Take time to celebrate your volunteers

2 Jun 2019 Sandra Bailie    Last updated: 4 Jul 2019

volunteers week 1-7 June 2019

In this Volunteers’ Week 2019 we want to recognise, celebrate and thank all of the volunteers in Northern Ireland.

In Northern Ireland there are about 241,264 people who volunteer formally for organisations in the voluntary and community sector, according to the latest research. Of these 53,787 people volunteer their time and expertise to be part of boards and committees. Volunteers take on many vital roles from trustees and campaigners to carers and fundraisers, and this is a great time to think about the fantastic contribution all your volunteers make.

NICVA and Volunteer Now have developed and deliver a two-day ILM level 3 Award in Management of Volunteer. This is a great way to invest in your volunteer managers and benchmark against best practice. The next course is on 17 and 24 October 2019.

Volunteer Now has some great resources and advice for volunteering organisations. You can get more advice and guidance for boards on The DIY Committee Guide, as well as all the NICVA resources.

Benefits to volunteers

Volunteering is a great way to do something for others and research shows that it benefits people of all ages through increasing feelings of self-esteem, respect, motivation and wellbeing. The "Doing good does you good" report by the Mental Health Organisation has shown considerable benefits of volunteering.

Health benefits

  • Helping others feels good
  • Brings sense of belonging and reducing isolation
  • Helps to keep things in perspective
  • Reduces stress
  • Helps get rid of negative feelings

What motivates volunteers

People volunteer for a variety of reasons - commitment to the cause of the organisation and wanting to be more involved in my community were named as the top two reasons. As volunteers they are involved in a wide range of roles - the top four are: helping in a church or religious organisation, fundraising, working with young people and helping to run a community event. (State of the Sector)

When running our motivating and managing volunteers training day as part of our ILM level 3 Award in management of volunteers co-delivered with Volunteer Now we ask what motivates you and your volunteers to get involved. Here's some of the responses:

  • give something back to an organisation that has impacted on my life, either directly or indirectly
  • make a difference to the lives of others
  • help the environment
  • help others less fortunate or without a voice
  • feel valued and part of a team
  • gain confidence and self-esteem
  • chance to try something new
  • gain new skills, knowledge and experience
  • enhance CV
  • improve employment prospects
  • use professional skills and knowledge to benefit others
  • meet new people and making new friends
  • a chance to socialise
  • be active in local community

Managing and supporting volunteers

A key role within our sector is that of volunteer managers, those that recruit, train, support and motivate the volunteers. It’s good to know that the large majority of volunteers (85%) felt that their efforts were recognised/appreciated by their organisation. (State of the Sector).This is so important as it helps to retain volunteers. In terms of best practice, some things to consider:

  • Clear Volunteering Policy
  • Role descriptions for volunteers
  • Accessible and inclusive recruitment processes
  • Intentional induction process
  • Relevant training and development
  • Volunteer expenses reimbursed
  • Feedback on performance
  • Clear communication channels
  • Recognition and celebration
  • Skilled and supportive volunteer managers



sandra.bailie@nicva.org's picture
by Sandra Bailie

Head of Organisational Development

[email protected]

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