Volunteering opportunties that take place through an employer are less likely to provide satisfaction than if they had been arranged by the volunteer themselves, according to a new report by NCVO.
The umbrella body found that just 39 per cent of people who volunteer through Employer-Supported Volunteering (ESV) are satisfied with their experiences, compared to 56 per cent of those who organise their own volunteering.
The findings come as part of the organisation’s Time Well Spent research, a report into the voluntary sector. The body surveyed 10,000 people as part of this wider research, of which some 1,000 were involved in ESV.
The report also found that 51 per cent of those in ESV said that their experience could be better organised, compared to 33 per cent of those not involved. It said that 42 per cent of employer-supported volunteers thought there was too much bureaucracy in the process, compared to 22 per cent of those who organised their own volunteering.
Explaining the reasons behind these differences, the report said that employer-supported volunteers may be unprepared for volunteering or have too high expectations. It also highlighted a lack of awareness of volunteering opportunities, as well as low encouragement from employers for volunteers to get involved. It also mentioned competing work pressures, and a blurring of lines between work and volunteering as affecting volunteers’ enjoyment.
The report also found that there were tensions between volunteering motivations of volunteers, organisations using volunteers, and employers supplying volunteers. 36 per cent of volunteers do so to make a difference, whereas employers reported using volunteering to receive funding and to improve their reputation, while 48 per cent of organisations took volunteer due to a need to.
The report also said that sometimes an employer and voluntary organisation wanted different things, like quantity of volunteers and preferred different time commitments.
The report said: “All volunteering-involving organisations should be considering how they can give workplace volunteers a more positive experience.”
The report said that to improve experiences, volunteering needs to be made as easy and flexible as possible, for example by offering remote experiences. It said experiences should cater to a broader skill set, and adapt to make experiences more tailored to individuals. It also said that there needs to be more support to smaller organisations to start employer-supported volunteer programmes, as the majority of programmes are run by larger organisations.
Karl Wilding, director of public policy and volunteering at NCVO, said: “A new generation of volunteers want to make a difference to the causes that they believe in, in their own time and in work time. Volunteering supported by employers is worth getting right, but that isn’t always what’s happening.
“The message from our research is clear: employer-supported volunteering needs to start with why people want to volunteer, involve each of the different groups to work together in making the experience of getting involved a good one, and remember the reasons we are all doing this at the end of the day: to make a difference to the causes we all care about”.
The report was published as part of Volunteers' Week. It was made in partnership with the Corporate Volunteering Network (CVN).