what motivates people to volunteer.  Organisations also need to be aware that motivation changes as people develop in their volunteering roles.  To keep people turning up to volunteer they need to feel valued and gain satisfaction from their role.   

There is no one size fits all and we need to be flexible.  For some volunteers. time credits will make the difference for others it might be regular thanks and taking the trouble to keep them up to speed on what is happening with clients they have helped.    

While they were on a roll, we went on to ask our ‘experts’ the million-dollar question How do we get more people into volunteering?  

  • Highlight the difference volunteers make and tell their stories.  The enthusiasm of existing volunteers is infectious (CCVS will be running a story telling workshop early 2020 to help you tell your stories) 
  • Make it easier for people to volunteer reduce barriers, increase flexibility 
  • Show you value your volunteers.  
  • Improve promotion, use more channels to reach more people and convey strong appealing messages (CCVS have a range of free training on using social media) 

CCVS has a programme of training and support for those managing volunteers free to our members and supported by funding from Cambridge City Council. 

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