Call for unity on volunteering

Charities should present one message to the public, says Media Trust chief

Charities should consider drawing up a coordinated strategy to attract more volunteers, key volunteering figures have been told.

Caroline Diehl, chief executive of the Media Trust, which works to improve the relationship between the not-for-profit sector and the media, told a meeting of volunteering leaders in London this week that a more streamlined approach to communication could help groups to promote their work and recruit higher numbers of volunteers.

"Volunteering organisations are trying to do different things and give out different messages," said Diehl. "But perhaps they need to work out a unanimous strategy for communicating their work to the public and attracting more volunteers, instead of this potentially confusing, piecemeal approach."

Diehl's suggestions came during a voluntary sector ‘summit' meeting to discuss the future of volunteering organised by Volunteering England. Sixteen members of staff from sector bodies including the NCVO, Compact Voice, Navca and Acevo explored ways of improving practices within the sector, such as how to reward and support volunteers and how to make volunteering more accessible to marginalised groups of people.

Justin Davis Smith, chief executive of Volunteering England, said he was disappointed that, in his view, central government had failed to provide sufficient funding for volunteering. One of the recommendations from Baroness Neuberger's Commission on the Future of Volunteering was a £5m modernisation programme to kick-start community projects, but this had not yet been implemented, he said.

"We are at a crossroads where, on the one hand, volunteering has never enjoyed such a high profile, but on the other, it is suffering from funding cuts and marginalisation of the community sector," he said.

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