Volunteer Support Pot

Findings from an independent evaluation



The Volunteer Support Pot (VSP) was a fund of £625k to support Clyde-siders and Ceremonies’ volunteers at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The funding, provided by the Big Lottery and Spirit of 2012, was used to help volunteers resident in the UK who were facing hardship or exceptional costs associated with rurality, low income, caring responsibilities or disabilities. Volunteer Scotland was awarded the contract to manage and deliver this funding.


Why evaluate VSP?

This was a novel funding intervention and given the significant levels of funding committed, it was agreed that an independent evaluation of the VSP should be undertaken. The review was completed by the University of Strathclyde during the period Sept – Oct 2014, and managed by a Steering Group led by Volunteer Scotland.


Important Findings

  • Volunteer Scotland assessed 2,632 applications and allocated £555k to 2,177 individuals. It also provided free accommodation to 186 volunteers.
  • VSP funding was allocated on the basis of need as follows:

    • Low income - 66% of beneficiaries
    • Rural/remoteness -  30%
    • Caring responsibilities – 3%
    • Disability – 1%
  • Without this funding support 63% of recipients would have withdrawn from their volunteering role, or only performed part of it.

  • More than half (58%) of respondents felt that the VSP had a ‘significant’ or ‘major’ impact on their ability to volunteer.
  • In terms of legacy, 58% of respondents thought that their experience at the Games was likely to increase their commitment to volunteering.

  • The management of the application and support process was rated very highly:
    • 90% of applications found the application process ‘convenient or ‘very convenient’

    • 85% found the communication with the Volunteer Scotland team ‘effective’ or ‘very effective’

 At a wider level, VSP had a number of beneficial effects, including:

  • The impactofvolunteers supported by VSP – who helped to make a significant contribution to the Commonwealth Games.
  • The impactonvolunteers supported by VSP in areas such as meeting people, building confidence and learning skills.

  • The significant impact it hadonvolunteers who had other roles as carers or needed assistance through disabilities.


Lessons learned?  

  • The simplicity and lack of bureaucracy in the funding model was a key strength.
  • However, more transparent allocation criteria would have helped to manage expectations better.

  • The impact of award values of £50 or less was significantly weaker. This problem was most acute for Clyde-siders outside Scotland where the average value of award was lower, yet the costs to volunteer were higher due to distance travelled.
  • This problem stemmed from the limited VSP funds available to support the large number of volunteers from the rest of the UK. Although many benefitted from support and appreciated it, more effective targeting of resources to those in greatest need would have had greater individual impact.

  • In future, the VSP fund could be used not just to retain volunteers who had already applied to volunteer at the Games, but also to attract those put off applying due to the cost. Planning and promotion would need to be fully integrated into volunteer recruitment and selection to achieve greater inclusion.
  • The VSP funding model could have wider application to other events providing there is a clear rationale for the funding and it is targeted effectively at priority groups


What’s next?

This evaluation is one of a number of studies considering the experience and impact of volunteering during the Games that together will provide rich learning on how to support more inclusive volunteering.  The full report will be shared with Games Partners and is hosted on the Volunteer Scotland, the Big Lottery Fund, Spirit of 2012 and the Scottish Government Assessing Legacy websites.

The Assessing Legacy website provides a framework of knowledge and learning that will be particularly relevant to the Gold Coast and future Commonwealth Games, as well as being an invaluable resource for any future national and international events.  


Get in touch!

We would love to hear your views and any feedback on the VSP and its evaluation. Please do get in touch