Headlines: April 24th, 2008

Failure to value the work of those who manage volunteers and low levels of funding to support volunteers are undermining the quality of the services they provide. A national survey of volunteer management capacity by Volunteering England found a chronic need to invest more financial and human resources and to change the ‘cost free’ culture.

The survey found that over a quarter of managers of volunteers said they would not want more volunteers even if they were given additional funds. Nearly half of respondents earn between 15 – 25,000 pounds per year, despite over a third having over 10 years’ experience in the profession.

Recruitment and retention of volunteers was identified as a concern, with over half believing it would hold back their organisation over the next three years. Only one half had received any formal training in managing volunteers but a third claimed not to need it.

Large organisations, including NHS trusts, were most likely to have budgets for volunteer involvement and dedicated staff time to support volunteers. Their volunteer managers were also more likely to be in a full-time post, be better trained and have fewer recruitment and retention issues than those in smaller organisations.

The inclusion of a volunteering indicator in Local Area Agreements targets is raising the profile of volunteering and leading to more productive partnerships. In areas where the local volunteering infrastructure has organised itself into cohesive networks, there is often a clear process for working with Local Authorities and Local Strategic Partnerships for delivery or coordination of activities needed to achieve targets.