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Impact volunteering

Giving for a purpose to have a positive impact sums up impact volunteering.

It’s about what you give and how you give it. Initiatives involve volunteer’s time, passion and skills in the service of others.

By using people’s generosity and time to teach children to read (as an example), the impact will advance children in their reading, making sure volunteers are using the best methods. Usually there are strategies built around the idea that voluntary effort should be targeted at a measurable impact.

The key to impact volunteering is in knowing what impact you’re trying to achieve and focusing relentlessly on that goal. Just because people give their time for free doesn’t mean it can be wasted.

Public service volunteering: NHS, Police, local councils

At Kings College Hospital, the Kings Volunteer started with the simple idea of asking staff what more they would like to do to help patients but couldn’t because they didn’t have the time. That generated a list of simple, humane acts of kindness, from welcoming and guiding people around the building, to running errands, talking to patients and holding their hands while they wait for surgery.

The hospital turned those into volunteer role descriptions and asked local people to help out. They responded in their thousands and the hospital now routinely deploys over 700 volunteers from diverse backgrounds who have all committed to regular volunteering over a year.

Kings is already seeing an increase in patient satisfaction and the next stage is to track the effect on discharge, recovery and wellbeing. It showed such a positive impact on those metrics and codify how it is achieved, that is was a model offered to other hospitals and adapt it for other public services.

The role of volunteers in campaigning shouldn’t be underestimated as a way of making the case for services and creating the space and urgency for those in power others to take action – look at mental health and the Time to Change movement, or the Engage for Success employee engagement movement.

Corporate volunteering using professional skills

Within corporate organisations, while some volunteers report that they get a significant amount out of the experience themselves, some companies are now demonstrating their employee’s volunteering contribution in terms of skills and knowledge transfer at the beneficiary outcome level.  For example, rather have staff painting schools or planting trees, organisations want them to tackle volunteer projects where they can use their professional skills. And potential volunteers often want that too.

Does the organisation that you work for encourage you take part in skills-based volunteering?