Published 22nd September 2014
A national programme encouraging the highest standards of volunteer management is about to celebrate 10 years of helping charities and other organisations across the UK to enhance their reputations.
Investing in Volunteers (IiV) - the UK quality standard for good practice by groups involving volunteers - has been achieved by 765 organisations countrywide, including charities such as Christian Aid, Age UK and the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), as well as more than 20 NHS Trusts.
Getting together to celebrate 10 years of Investing in Volunteers.
From the left: Dr Justin Davis Smith (NCVO), Wendy Osborne (Volunteer Now), George Thomson (Volunteer Scotland), and Tim Day (WCVA).
Achieving it has a wide range of benefits, including demonstrating the organisation’s commitment to good practice, helping to attract and motivate volunteers and enhancing their experience.
And with increased competition for jobs, more employers regard volunteering as an important part of an applicant's CV, with IiV showing that volunteering experiences were gained within high quality, well managed volunteer programmes.
Among the first organisations accredited, in March 2005, was Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Volunteer Services Manager Sally Knights said:‘The IiV award has given us kudos and the trust recognises that we have some very professional people among our volunteers who are able to take on some very useful roles.’
The standard is owned by the UK Volunteering Forum and managed by National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in England, Volunteer Now in Northern Ireland, Volunteer Scotland and Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA).
An evaluation of the impact of Investing in Volunteers carried out last year by the Institute for Volunteering Research found that 95% of the groups that had achieved the standard saw it as having a positive impact on volunteering.
For some organisations, improving recruitment was a high motivator for achieving IIV. Others welcomed its support for the improvement of supervision and training.
The majority of respondents also saw achieving IiV as having a positive impact on the satisfaction of volunteers.
Comments included: ‘Since IiV, the profile of the volunteers has improved immensely - they are far more visible and their impact is far more obvious’, and: ‘the award evidences to external volunteer referring organisations how good our volunteer programme is.’
UK Volunteering Forum Chair Tim Day, said: 'As the four leading UK volunteering support organisations we have promoted and developed the UK quality standard for volunteer management, Investing in Volunteers.
‘Now celebrating its 10th birthday, IiV has been successful in providing a framework for involving volunteers that delivers key benefits: it demonstrates an organisation's commitment and good practice; increases volunteer's motivation, enhances their experience and encourages more people to volunteer.
‘Congratulations to the 765 organisations who have already achieved the Award.'
A series of videos has been produced for the IiV website, telling the stories of three organisations which have achieved Investing in Volunteers http://iiv.investinginvolunteers.org.uk/news/videos
Follow Investing in Volunteers on Twitter using #IiVUK and visit the website: www.investinginvolunteers.org.uk
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IiV case studies
England - Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
The Trust provides acute care and clinical services to a catchment area of around 822,000 people, with specialist services including radiotherapy, neonatology, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, rheumatology, paediatric medicine and surgery.
It has around 6,000 staff and 675 volunteers. Volunteers are based across the Trust and fulfil a variety of administrative and support roles in wards and climics, as well as more specialized roles such as helping to feed elderly patients, working with dementia patients and conducting patient surveys
The Trust first achieved Investing in Volunteers (IiV) in March 2005, having been invited by Volunteering England to be part of a pilot.
'We were delighted to be involved, as we felt that it was unique as the only standard to focus solely on volunteering,' said Volunteer Services Manager Sally Knights.
'There was nothing else like it, so it was a real opportunity to take part in something new and make people realise we offer a reputable service. We had actually looked at the Investors in People award, but didn’t feel it was tailored enough.
'We know we have lots of professional medical roles within the hospital, but it was about trying to give volunteering the same kudos really – and having a dedicated award was a good way of recognising volunteering and showing people what we can do.'
The Trust worked with 45 other voluntary groups on the accreditation and adopted a common standard for all volunteers.
'It’s around good governance and standards-setting really,' said Sally. 'It has certainly helped us where recruitment is concerned, as I think people naturally want to apply to a creditable and well-managed service.
'The fact that we can demonstrate this by saying we have achieved this accreditation has been amazing, as certainly the calibre of volunteer that we have coming through the system is completely different now to what it was, say, 10 years ago - so that has made a big difference.
'We owe a huge debt to our volunteers - they provide such a valuable service and we feel that maintaining the IiV standard demonstrates that we appreciate them and that we do invest in our volunteer programme.'
Sally said IiV had heightened the trust's profile and other hospitals had approached it as an example of best practice – it had worked with one in Norfolk to set up and create an identical service.
'I wouldn’t want to be without the logo now as when people see it on a letterhead, an email or on our brochures, they think this is an organisation that takes volunteering seriously - and we’ll apply to them because they clearly invest in their programme,' she added.
'We can now put volunteers in roles that are of far more use than the basic roles of the past, and the organisation itself appreciates that and looks at volunteering as a professional undertaking – with proper recruitment, a comprehensive policy and stringent governance guidelines.
I think the organisation feels happier and safer about involving people because of that.
'We are aware that more employers in universities are regarding volunteering as a very important part of students’ CVs, and I feel that they are looking for those volunteer experiences to come from professionally-run bodies.
'From the perspective of where employment is going in the future, demonstrating a good volunteer programme and having an accreditation for that is invaluable.'
