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It seems as though the recession hasn’t dimmed our enthusiasm for volunteering, at least if the latest statistics from the UK Government are anything to go by. 74% of us volunteered at least once in the year 2013/14 and 75% gave money to charity. The only slight cloud on the horizon was the fact that whilst these statistics held up well against previous years, the percentage of formal volunteers fell by 3% to 41%.
But with so many people willing to give their time or expertise in helping with charitable or community projects the challenge is now on for such organisations to make the most of the volunteers’ talents. Far too often volunteers are seen as adjuncts to employed personnel, rather than as an intrinsic part of the organisational mix. When volunteers wash in and out again in a quick space of time, when they fail to turn up as expected, when they talk to each other rather than to visitors or when there is a distinct ‘them and us’ feeling with the rest of the team then something is wrong with the engagement.
Taking time out to draw in the volunteers and to fully engage them in the aims and values of the organisation can make a huge difference to the effect which the charity has on society. From maximising gift aid and donations to increasing the scope for fundraising activities or actively furthering the aims of the organisation, volunteers who are fully engaged can make a huge difference. All it takes is a little time and care to treat volunteers as valuable team members and the rewards will flow.