Our recommendations to the Conservatives' Green paper â€˜A stronger society: Voluntary Action in the 21st Century'
We are pleased to note the commitment to excluding any notion of compulsory volunteering and keeping the distinction between volunteering and other forms of community service.
We are also pleased to note the commitment towards moving to a culture of three-year rather than one-year grants, although we believe this should be a first step towards five-year grants in recognition that the practical implications of recruiting staff, setting projects up etc means even three year funding rarely provides an effective three year project.
1. Direct funding for volunteer management
Effective investment and support in volunteer management is of paramount importance in developing volunteering. The majority of volunteer managers say that on current resources they could not support more than another 10 volunteers in their work (Management matters: a national survey of volunteer management capacity, 2008).
AVM does not believe that Government should permanently fund volunteer management, rather that it is for organisations to recognise that volunteer management is an essential part of their core business and to prioritise accordingly.
However, many organisations do not have a culture of volunteer management and therefore the ability to recognise the importance of volunteer management.
We recommend that a future Conservative government establishes a volunteer management â€˜pump-priming' fund, whose aim is not just to develop volunteering in a particular geographical area, with a particular client group or an under-represented volunteer demographic but also to assess the impact of having a volunteer manager so that the organisation has the evidence to prioritise its funding in the future.
This fund would partly replace current funding programmes that target specific under-represented groups to volunteer.
A properly skilled and supported volunteer manager has the skill and knowledge to involve volunteers from under-represented groups. Simply targeting under-represented groups does not always meet the needs of clients and fragments the volunteering population rather than developing volunteering as a continuum through a person's life.