Northern Ireland – Belfast Central Mission
One of Northern Ireland’s first IiV achievers was Belfast Central Mission (BCM) , which first gained the award in 2006.
BCM is one of the country's oldest charities, having been founded in 1889 as part of the Methodist Church's response to problems inherent in inner city life. Today, it is involved with all sectors of the community, irrespective of religious or political affiliation.
Its aim is to support people in need, helping them to reach their potential through social care projects, cross-community programmes and two church congregations, which meet for worship weekly.
BCM involves over 100 volunteers in a range of different activities: befriending, helping with adult holidays and tea dances, lunch clubs, appeals administration, street collections, Christmas food and toy appeals, parent and toddler groups and a youth club for children with autism.
'Volunteering has been at the very heart of BCM since it was first established 125 years ago, and we try to keep it a very informal and fun experience for volunteers,' said Community Services Manager Janet Sewell.
'Volunteers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the organisation, extending the skills base and enhancing the services.'
In involving volunteers in all stages of the Investing in Volunteers process, the standard had helped BCM to get the balance right by making the volunteer programme more ‘formalised’, for example, in terms of its processes, systems, reviews and risk assessments.
'But at the same time, it ensures that we keep volunteering as informal as possible,' Janet added. 'It was very daunting the first time when we started out on the process, but the renewal processes have been easier.
'By renewing now for the second time, it has reaffirmed that we are doing things right for our volunteers, keeping up with best practice in volunteer management and maintaining structures and systems that have been set up since we first went for accreditation.
'Investing in Volunteers is a worthwhile process for any organisation involving volunteers. It does let you see the gaps - and it’s made easier by the support and approachability of the team of assessors and advisers in Northern Ireland.'
Wales – NewLink Wales
NewLink Wales was the first Welsh organisation to be awarded the IiV standard, back in 2005. It has grown from strength to strength, with volunteering still at the heart of everything it does.
NewLink Wales trains volunteers to get involved in the work of local substance misuse agencies. It also provides training for staff and promotes access to services within local communities, building the capacity and effectiveness of substance misuse services across the country.
As well as getting a good understanding of substance misuse issues, volunteers often also gain a qualification through their learning.
'Volunteering can open doors of opportunity for people,' said Volunteer Operations Manager Daljit Kaur Morris. 'It allows people to take on new challenges and to meet new people. And for those who have received support in the past, in can be a chance to give something back.'
Ten years ago, just before NewLink Wales first achieved its IiV, it was starting the new MILE project for ex-service users who wanted to move from being a client to being a volunteer - the first of its kind.
A more recent venture is the NewSteps programme, which introduces opportunities for volunteering to current substance misusers while they are undergoing treatment.
'We wanted to gain the Investing in Volunteers accolade for our volunteering work,' said Daljit. 'We were very excited to be the first to achieve it in Wales. It really showed our commitment to volunteers and helped us with recruitment. I think it enhanced our credentials with funders too.
'When new staff are appointed, they can see the benchmark that we are committed to working to, and this helps us to deliver a consistent standard. It just becomes a part of how we work.'
NewLink Wales has renewed the award twice since 2005. 'By going through the renewal process every three years, we refresh ourselves - and we try to be the best!' Daljit added. 'We like to be a role model for other organisations – and we do have a large sphere of influence.
'We want to say a massive thank you to the Investing in Volunteers team – especially to our assessors. They have made the whole process easy and it is a pleasure to work with you all.'
Scotland - Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS)
Children’s Hospice Association, Scotland (CHAS) is the only charity providing hospice services in Scotland for babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions.
Volunteering Development Manager Karen Filsell said: 'Caring for a child with a life-shortening condition can place unimaginable demands on families, physically and emotionally. Quite simply, we are here to lighten their load.'
CHAS provides care to more than 350 families every year at its two hospices – Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch – and also through CHAS at Home, which has teams working from both hospices, as well as dedicated teams in Aberdeen and Inverness, caring for families in their own homes. It also provides bereavement support to additional families.
The charity has hundreds of volunteers spread throughout Scotland, who are involved in every area of its work: caring for children and families, raising money to pay for care and providing administrative support. The charity is also due to start a pilot project with CSV which will see volunteers providing practical home support to families, such as ironing or gardening.
CHAS became involved with IiV 10 years ago, coinciding with the opening of Robin House. 'We wanted to assess the quality of our volunteer service, to be sure that it not only met but surpassed the requirements for the only national volunteering standard,' said Karen.
'We undertook IiV for the benefit of volunteers and CHAS, to ensure that we always implemented best practice. CHAS recognised from the start that achieving the standard was only a start and that it would have to work continuously to keep standards high and retain the award.
'IiV gives us an extra perspective and has kept us on our toes. It helps us to lever change because someone from outside the organisation suggested it. For example, at our last renewal assessment in 2012, the assessor noticed that there were no pictures of volunteers in Rachel House – there are now!
'Maintaining the IiV standard helps to emphasise that we take volunteering seriously. We’re very proud of the fact that we have it. CHAS recognises IiV - we’ve bought into it. It’s a really good benchmark for us, a good test. It’s an award that’s keenly priced for an organisation like us. It asks sensible questions of us, testing the support we offer and what’s important to us.'