Inspiring Volunteer Tourism Participation 

Volunteering has an incredible impact for both the volunteer and the community being served. It might be hard to measure in numbers, but Morven Maclean takes a unique approach at assessing this and lays out tools for both volunteer tourism organizations and volunteering groups at large. Take a look at this article for helpful tips on increasing volunteer participation and securing funding.

Volunteering has a crucial impact – so prove it!

Volunteering participation in Scotland has remained largely static over the last ten years, with just 28% of adults volunteering in 2017. If we' re serious about driving participation rates and inspiring new audiences to volunteer, we need to start shouting about the incredible impact that volunteering can have, on volunteers, on our organisations and on wider society. In order to do this, we need evidence.

As volunteering professionals, we often lament that we' re not listened to, our departments are not invested in and that volunteering is undervalued by our organisations. But what are we doing about it?

volunteer tourism
Are we demonstrating to our senior leadership teams how volunteering helps achieve our organisations' strategic objectives? Surely that would grab their attention and put volunteering on the map? As volunteer programme managers, we should spend less time on day-to-day transactional work and more time evidencing the impact that volunteers make. Until we do that, we won' t achieve the profile and investment that volunteering deserves.

Volunteering is crucial, not only to organisations but to achieving the outcomes of a better Scotland.

We need to get better at sharing the positive impact that we know volunteering has on our organisations. We need to showcase to senior leaders, volunteers, stakeholders and the wider world that volunteering is crucial, not only to volunteer-involving organisations but to achieving the outcomes of a better Scotland. It makes sense and is worth investing in. In order to achieve that and to get the attention of senior leadership and funders, we need to gather and share evidence of impact.

Last year the Scottish Volunteering Forum established a volunteering impact measurement sub-group in order to raise the profile of impact measurement amongst volunteer-involving organisations. The group created and distributed a questionnaire amongst volunteer-involving organisations across Scotland. The results of the questionnaire were revealing and demonstrate that a lot more needs to be done to evidence the impact of volunteering.

Responding to feedback from the questionnaires, the Forum has developed a new guide which helps volunteer-involving organisations to start, or improve their impact measurement practices. We' re launching the guide this week, along with a brand new guide for funders which has also been developed by the forum.

Unfortunately, we often find that volunteering is not afforded the value or recognition that it deserves. Despite all of the significant benefits detailed in our new guide for funders, we find that volunteering activity is routinely left out of the strategic planning stage by funders, funding recipients and policy makers, which often means that it is under-resourced and under-measured. The guide for funders demonstrates the significant benefits that volunteering provides and explains why volunteering is a sound investment. It also highlights the importance of adequate and realistic planning, budgeting and measurement to ensure that volunteering activity is successful.

It' s vital that volunteer-involving organisations develop ways to measure the impact of their volunteering programmes on volunteers and beneficiaries, in order to improve performance and demonstrate the value of volunteering both internally and externally. We need to understand what' s working and what' s not; and to act upon any lessons learned so as to drive the quality of volunteering in Scotland.

The more we demonstrate the impact of volunteering on organisational performance, Government policy and wider societal/community impacts, the easier it will be to secure funding for volunteering. The more we demonstrate the impact that volunteering has on volunteers, the more likely it will be that current volunteers continue to volunteer regularly and that non-volunteers start volunteering.

So this International Volunteer Manager' s Day – on Monday 5th November – make impact measurement your pledge. Check out our new guides and start measuring the impact of volunteering. You never know, the evidence you gather could be transformational for your volunteering programme, your organisation and for wider society.

Morven MacLean is volunteering development manager at Children’s Hospices Across Scotland

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