More than two-thirds of volunteer managers believe they need a more powerful representative body, says a new report from the research consultancy nfpSynergy.
The paper, the sixth in a seven-part series, says that 69 per cent of people surveyed agreed that a more powerful representative body was needed.
Twenty-eight per cent of those surveyed said they felt that representative bodies were very poor or not very good at driving innovation, and a quarter felt the same about their championing of volunteering.
Slightly less than a quarter of respondents – 24 per cent – said they were unhappy with the platforms provided for sharing best practice, although 60 per cent thought they were good or excellent.
The paper says volunteer managers were much happier with the representation of volunteering to government, with 69 per cent of the opinion that it was good or excellent and only 7 per cent unhappy.
The report was based on in-depth interviews and an online survey, conducted in May, of 513 predominantly female volunteer managers from a mix of sectors and organisation sizes.
"The existing infrastructure is not sufficient in its current form to provide decisive leadership in volunteering; either its championing within the sector and in the face of challenges, or in its knowledge and best-practice sharing functions," says the report.
It also notes a relative absence of clear sector leadership on volunteer policy and says that existing innovation and support tends to come from outside traditional forums and focuses on networking and knowledge-sharing resources, such as VM Movement, a project that connects volunteer managers.
"A need for more professional qualifications and accreditation – for both managers and volunteers themselves – as well as a more central infrastructure body in line with the role played by the Institute of Fundraising, felt pressing," the report says.
Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy, said: "The picture emerging from our survey is very mixed, although volunteer managers do love their work.
"The irony is that many people will recite the fact that they’re in the voluntary sector, yet the ones who actually deal with volunteers are feeling inadequately supported. It seems there is lots to be done on championing volunteering within the sector and sharing knowledge and best practice."