Amy Senior at Whizz-Kidz talks us through the structural benefits of the IiV accreditation on her organisation, including organisation-wide buy in for volunteering, a permanent volunteer journey steering group and ongoing support from their IiV advisor.
What have been the overall benefits of achieving the IiV accreditation?
Planning for, and achieving, the IiV accreditation gave us the opportunity to really look at our volunteering offer, from recruitment to training, policies to recognition, through a variety of lenses. As part of the IiV journey we were able to ensure that every single step of our volunteer journey was as good as it could be, taking in to account feedback from our advisor, our volunteers and various staff from across the organisation.
Gaining external accreditation for volunteering at Whizz-Kidz secured buy in for volunteering across the whole charity: we were able to use the IiV accreditation as a way to raise the profile of volunteering with the CEO and the Board, which was a really positive thing for us.
How would you describe the effects of IiV on your organisation?
Since receiving the IiV accreditation we can be safe in the knowledge that our volunteering offer is robust, and as a team we are now more open to receiving feedback from staff and volunteers on how to make improvements. Having a structured framework to go through, step by step, was imperative in ensuring all bases were covered. Without that framework and the assessment at the end, some things might not have been a priority: I can imagine that if we had tried to do all this within our own timeframes we may have taken much longer to complete them.
Volunteering has remained very much on the agenda across the whole organisation, with teams having an increased knowledge on how volunteers support them, and in return how they can manage those volunteers. It has also been great to be able to ask for ongoing advice from our IiV advisor, which we are still doing now almost a year after gaining accreditation.
In your opinion, what is the relevance of IiV for your sector?
Whilst volunteering is often happening within charities, with volunteers doing really positive work to impact on the charity, it isn’t always something that gains buy in from staff outside of those who work directly with volunteers on a daily basis. Starting the journey towards IiV accreditation, bringing in staff from across the organisation to work towards this common goal, is a brilliant way to really ensure volunteering is at the forefront of people’s minds.
Gaining IiV accreditation also enables charities to ensure that their volunteer management is full of best practice, ensuring that each person who applies to volunteer – whether they end up volunteering or not – has a positive experience from start to finish. It also helps to take away the risk of volunteers being treated unfairly, being taken for granted or having a negative experience.
Do you have any advice for other organisations on how to work towards and get the most out of the IiV award?
Don’t rush it! We spent the best part of a year preparing for our assessment, which gave us plenty of time to go through everything with a fine-tooth comb without needing to work to difficult deadlines.
Also, involve others: don’t keep it within your team. We made sure the whole organisation was involved with the process, whether that was through sharing quotes from our volunteers about why they volunteer with us, or running a volunteering quiz along with a prize. We also had a steering group where we brought in staff from various teams as well as volunteers themselves to ensure we had a really well-rounded wealth of opinions and experiences.
Why did you decide to renew your IiV accreditation?
When we last gained IiV accreditation, the staff team at Whizz-Kidz looked very different. We wanted to have the structured framework to go through each stage of volunteering with Whizz-Kidz to check that we were still offering a positive experience to our volunteers.
Any other comments?
We have retained a quarterly IiV steering group with both staff and volunteers to ensure that we are able to continually reflect on our volunteer journey and how it can be improved.