Put people, not processes, at the heart of volunteering, charities urged

The Vision for Volunteering, drawn up by a partnership of five charities, sets out what the activity could look like by 2032

Volunteers at a food bank in Ashton under Lyne, Greater Manchester (Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
Volunteers at a food bank in Ashton under Lyne, Greater Manchester (Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

People, rather than processes, must be put at the heart of charities’ volunteering efforts if the activity is to continue to grow, according to a major collaboration. 

The Vision for Volunteering, which has been published today by a group of five charities, is designed to provoke a conversation about volunteering in the UK over the next 10 years. 

It is based on contributions from more than 300 organisations about what volunteering needs to look like by 2032. 

The exercise, which was led by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the local infrastructure body Navca, the Association of Volunteer Managers, Sport England and Volunteering Matters, has five key themes: awareness and appreciation; power; collaboration; experimentation; and equity and inclusion.

It says volunteering needs to embrace experimentation, actively encourage collaboration and ensure that it is more diverse and inclusive in order to enable the contribution made by volunteers to continue to grow. 

It calls for organisations to ensure that everyone is able to engage with their community and build the future they want to see, meaning power must be devolved to individuals and communities.

The vision calls for a future in which “volunteering is further ingrained in the collective psyche, is part of everyone’s life, and in which it’s always easy to find ways to make a difference”.

It says innovation must be “a natural, constant part of volunteering, not just a temporary bolt-on in times of crisis or Covid-19”. 

The vision argues that volunteers themselves, more than processes or outputs, must be at the heart of volunteering to make the most of peoples’ motivations and skills. 

It says that putting volunteers at the centre of volunteering does not mean ignoring or being less responsive to the needs of society, noting that the Covid-19 pandemic made it clear that individual motivations were strongly linked to those needs.

It says volunteering can be a driving force in creating a fairer society, but this requires power to be devolved from the state to communities and from organisations to individuals.

Ruth Leonard, chair of the Association of Volunteer Managers, said: “Today’s publication is deliberately not the delivery of a finalised action plan – this is the start of the next chapter in a conversation about what is needed to create a diverse, innovative, ambitious and person-centred future for volunteering. 

“I know that many are already working on the principles outlined in the vision or are keen to take them on board – whatever stage you are at, we hope that the vision and its insights can enable you and we’d love to hear your voice in this continuing dialogue.”

For further information and to get involved, click here

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