Volunteering Technology and the Need to Transform the Third Sector
We are amidst the transformation into a technologically advanced society and economy.
In this article, we take a look at what place enhanced volunteering technology could have in the third sector and how updating systems can bring about organisation-wide improvements. We explore the challenges and solutions available to transform the third sector with cutting edge volunteering technology.
Current Challenges Facing the Third Sector
One challenge having a significant impact is reductions in Government funding. Austerity has caused massive budget cuts resulting in more constraints on resources than ever.
Many positions in the third sector are disappearing without replacement. We could argue that these will now be too difficult to replace later. Addressing this now is essential in protecting the current and future benefits of volunteering.
This financial pressure is causing the relationships between volunteer centres, charities and volunteers to break down. Communities work better when they drive volunteering forward together. These essential connections, however, are being lost, arguably never to return in their current format.
Austerity has increased dependence on third sector services. It’s easy to neglect investing in technology solutions to improve and enhance the whole experience.
Volunteers by definition provide their efforts without any expectation of monetary gains. However, they do require recruitment efforts, support and effective management that matches that of paid work.
“Volunteers cost money: they need to be trained, coordinated and supported, and that all requires resources.”
Investing in volunteering technology is essential for the future success of the third sector.
What Do 10,000 Volunteers Say?
The NVCO has recently completed a national survey on the Volunteer Experience, taking the views of over 10,000 volunteers across Britain. From this excellent report, we gain insights into volunteers experiences.
Identified current limitations are:
1. Slow Application Process
70% of volunteers are aged 18-24 and expect a similar service to that of applying for a job online. Currently, it falls way short of expectations making this a barrier to entry for volunteers.
2. Poorly Organised
Over a third of volunteers identified inefficient volunteer processes. However, they also commented that volunteering organisations could become too structured and become more bureaucratic.
3. Badly Managed
Evidence shows a direct connection between poor management and dissatisfied volunteers. Nearly 1 in 10 volunteers cited this as a reason not to continue volunteering.
4. Lack of Skills Matching
50% of volunteers identified a need for skills matched opportunities or roles of interest being important to them.
5. Lack of Appreciation
Showing recognition for a volunteer who has given up their free time is essential. Volunteers surveyed say they are less likely to continue with little to no appreciation for their efforts.
6. No Alignment for Career Development
Younger volunteers wish to use volunteering to enhance their skills, qualifications and experience to improve their CV. Currently, this is very difficult to align.
7. Publicise Volunteering Successes
There is a need for expanding awareness about volunteering successes and the results achieved. In turn, this will attract more volunteers and create a sustainable future for the third sector.
Combatting Challenges Through Volunteering Technology
Technological advancements are becoming increasingly instrumental in the way organisations operate in a new digital era. While private companies tend to lead the drive in the adoption of emerging technologies, the third sector must follow their example as this is critical to ensure they remain relevant.
Across all industries, we are now seeing the adoption of cutting edge tech like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Volunteering organisations need to use this innovative technology to their advantage.
Mashbo has written a great article on charities who must adopt tech or expect to fall. See that article here >
Although it’s evident that efficiency in the third sector is needed now more than ever, investment in volunteering technology can be challenging to justify with tight budgets.
“As the figures for digital volunteering grow, our sector needs to think hard about how it can be done best.”
– Peter Kellner – Chair NCVO. See the full article here >
Volunteering technology is now available and focused explicitly on easing the burden of shrinking internal resources.
Volunteer Space is one such example. They are well placed to bring about improvements to many of the issues identified above.
Volunteer Space was initially commissioned by local councils to create technology that could ease the administrative burdens piling up for the industry.
Since then they have been working closely with public, private and third sector organisations to create a volunteering technology solution.
Volunteer Space provides the tools needed to support and guide volunteers through the entire volunteer journey. All through an easy to use online platform that addresses the concerns of younger volunteers but also advocates that of established volunteers. Improving and speeding up applications by organising and digitally managing the process ensures that Volunteer Managers can focus on new opportunities.
Organisations who post opportunities on Volunteer Space benefit from being able to manage the entire application process, schedule shifts, training, inductions and interviews, gain powerful insights into volunteering activity and provide recognition for volunteer effort and personal development.
The platform is designed to replace time-consuming admin with an intuitive interface that focusses on delivering a quality volunteering experience.
The platform brings together the needs of volunteer recruitment and management for voluntary organisations, brokerage for volunteer centres and soon will be enabling businesses to maximise the impact they have through employee supported volunteering.
Volunteering is now a route to employment with many seeing the benefits of skills sharing and learning through volunteering. Volunteering technology such as Volunteer Space can match existing and required skills to opportunities, so a volunteer is not only giving but now also receiving. Volunteering has now become a two-way street.
Adoption of new technologies has proven to be slow in the third sector. Innovations in volunteering technology are paving the way for the third sector to move into a new digital era.
With easier charitable advertising, recruitment, communication, skill listings, a tracking of jobs and a recognition chart for volunteers, the total volunteering experience is revolutionised. Volunteer Space was created to ease the burden of staff, volunteers, charities and councils, so they can get back to what they do best, Changing lives.
The third sector needs to revolutionise its practices and deliver a digital experience that the new tech-savvy generation expect. After all, they are the future of volunteering.