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Third of small charities can't cope with volunteer demand, survey finds

Third of small charities can't cope with volunteer demand, survey finds
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Third of small charities can't cope with volunteer demand, survey finds2

Fundraising | Jonathan Last | 6 Jun 2012

More than half of English and Welsh small to medium-sized charities have seen interest in volunteering rise, but nearly a third are unable to cope with the demand, a survey has revealed.

Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales, which surveyed 660 charities, has found that 56 per cent have seen interest in volunteering opportunities increase, with medium-sized charities with incomes of between £101,000 and £300,000 receiving the greatest level of interest.

However, 28 per cent said that they are unable to meet this demand due to limited resources and budgets. This is particularly the case for smaller charities.

Eighty-five per cent of those surveyed have also seen an increase in the need for their services, but just under half said they cannot cope with the demand due to the extra pressure on available resources.

Linda Kelly, chief executive of the Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales, said: “These results reflect the fact that volunteering is not ‘free’ and while volunteers may themselves be unpaid, they still require support, training and expenses so they can assist their organisations to the fullest extent. We recognise this, and through our community programme, invest in the development of volunteers in these organisations.”

Lack of government and private support

According to the survey, there is serious concern among charities (77 per cent) that there is a lack of adequate support from both central and local government. This survey follows the release of figures in April which show that government spending on volunteer centres dropped 12 per cent, year-on-year.

Two out of five charities in this income bracket also feel that the private sector isn’t providing appropriate support and over a third (36 per cent) feel that other statutory organisations are inadequately supporting charities at this difficult time.

Nearly nine out of ten (88 per cent) of the community-based charities surveyed said they need core funding to support core and organisational costs more than any other type of financial assistance at this difficult time. Despite this, 89 per cent found it significantly harder to secure support for this type of funding during 2011 and 91 per cent believe it will be even harder to secure core funds this year, with 60 per cent thinking core funds will be significantly harder to secure.

Chris Pryke
Community Advisory Worker
Nottingham CVS
7 Jun 2012

This certainly rings true in Nottingham.

The situation as it stands is like Children in Need running a telethon without a call centre.

There has been a huge increase in demand from service users and a similarly large increase in people offering to volunteer (our volunteer brokerage service saw 100% more people in 2011-12 than 2010-11). Unfortunately there is a huge lack of resource for volunteer co-ordination- without which all the help offered cannot get where it's needed.

It's obvious that the when help is offered there needs to be people who's job it is to harness and direct it to get the most benefit for those who need it.

More funding for volunteer managers is urgently needed. Give the sector £200million to get competent professionals into volunteer co-ordination roles and we'll work wonders in this country.

Hilary Barnard
Principal Consultant
HBMC
7 Jun 2012

It's the weakness of external support for volunteering, both financial and organisational, that is so disturbing in this important survey. More investment of time and money in supporting volunteering would make a major difference in helping small and medium sized charities close the capacity gap the survey reveals.

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