Investing in Volunteers is the UK quality standard for good practice in volunteer management. In England it is now coordinated by NCVO, although it was originally developed by a group of volunteering organisations in south London.
The standard looks at practice in nine main areas. The standard can be used by organisations as a framework for self assessment of practice even if you do not want to apply for the award, as the standard is available from the Investing in Volunteers website.
Themes include commitment to volunteering, resources, promotion of volunteering opportunities, equality and diversity, developing roles, managing risk, recruitment, induction, training and support, involving volunteers in decision making and appreciating volunteers. Many of these areas will be familiar to organisations already, although some may be new or give the organisation a new perspective. For example frequent issues that organisations might consider as part of Investing in Volunteering include:
- Stating organisations values around volunteering, or why organisations involve volunteers – people can sometimes find it surprisingly difficult to articulate the reasons why they involve volunteers. Typical reasons might be to be able to expand services, to bring a wider range of skills and experience into the organisation, to increase diversity, to challenge the organisation’s thinking or to bring a different perspective to service users, who may respond better to someone who is not being paid to work with them. Other organisations involve current or previous service users as volunteers as part of their progression to increase skills or confidence.
- Dealing with performance issues in volunteers – when to intervene and how to put systems in place to catch issues early.
- Equality and diversity – why this is important and how to attract diverse volunteers.
- How to provide appropriate support to volunteers – for example does an “open door” approach mean that all volunteers seek out support or is there a need for more structured support mechanisms?
- Involving volunteers in influencing decisions – can you identify things in your organisation that have changed as a result of volunteer involvement and feedback.
- Volunteer recognition and appreciation – different volunteers might appreciate different things depending on their motivation for volunteering, so asking volunteers what they want is good. Recognition should come from all parts of the organisation, particularly the board and senior managers, and not just from the volunteer coordinator.
Good practice guidance is available from the NCVO’s Knowhow Nonprofit
Becky Nixon of Ideas to Impact is an Investing in Volunteers assessor and has extensive experience of good practice in volunteering organisations.