Joined-up volunteer finder services are the way forward

I was encouraged to read in Third Sector recently that the Small Charities Coalition (SCC) has integrated its trustee recruitment service with Do-It. This means people searching for volunteering opportunities will have instant access to the SCC service via the Do-It interface.

This is a really welcome development for a number of reasons.

First, its a great early sign of the open partnership approach that Ivo are bringing to their ownership of Do-It. Its not that YouthNet didnt do this – they did – but as Ivo move Do-It forward a renewed focus on collaboration and connections with others is important if the Do-it platform is to grow and modernise.

Second, its an encouraging step by volunteer finder services to join up. In recent years we appear to have had more and more websites created to help people find volunteering opportunities. This has, in part, been driven by the government, Nesta and others equating innovation in volunteering almost exclusively with online services. The result is that we have so many web based volunteering platforms that its probably harder than ever for people to find good volunteering opportunities.

Do-Its tie up with SCC illustrates a sensible way forward. Instead of yet another website being created (perhaps the 21st centurys most obvious equivalent of wheel re-invention) the future will hopefully bring more integration of existing services for potential volunteers. Having one site would be to swing too far the other way (digital eggs in virtual baskets come to mind), but giving the user seamless access to opportunities across a variety of platforms is sensible.

Finally, the SCC and Do-It link up speaks clearly to a fact so often overlooked in the sector: trustees are volunteers. Despite the best efforts of some to get more trustees to be paid, the reality is that the principle of voluntary trusteeship remains enshrined in charitable law and practice.  This fact is repeatedly ignored or forgotten when it comes to is trustees.

Ive long held that some of the board issues organisations want to solve – diversity, effectiveness, challenges finding people to join the board etc – could be solved with the application of good volunteer management. After all, they are the same issues volunteer managers deal with day in, day out. But Chief Executives dont turn to their VMs  for help – they go to governance consultants instead. Yet the problems dont ever seem to get solved. Interesting.

By linking the trustee finder service with Do-It, Ivo and SCC are helping to illustrate that a solution to the challenges of engaging trustees can lie in adopting the practice of volunteer leadership and management. Instead of resorting to crude and flawed thinking – such as payment to source competent people – organisations can and should turn to their existing volunteering experts for help. Its not necessarily a magic bullet, but it is an option to be explored more often.

So well done Ivo and SCC. I hope this development will help change things for the better and that more will come in future.

One Response to “Joined-up volunteer finder services are the way forward”

  1. Linz Darlington

    This is an interesting development of the Do-It platform, and it will be interesting to see whether SCC see an incremental increase in trustee recruitment as a result.

    Having a one-stop-shop certainly should make the search easier, but actually could just add to the noise: if those wanting more ‘hands-on’ volunteering opportunities are not interested in trustee listings, and those interested in trustee listings are not interested in other opportunities.

    Your likening of new websites to wheel re-invention is not entirely unfair. However, just as wheels come in lots of different shapes and sizes for different purposes: surely the same is needed with volunteering solutions?

    When conceiving a new solution (digital or otherwise) the first thing is to identify what ‘need’ is not currently being addressed by existing offerings.

    The second is what facets of the new solution will effectively address this – I think the problem with many digital solutions is that they don’t address what actions are needed in the ‘offline’ world to ensure they are effective at addressing the need for the ‘online’ user.


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