Volunteer management is gaining momentum
St Mungo's: The big society has put volunteering in the spotlight and increased pressure for more resources
Last summer, the Institute for Volunteering Research revealed that 42 per cent of volunteer managers had received no formal training. But with volunteering firmly on the government agenda, charities are under increasing pressure to meet high expectations, not least from volunteers themselves, and many are starting to think about investing in development for volunteer managers.
"There is a real need for volunteer management to become more professionalised because of the political climate," says Amy New, head of volunteer management at Volunteering England. "The ideas around the National Citizen Service and the big society are really driving this forward.
"There is also a growing recognition from organisations themselves of the need for professionalism in volunteer management. Organisations are starting to recognise the need for good practice and proper resources for volunteer managers."
In 2009, the Office for Civil Society made £3m of funding available through the infrastructure quango Capacitybuilders to support people who manage volunteers.
Supporting local projects
The volunteer management programme consisted of three strands: a £1.45m grant fund to support local projects; a £200,000 awareness-raising campaign to change perceptions of the importance of volunteer management, delivered by Volunteering England; and a £1m bursary scheme to fund training and skills development for volunteer managers.
As part of the second strand, Volunteering England created the volunteer management portal - a website bringing together information, training and development opportunities for people who manage volunteers. Under the third strand, 1,300 volunteer managers were awarded bursaries last year to undertake training such as NVQs.
Volunteer managers have various training options. Informal schemes, usually consisting of training events and talks provided by councils for voluntary service and volunteer centres, exist locally. Those seeking more formal qualifications can study NVQs in volunteer management at a number of institutions. St Mary's University College in Twickenham, south-west London, for example, runs an NVQ Level 3 course in the management of volunteers.
Higher up the scale, the Institute of Leadership and Management offers a series of volunteer management qualifications starting at NVQ Level 3 and going up to Level 5. The training body Skills - Third Sector also offers Levels 3 to 5 qualifications and is developing apprenticeships for volunteer managers.