It’s Volunteers Week (#VolunteersWeek), the annual seven-day celebration to thank all precious volunteers and inspire people to continue to volunteer with the organisations they already know, but also to seek new opportunities. If you already volunteer or are considering volunteering in the future, this article is for you!

People volunteer mainly because they wish to make a difference. They wish to help other people. They think the cause is important to support and/or the organisation they support has a special place in their heart.

NCVO, the largest national umbrella body of the voluntary sector, has just published a meritorious report on all aspects of why, when, how and where the people in the UK volunteer and how charities can improve their volunteering experience.

At whatCharity, we are very focused on the impact of charities and wish to make sure each and every penny, volunteering minute, or goods and service donation delivers as big an impact it possibly can. Therefore, we asked charities some volunteering related questions via a nationwide survey (our Big Volunteering Survey 2019) and wish to give the feedback of that survey to all individual and company volunteers. As we say, “doing good shouldn’t be complicated”, and we believe it isn’t when charities and the public understand each other’s needs and wants better.

“Without volunteers organisations both big and small would be unable to reach out to so many so often. Volunteering is good for the heart and soul.”

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About the survey

Our Big Volunteering Survey 2019 was distributed nationwide and we received around 200 amazing responses from charities across the country.

Where do charities find volunteers and how can you help?

The most important way for charities to get new volunteers is peer to peer recommendation and word of mouth communication. As 94% of charities rely on this method, existing volunteers can do a lot to help a charity just by spreading the word.

35% of charities stated that they do not have the right channels or budget to communicate about volunteering opportunities. On whatCharity.com, we offer each donor, volunteer, and beneficiary the chance to give testimonials and rate the charity. This is exactly what #VolunteersWeek also encourages people to do – share their story!

At whatCharity, we also allow volunteers to write blogs to our site that we also share in social media. See an example of one of our amazing Donor Stories here. If you wish to tell yours and help your favourite charity to gain awareness, please let us know by contacting us here: shona@whatcharity.com.

Only 7.5% of charities have long-term company partnerships when it comes to volunteering. We think it would be great if this percentage was much higher!

The NCVO study just revealed that at least 25% of people say their employers have a volunteering programme, so if your company supports volunteering it would be a big help for a charity to match your company with their opportunities. We offer an easy way to search for volunteering opportunities on a map on our renewed site. Just click ‘volunteering speed button’ and you can find opportunities within a 25-mile radius of your home and office. 

“Business volunteers bring our work-related learning programmes to life so they are an integral part of our delivery model” charity comment from whatCharity Big Volunteering Survey 2019

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Volume of Volunteers

40% of charities in the survey say that their volunteer volumes have increased and a further 40% stated that it has stayed the same. This means they have been able to give a good volunteering experience, which consists of many factors e.g. volunteers feeling appreciated and informed about the charity and the difference they are helping to make.

This statistic is a positive signal for the future of charities and society. Charities cannot operate without precious volunteers (keep up the good work everyone!) and we wish to share a couple of quotes from charities who took part in our survey:

“Government cuts are hitting hard and to function, we need volunteers to help”

“We are very fortunate to have some very committed and hard working volunteers who have been with us for quite a few years. Trying to get new ones is becoming more difficult”

Type of volunteers

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There are a few things which are worth mentioning when we cross-reference our survey results (from a charity perspective) to the NCVO ones (from a volunteer perspective).

  • Over 20% of volunteers think the process of becoming a volunteer should be quicker and there is too much bureaucracy
  • 35% think things should be organised better when it comes to volunteering.
  • Over 40% of our surveyed charities stated that training is very much needed, which of course slows the process, but also means a long term commitment is expected. Therefore, it is important that charities clearly communicate what tasks and positions are able to be done on a one-off or ad-hoc basis and which ones are more long term. As a volunteer, it is important to be clear about your expectations before committing and sign up to responsibilities which you are comfortable with.

“We have a lot of one-off opportunities coming through, however, due to the safeguarding of our young people, we can’t take on volunteers without training and a DBS check etc” – charity comment from the whatCharity Big Volunteering Survey 2019

When it comes to longer-term commitments, there are gaps between the needs of charities and wants of volunteers.

20% of volunteers say they have taken on a trustee commitment, participated in a committee or other leading position. However, our survey states that over 50% of charities are looking for trustees and professional skills and 1 in every six charities would like to get strategic help or mentoring for their staff.

As a volunteer, this kind of positions might seem time-consuming, almost professional commitments, but there are many personal benefits to putting the time in, not to mention the huge impact you can make with your input! For example, Deloitte has recently done several studies about the benefits of volunteerism which indicate volunteering builds leadership skills and results in being favoured during the recruitment processes. We believe thinking of some personal benefits when volunteering is not at all bad when you do so by respecting the task at hand and genuinely put yourself to it.

“Volunteering isn’t just about giving your time for someone or something else – you will walk away a more fulfilled person too, with a stronger sense of community and identity.”– respondent in whatCharity Big Volunteering Survey 2019

“We often don’t have the resources to train and attend to volunteers as often as we’d like. It’s also hard to find skilled volunteers for trustees” – respondent in whatCharity Big Volunteering Survey 2019

“We need specialist skills – Motorcycle mechanics, Archery Coaching.” – respondent in whatCharity Big Volunteering Survey 2019

“We need volunteer counsellors, befriended, administrative staff!” – respondent in whatCharity Big Volunteering Survey 2019

It is totally ok to seek for charities to volunteer with who, for example, offer certificates or diplomas or other beneficial proof of your input. Many charities wish to cater to your needs and make volunteering as attractive as possible.

“We understand that volunteering contributes greatly to the charity and we rely on volunteers. We also understand that it is not a one-way street. We work to ensure there is a benefit to the volunteers also.” – respondent in whatCharity Big Volunteering Survey 2019

Messages of gratitude from charities to the public

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We had tens and tens of lovely comments and messages of gratitude from charities in our survey about their volunteers. Keep up the good work and, if you aren’t currently volunteering or are looking for a new opportunity, search for charities suitable for you on whatCharity.com.

“Help support our small local charity, by volunteering some time, so we can continue to do some fantastic work in your local community.” – respondent in whatCharity Big Volunteering Survey 2019

“Volunteers are not paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.  There are so many opportunities for fun, friendship, helping and developing girls and young women – the rewards of volunteering are immeasurable.” – respondent in whatCharity Big Volunteering Survey 2019

“We are passionate about empowering young people and inspiring them to volunteer. If you are too, you would be welcome to work with us.” – respondent in whatCharity Big Volunteering Survey 2019

“Everyone has potential it just takes one person to inspire and make the difference. Could that be you?” –respondent in whatCharity Big Volunteering Survey 2019

A massive thank you to every charity who took the time to take part in our Big Volunteering Survey 2019! One lucky charity won £200 for staff or volunteer recreation for taking part. Click here to see who won…

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