Since setting up Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd in 2011 I have been writing and speaking about the need for senior managers to take volunteering seriously as a strategic priority. Despite six years of effort it seems little has changed.

Think Tank New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) have recently published a new study, “Charities Taking Charge”. They surveyed 300 charity leaders, of whom only 51% thought volunteering was very important to achieving their mission, lagging behind donors, paid staff and trustees (WHO ARE VOLUNTEERS!). 16% thought volunteering was either slightly important (10%) or not important at all (6%).

Furthermore, when asked to identify “the most important thing to help the charity sector increase its impact in society”, only 4% chose “engaging users, stakeholders and volunteers”. By contrast, 31% chose funding and 23% public profile.

What it is going to take for those at the top of non-profits to pay proper attention to the strategic role of volunteering in delivering organisational missions? When will the focus on money as the only resource at their disposal change, opening minds to the full range and wealth of community resources available to change the world for the better?

Susan Ellis has been tilting at these same windmills since the 1970s. That’s why she wrote From The Top Down in the 1980s and why we adapted the book for the UK in 2015.

I’ve only been at it six years and I am not going to give up.

Now, where’s the nearest brick wall?

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2 thoughts on “Tilting at windmills again

  1. I’m frustrated as well. But I blame managers of volunteers themselves for much of this: they don’t ask (demand!) to update the board about the impact of volunteers, for the public relations manager to talk about what volunteers are doing and achieving in press pitches or social media, for space in the annual report beyond a paragraph saying “we couldn’t do this without volunteers”, etc. Our conferences have workshops on recruiting volunteers – but nothing on how to advocate in the community about the value of volunteerism BEYOND a monetary value for every hour, or how to talk about the impact politics has on our being able to engage volunteers. As long as we stay tepid in advocating for ourselves, support for what’s needed to successfully engage volunteers will remain tepid.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder how many of those managers checked the box yes that donors were important?

    Truly this is an advocacy cause that all of us can get behind!

    Liked by 1 person

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