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The Volunteer Revolution – Volunteer Makers

Volunteer Makers Training ProgrammeToday we are launching Volunteer Makers (VM) pilot training programme.  This is a training and technology programme for arts, heritage and charities that is a rethinking of how organisations are working with volunteers.

It is driven by the principles of the digital revolution, but taking this virtual engagement into the reality of real-world working together.

From January to March we are running a pilot programme, giving free support and training to a limited number of organisations to create or build on their volunteer engagement and work with the Volunteer Makers online platform.

This is part of a Volunteer Makers pilot project to inform demand for the platform before a national roll-out from July 2016. Our results will be shared with the sector.

Our first three workshops this week are with Frome Museum, Royal College of Music and Corinium Museum.

As a new model of volunteer engagement, Volunteer Makers is presenting the value of volunteering in perhaps a different way, which is making some organisations shift their thinking about how they work. It is based on research and development work we have carried out during the past 4 years.

It is necessary to think this way because of significant challenges for organisations with their future sustainability threatened due to funding cuts, while we also have significant changes in demographics – simply that the pool of people who volunteer have changed. Both factors are having a huge impact on organisations in arts, culture and heritage. No longer can there be a one-size-fits-all model of working with volunteers, instead organisations have to understand who is volunteering and how they want to get involved and how this will work best for their organisation.

The VM training programme follows a three-year digital engagement programme working with 40 museums which we ran for the South West Museum Development Partnership. Many of the tools we are using were developed during this programme.

Volunteer Makers App is the technology behind Museum Makers and was developed for Luton Culture as a standalone web platform nearly four years ago. The results were phenomenal, driving volunteer numbers up from 50 to over 1000 for one museum in Luton. 50 businesses also became Volunteer Makers providing valuable support to this museum. It has transformed the museum into a Peoples Museum and provided sustainability.

We are currently developing a cloud-based version to allow wider accessibility to the VM system for all organisations. Along with the technology, we are rolling-out bespoke support and training, which we are using during our pilot programme.

Volunteer Makers is making organisations think about their own needs and then consider the potential of volunteers from specific demographic profiles. Two examples of important volunteer profiles are Young People and Baby Boomers. Baby Boomers are a significant demographic for arts, heritage and charities and need to be understood, here is why:

• Over 50s hold 80% of the nation’s wealth
• Increased giving by Boomers forecast to eventually double annual charitable bequests
• Boomers and Matures are the single largest consumer group and spend more than £5bn a year online (US)
• Nearly 33% do voluntary work (and its growing)
• Potential monetary value of over 50s’ voluntary work in UK is more than £5bn
Volunteer Makers is particularly useful for engaging Babyboomers as it is designed to let them take control and ownership of their volunteering while supporting the organisations overall strategy.

This rethinking of working with volunteers does present exciting opportunities. The Volunteer Makers vision is to galvanize communities of volunteers to make a real difference by getting them involved with organisations in ways that helps long-term sustainability of organisations, but maximise a volunteers’ potential.

Our work with our partners during the pilot Volunteer Makers programme will include:

- Analysis of the organisation’s current volunteer engagement
- A telephone interview with key staff
- A workshop with teams involved in volunteer engagement
- Provide a volunteer digital engagement annotated template
- Review Volunteer Digital Engagement Plan – after 6 to 9 months of implementation
Volunteer Makers enables organisations to maximise the potential of existing volunteer community and build on that. It does this by empowering volunteers to help drive an organisation’s vision. It increases the scope of what volunteers can do, whilst engaging them in a way that suits them. This increases the diversity and range of your supporter-base through greater access to volunteer opportunities, while widening the opportunity for participation – allowing you to target specific skillsets and demographics.

For further information please visit VolunteerMakers.org.