It’s Volunteers Week 2020. The in-person celebrations and thank you events have not taken place, of course, but many organisations have been thanking their volunteers in other ways. They simply wouldn’t be able to do what they do, make the difference they make, without the people who voluntarily give up their time and skills to make things happen.
Services would stop. People and animals would suffer. Injustice and inequality would continue.
Volunteering benefits the individuals who take part as well. They can make new friends, feel part of a team, develop new skills or add some structure to their week, to name but a few positives.
There are many things that make up a successful volunteering experience. I’m certainly not an expert, but here are a few areas to consider.
For an individual:
Communication plays a big part in answering a lot of these questions.
My volunteering experience
I myself choose to volunteer as a trustee of local organisations – I was previously on the Board of the literacy charity, ABC to Read, and am now a trustee at Citizens Advice Wokingham.
Trustees can sometimes feel like forgotten volunteers. In fact, it isn’t always understood that we are acting in a voluntary capacity. For the first 8 weeks of lockdown, I was the interim Chair of Trustees at Citizens Advice Wokingham and I was surprised how many of my friends assumed that it must be a paid position.
Both charities I have been involved with in this way are great at recognising the contribution of volunteers, both during Volunteers Week and on an ongoing basis. I was chuffed to receive a letter yesterday from our Chief Exec, thanking me for my contribution.
My top tips for volunteer communications
My blogs are usually written from the position of my years of experience as a communications specialist in the charity, not-for-profit and Higher Education sectors. But this week I am writing from my perspective as a volunteer, as an audience member.
Thinking about my communication needs as a volunteer, these are my top tips.
I would urge all organisations to think carefully about how you communicate with your volunteers, particularly as you negotiate the uncertain and difficult months and years ahead. Whatever the specifics of your ‘recovery’ plans, you will need to keep your volunteers engaged to continue doing the amazing work you do.
(And of course, many of these tips will apply to communication with your employees as well.)
If you are a volunteer, what are your top tips for organisations to think about when communicating with you?
Until next time