New Research Published – Demand for Volunteers
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) commissioned the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) to undertake a qualitative study into what drives demand for volunteers across England.
The research examined two key questions:
- What drives demand for volunteers, and how does this vary over a typical calendar year?
- How have restrictions under COVID-19 affected these drivers?
The research focussed on formal volunteering, where individuals had given unpaid help to a group, club or organisation. The study consisted of interviews with voluntary sector stakeholders and focus groups with volunteers from different sectors. The aim was to gather evidence to better understand trends in volunteering, to support both ongoing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and DCMS’ future volunteering policy.
The research found that demand for volunteers was driven by three key factors:
- Individual support needs – organisations reported needing volunteers to meet the
needs of various population groups. This included meeting welfare needs for those
who were financially struggling (e.g. food banks); social support needs for those
that were socially disconnected (e.g. befriending services), particularly during the
pandemic; and the transport needs of those who could not access important
services (e.g. community transport activities).
- Wider community needs – this was where organisations required volunteers to
support the delivery of public services and amenities. This included contributing to
local health service provision (e.g. helping in hospitals), culture and recreation
industries (e.g. tourism) and helping with environmental conservation (e.g.
maintaining outdoor spaces).
- Organisational views of the value of volunteers – organisations recognised the
potential for volunteers to enrich service delivery because they were independent of
statutory services and they brought their lived experience of an issue. In addition,
demand for volunteers was high where volunteering was important to an
organisations’ service delivery ethos or where it enabled them to fulfil a statutory
requirement, such as the provision of Independent Visitors.
The findings also consider supply of volunteers and the impact of the pandemic. You can find out more in the full report below (includes an executive summary).
Find out more here: Volunteering Research Findings
Volunteer Passports Study
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) commissioned Research Works Ltd. to undertake research into volunteer passports. The aim of the research was:
- To understand the progress that has been made to date in developing volunteer passport initiatives, both in the UK and internationally, and;
- To identify the perceived demand, opportunities and challenges for volunteer passport initiatives from volunteers and the voluntary sector.
The research included a review of relevant literature and qualitative research with volunteers, volunteer-involving organisations, digital platform providers and voluntary sector stakeholders, who either had experience in developing passports or were interested in exploring their potential.
Volunteer passport and passporting initiatives shared two broad aims: to improve
‘volunteer portability’ understood as easy movement of volunteers across different VIOs and roles; and validate and value volunteers’ experience, skills and contribution.
The research with volunteers, VIOs and stakeholders highlighted what they perceived as key areas of demand for volunteer passports and passporting to support volunteering. Specifically:
- Portable ID and DBS checks were welcomed as a core element of a potential volunteer passport to reduce duplication in volunteer recruitment and onboarding;
- Having a shared pool of volunteers was perceived as important for particular types of
volunteering: emergency, event-based, micro, place-based, task-based volunteering;
- Standardisation of volunteer training and skills was of interest to some in two areas:
standardisation of entry-level volunteer skills and sector-specific standards for specialist skills;
- Validation of volunteers’ experience and skills was perceived as beneficial for particular groups of volunteers, where volunteering was also a potential route to employment.
The success factors identified within the research are very helpful to any organisations interested in working together to achieve the benefits of volunteer passporting.
Find out more here: Volunteer Passports