A new volunteering strategy for Scotland


Paul Okroj believes a new strategy for volunteering can ensure people continue to give their time and effort for the next 10 years

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2nd December 2014 by TFN Guest 1 Comment

I recently took part in the NFPsynergy’s research project: New Alchemy, how volunteering turns donations of time and talent into human gold, which is a great read.

However, it is just one of many blogs, articles, updates and reports on volunteering at the moment and they are all saying the same thing – volunteering is changing. We are seeing the rise of the episodic volunteer, the rise of the selfish volunteer (I like to think I penned this phrase myself five years ago), the rise of the brain-driven versus the time-driven volunteer and so on! All of this means there’s a dramatic change to the role of the volunteer manager as while some principles stay the same, new ways of volunteering had new challenges for manger.

Paul Okroj

Paul Okroj

There is no cohesive approach to addressing the big picture of volunteering in Scotland

I believe that the time is right to refresh the volunteering strategy for Scotland – well not exactly refresh, as it’s been so long since the last one was in place (it ran out in 2009). The last strategy no longer reflects volunteering in Scotland, so now we need a completely different approach to a volunteering strategy, embracing the new breed of volunteers and the commodification of volunteer management.

The third sector relies on many volunteers – a fact that is now rightly recognised in many government directives and policy developments. However, there is no cohesive approach to addressing the big picture of volunteering in Scotland.

Collectively we need to identify how we can tackle the barriers to volunteering many people face and I don’t mean the traditional barriers like time and accessibility. Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland relies on 2,000 formal and informal volunteers with over 69 volunteer roles and we have embraced virtual volunteering, ivolunteering, micro volunteering and portfolio volunteering. We have developed new training delivery mechanisms and made full use of ICT to communicate and this only goes some way in reaching underrepresented groups.

The most worrying statistics for me as a volunteer development manager are that the number of people volunteering remains static while the changing societal demographics in Scotland, which is seeing the population getting older, means that more people may depend on this pool.

So, we need to ask ourselves, in the next 10 years who will be the future volunteers? Where will we recruit them from and how do we match their changing motivation? We need to undertake a cohesive approach to volunteering in Scotland and take ownership for supporting the future of volunteering with input from relevant influencing organisations and individuals.

We are always reminding everyone that volunteers make a difference and recognise that volunteers contribute greatly to our communities, so is it not time to develop national recognition of volunteering in Scotland?

Paul J Okroj is volunteer development manager at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland

15th August 2015 by John Carkit

As a volunteer for over 30 years, i've done lots of different roles. but as i get older i find doing virtual volunteering or editing websites for different organisations, rethinking and making volunteering sound good again is the way forward... "I like to help people and I do this through volunteering"