NCVO Evolve 2013 conference 'a missed opportunity' on volunteering

Volunteer manager Sue Jones blogs that the conference is treating volunteering as an add-on, when a major dialogue on the issue is needed

Volunteer managers might stay away from a forthcoming conference run by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations because they feel it does not place enough emphasis on volunteering.

The NCVO and Volunteering England merged on 1 January. Martyn Lewis, chair of the NCVO, said at the time that that the combined organisation would be "a stronger voice than ever for volunteering and the voluntary sector".

But in a blog posted on the volunteering website IVO yesterday, Sue Jones, a volunteer manager, said that the workshops due to take place at the NCVO’s forthcoming Evolve 2013 ‘super conference’ in June failed to live up to expectations because there was little on the theme of volunteering.

"Granted, there is a volunteering theme and it’s good to see a debate and research presented on micro-volunteering," she wrote. But Jones added that "there's still an air of it being an 'add-on'".

Jones said she felt the conference represented a missed opportunity for a "much-needed, high-level dialogue" about volunteering after the merger of Volunteering England into the NCVO in January. She also noted the absence of volunteer managers in the list of speakers for the conference.

Several people in the sector posted comments on Jones’s blog agreeing with her assessment. Rob Jackson, a volunteering consultant, described the blog as a "great post". Another, called ‘addammh’ wrote: "I would love to go to the NCVO conference as I think would many other volunteer managers… but that decision is currently out of my hands as the conference isn’t currently relevant to me or my role."

Another comment, from Anne Layzell, said she feared that Volunteering England's role had been weakened as a result of the merger with the NCVO.

But a comment from Sarah Porter, event manager at the NCVO, said: "Volunteering now forms an important part of what we do and we are integrating it throughout all our work – and volunteer management will be a theme in several of the workshops."

She said that the conference was aimed at a broad range of charity professionals, including finance directors, fundraising managers and volunteer managers, and that the programme for the event was decided after discussions with other sector umbrella bodies.

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