Saturday, July 2 2022

Key Messages from the NCVO Vision for Volunteering Submission

NCVO is currently working with NAVCA, the Association for Volunteer Managers, Volunteering Matters and Sport England to develop a Vision for Volunteering In England.

With the support of the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport, we will develop an ambitious strategic plan for volunteering over the next ten years. In this blog, we examine the key takeaways and messages from the NCVO’s submission to this work.

We foresee some fundamental challenges and changes for volunteering over the next decade, as well as opportunities to work together to bring about positive change.

The NCVO vision for change

Our vision for volunteering in England is of a future where volunteers can give their time to the causes and organizations that matter to them, in any way they choose. We know that volunteerism in all its forms is essential for a strong, inclusive and prosperous society.

Volunteers bring distinctive value to paid staff and create and drive change. We want to see more people volunteering, having a better experience and having a greater positive impact.

The next decade will likely see continued change for many aspects of volunteering, including who volunteers their time, how they volunteer, and what causes and organizations they engage with. Volunteers are increasingly looking for more flexibility, the use of digital platforms and technologies, and the opportunity to make positive changes in society. The volunteering ecosystem has huge opportunities to understand and adapt to these changes.

What must change?

Volunteer opportunities are currently not equally accessible. Many factors may have negatively affected the impact of volunteers or prevented them from volunteering altogether. One of the strategic goals of the NCVO is to reduce and eliminate these barriers to volunteering.

We know that the exclusion, discrimination and oppression that exists in society at large has an impact on volunteers and the experience they have. Experiences of poverty, racism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia, poor mental health and physical well-being can all limit our ability to devote time and energy to the causes we care about.

Community physical and social infrastructure can be a major barrier. We have high levels of local and regional inequality in England, and areas with fewer resources have fewer opportunities and capacity for volunteering.

Volunteers are increasingly looking for flexibility, with roles and activities that fit into their lives (see our Time well spent research series). There will always be a crucial place for formal and routine volunteer roles, but we also know that the voluntary sector must be able to understand the needs and interests of potential volunteers and adapt where necessary.

Volunteering doesn’t just happen within charities. People are interested in getting involved in their communities, in businesses, and in broader social causes. Many people are motivated to volunteer their time and energy to address systemic inequalities and create positive change through social action. We can do more to understand this and to create and sustain opportunities to spend time on the issues that matter to us.

Make change a reality

A wide range of stakeholders create the environment in which volunteering occurs, or the ‘volunteering ecosystem’. This ecosystem is complex and dynamic, and influenced by many factors. Volunteers, communities, voluntary organizations, infrastructure, policy makers, funders, public sector, private organizations and others all play a role. We want to see growing recognition of the vital role volunteering plays in society, as well as sufficient and proportionate funding for organizations and communities, and collaborative work progressing within and beyond the voluntary sector.

At NCVO, we recognize that we have a crucial role to play in supporting these changes. We continue to be committed to working to reduce and remove barriers to volunteering. We will work in partnership with others to collect data and evidence, create and deliver practical resources, and bring together networks of volunteers to build and share learning and experience. We will continue to work with government and other key decision-makers, using our evidence to advocate on behalf of charities and volunteers.

Volunteering in 2032

Together, these elements have the potential to bring about real and positive change for volunteering in England over the next ten years.

This will mean volunteering in 2032 will be easier, more accessible, inclusive and impactful. Volunteers will have a better experience and will be able to give their time more flexibly. Volunteer opportunities will be more balanced, enjoyable and meaningful. The public will be more aware of the value of volunteering, its benefits and how they can get involved.

How you can get involved in the vision of volunteering

On May 6, 2022, we will launch the Vision for Volunteering at Volunteer Expo Live in Birmingham. We will share ideas, feedback and learnings from the hundreds of volunteers and voluntary organizations that have been involved to date. This will be a step in our journey towards creating positive change for volunteers and define how volunteers and organizations can get involved in building the next phase of the Vision. Sign up to receive updates and more information about the Vision website for volunteering.


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