Sector 'has enough' volunteers

The Government's focus on increasing the number of volunteers is unhelpful because many charities already have as many as they need, according to a report from the Institute of Volunteering Research.

Slogan: Year of the Volunteer aimed to recruit new volunteers in 2005
Slogan: Year of the Volunteer aimed to recruit new volunteers in 2005

Its Management Matters report is based on a survey that asked 1,382 volunteer managers about their work. The results, published today at Volunteering England's annual convention, show that 27 per cent of volunteer managers would not take on more volunteers even if they were given more funding.

Nearly 60 per cent said they could manage fewer than 10 volunteers on their current resources.

Mike Locke, assistant director of Volunteering England, said the report showed that many organisations already had as many volunteers as they could cope with, so government and charities should focus on the quality of volunteering opportunities, rather than on the number of volunteers.

"There is a general policy from government to increase the number of volunteers," he said. "But the report shows that we should be cautious about assuming organisations can just go on taking more.

"It's not a case of groups getting more money and then being able to take more people on; it's about how many volunteers they have the resources to manage."

Locke said larger organisations were willing to take on more volunteers, but not in vast numbers.

"Managers are obviously thinking about what they do with volunteers and about the quality of the work they can achieve," he said.

Some volunteer managers needed other kinds of support before taking on more volunteers, he added.

Other key findings

- Nearly half of the volunteer managers who responded earned between £15,000 and £25,000 a year, although more than a third had more than 10 years of experience

- More than half said recruitment and retention of volunteers was a concern and could hold their organisations back

- Half had not received any formal training in managing volunteers; a third claimed not to need it

- Most volunteer managers were positive about their work: 89 per cent thought they were doing a good job

- More than a quarter of organisations did not have funding for supporting volunteers

- A total of 77 per cent had a written policy for volunteers.

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