What is volunteering, and how can you get #VolunteerReady?

February 12, 2024

This month, we are helping people get #VolunteerReady, recognising the importance of retaining volunteers, making a positive lasting impact on local communities. In this blog post, Emily, Communications Officer at NAVCA, takes us back to basics by exploring what volunteering is and the motivations behind it.

At NAVCA, we talk a lot about volunteering, why we think it's great, and how we can encourage and nurture volunteering opportunities. But, what actually is volunteering? It can mean different things to different people, but volunteering broadly means contributing your time to a cause you care about, whether this is formal (volunteering through an organisation such as a charity), or informal (in your community, driven at a grassroots level). Volunteering means choosing to contribute your time and skills to benefit others, and it should also be a positive experience for the volunteer.

There can be many motivations behind volunteering, and this looks different for every volunteer. Beck, NAVCA's Resources Officer, volunteers at a local Sheffield charity. She told us why she volunteers:

''I volunteer as it’s an opportunity to do something I enjoy and meet new people. As an English conversation group leader, I see learners confidence grow as their spoken English improves and I am learning a lot about the different cultures and religions of the learners, which is very rewarding.''

By volunteering, people can learn something new, support the communities they are part of, and build meaningful relationships. There are many different things you can do as a volunteer, this is why our #VolunteerReady campaign encourages people to think about their skills, and what contribution they can make to a local cause. Through this process, individuals can recognise their own potential and what they could bring to a charity or community group.

At our 2023 annual conference, we held a workshop on volunteering, where volunteer managers and similar roles shared their concerns about volunteer burnout, difficulty in retaining volunteers, barriers to volunteering and more. As explored in NCVO's recent report, Time Well Spent, some data suggests that certain aspects of volunteering are seeing a decline, and that volunteer participation has not recovered from the impacts of the pandemic. This is why we want to make sure that volunteers are valued for their skills and experience, and are volunteering for a cause they care about. The #VolunteerReady campaign aims to help people think about these aspects of volunteering, so that they can find a suitable, long-term volunteer role.

At the moment, NAVCA members are taking part in the #VolunteerReady campaign, which aims to recruit volunteers for the long term. At the end of the campaign, people are encouraged to volunteer for the first time. Follow the hashtag #VolunteerReady on social media to see our members' posts.