So much potential but not enough time!

14 April 2016

About 1.5 years ago, a fellow Commonwealth Games opening ceremony cast member and I were passing the time whilst our 498 other fellow cast members were going through wardrobe. 

This led us to talking about other volunteering that we have been involved in and it turned out that my cast mate is on the Board of Directors of Glasgow Women’s Aid (GWA) and they were looking for more board members.  I said I felt that boards never need people who have volunteer management experience, such as myself, but always want HR or financial input.  They were quick to correct me that Glasgow Women’s Aid were looking for people with my skills. 

From bored to board member!

I started on the Board in February last year and having taken some time to get to know the organisation I recently turned my attention to volunteer development.  The current organisational strategy identifies volunteering as a key area for development and a previous board member has written also a high level volunteer strategy.  However, since these were written in 2014 the involvement of volunteers has continued on a fairly ad hoc basis.  At a staff development day late last year I ran a session on volunteering and staff were positive about the potential benefits of involving volunteers and had lots of great ideas about what would make a good volunteering experience for a volunteer at GWA. 

In my previous role as a volunteer manager I’ve been fortunate enough to work in organisations who can dedicate staff time and funds to volunteering.  In my current role at Volunteer Scotland we work predominately with staff who have volunteer development and management within their job descriptions.  Of course, we also work with volunteers from entirely volunteer run organisations who want to develop volunteering that access our resources and attend our training.  What I have found challenging when considering how to develop and deliver volunteering at Glasgow Women’s Aid is that there is no one with any available time to dedicate to volunteering. 

Considering our options

So, in consultation with staff, I have been working on an options paper that outlines how we might be able to develop and deliver volunteering at Glasgow Women’s Aid.  Whilst developing volunteering these options range from forming a working group, involving a volunteer in a volunteer development role and seeking additional funding in order to secure increased staff capacity.  I’m aware that the more we can involve people in the process of developing volunteering the more likely it is to result in something that everyone is signed up to - but no one really has the time!

In terms of delivery we are considering whether we could have one point of contact for all enquiries and provision of a general organisational induction before volunteers move on to sites for a role specific induction and then support from project staff.  Or we might have to spread the response to enquiries, and subsequent induction, out across the whole organisation depending on roles within projects.  I’m aware these will require robust procedures and confident project staff to ensure a consistently positive experience for new volunteers. 

The crux of the matter

To me, the crux of it is that GWA can see the potential benefits of involving volunteers but there is no staff time available to make it happen.  I would love to hear from people who have also experience of this and have found creative ways of overcoming it. 

Not only would I love to hear your input, so would all the board and staff at Glasgow Women’s Aid!  Please add your comments in the space below and you can also participate via Twitter using the hashtag #ttvolmgrs.

Questions:

  • Do you have experience of making volunteering happen when there is no staff time?
  • How have you developed volunteering with no staff time?
  • How do you deliver volunteering with no staff time?

 

This piece was originally submitted as a guest blog as part of Thoughtful Thursday by Zoe MacGregor,Learning and Practice Development Officer, to ivo.org

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