Volunteering must grow to allow us to achieve our ambitions

Chas volunteers at robin house web

CHAS volunteers at Robin House

Morven MacLean, volunteering development manager for CHAS, looks at ways the charity has got new people involved

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29th May 2018 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

‘Show us the impact we’re making and allow our voices to be heard’ – my mandate is clear, as directed by CHAS’s more than 800 volunteers.

For the past three years I’ve been in the privileged position of leading CHAS’s volunteering programme. Through focus groups and online surveys, I’ve invited volunteers to share what matters to them in their volunteering, what makes them feel valued and what we can do better.

Volunteers told us that they feel valued when they can see the impact they are making on children and families, when their voices are heard and when they have opportunities to get involved in decision-making. Last year they told us they wanted more frequent, consistent and relevant communications, in a digital format. As a result, we have transformed our volunteer communications through the introduction of Workplace by Facebook, an online forum that has streamlined our volunteer communications and driven engagement. Workplace enables us to post daily updates from the hospices, connecting volunteers all over Scotland with the impact they are making on children with a life-shortening condition. It also allows volunteers to meet one another and access news about CHAS via an app, at a time that suits them.

We have redesigned our role descriptions, placing impact at the heart. Every volunteer role description clearly states the connection it has with children and families and we take the time to let volunteers know the impact their contribution is making.

Morven MacLean

Morven MacLean

In 2017, we unveiled our new strategic plan, fundraising ambition and organisational values. Volunteers were at the heart of this process, attending focus groups and contributing their views to shape the new ambition, strategy and values.

It’s my job to develop CHAS’s volunteering programme in a way that meets volunteers’ needs and expectations. Volunteers currently outnumber employees three to one, but in order to achieve our ambition of reaching every family in Scotland that needs us, volunteering must grow. My focus is therefore not just on our current volunteer force but on the needs and expectations of the emerging, modern volunteer. Evolving in line with the changing landscape of volunteering in Scotland is vital to the sustainability of CHAS’s service delivery and income generation. I dedicate time in my role to horizon scanning, reading research and identifying the trends in society that are impacting on volunteering so that I can ensure CHAS is future-proofed and at the forefront of volunteering innovation.

We have developed new ways for people to get involved, focusing on flexible, home-based roles in order to attract busy people who might not otherwise consider volunteering. We often involve volunteers in multiple roles, and within the volunteering team, volunteers are involved in our working groups, bringing new skills and perspectives. This has greatly enhanced our work, whilst ensuring that volunteers remain at the heart of all our volunteering developments. Most recently, a volunteer with IT skills donated over 100 hours of coding time to develop a bot to interact with volunteers on Workplace. This has been invaluable to us and we are always looking for new ways to involve highly skilled volunteers.

We are proud to have a strong volunteering culture at CHAS, with the chief executive and senior leadership setting the tone by involving volunteers, not just on the board, but in policy work and property negotiations.

Listening to our volunteers, connecting them with the impact they’re making and modernising our communications have driven volunteer engagement and enabled us to achieve Investing in Volunteers for a record fifth time in Scotland.

Morven MacLean is volunteering development manager for CHAS. The organisation was recently re-awarded the Investing in Volunteers accreditation .