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Public thinks volunteers more worthy of honours than charity professionals

Public thinks volunteers more worthy of honours than charity professionals
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Public thinks volunteers more worthy of honours than charity professionals2

Fundraising | Jonathan Last | 23 May 2012

New research released by nfpSynergy claims that almost half the British public think that voluntary sector workers do not get the credit they deserve.

Between 23 March and 2 April, a nationwide pool of 1,000 people was asked questions related to the official honours system and the voluntary sector, and 48 per cent of participants answered the question,"Do people working in the voluntary sector (charities, community groups etc.) get their fair share of official honours?" with a negative response.

Breaking the responses down into sub-groups the highest proportion of those surveyed named unpaid volunteers as the most deserving (48 per cent), while just 7 per cent thought charity chief executives were deserving of official honours. 

MPs were seen as the least worthy with just 1 per cent of the vote, while nurses received 14 per cent. Participants were asked to consider people who had been active in their roles for more than ten years.

Joe Saxton of nfpSynergy commented: “Despite overt efforts by powers-that-be to change both reality and perception, this research shows that half the public still don’t think the official honours system sufficiently recognises those working in the voluntary sector – and that they think unpaid, oft unsung, heroes are more worthy recipients than either professional charity chiefs or wealthy philanthropists.”

R J Axford
23 May 2012

My parents between them have raised £000's for a variety of causes over the years, particularly Oxfam (Mother was an unpaid shop manager at one point), Christian Aid, and, since my father went blind, RNIB. They have devoted large chunks of their lives to 'good works'. Like my maternal grandfather (Charity work with the Masons) before him, Dad would have refused an official gong; instead I was delighted that last week "The Independent" printed my Other Lives obituary following Dad's death in April. That will have to do, along with kind words from those who knew him

Catherine Clark
Head of Communications, Marketing & Development
Royal School of Church Music
23 May 2012

This is exactly the reason that I am a development director, not a fund raiser, and why I try to get volunteers to do my fundraising where possible. I can never change the perception that I am the hired help because, guess what, I am -- even though I'm a donor and a legacy pledger, too!

Volunteers -- from trustees to committee members to charity shop workers to walkers and runners -- have only one motive, which is to support a cause about which they care deeply; our motivation is professional, often passionate, but still, we are earning a living from our work.

There's nothing wrong with that. But when I ask my trustees please to be trained in the art of the major gift ask, or my committee members to be prepared to pair up with each other or me or a salaried programme director in a gift solicitation, it is really a heartfelt plea for them to work in the best interests of our charity. They will always do better fundraising with staff support than staff will do without them.

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