By Yvonne Wilcox, Event Co-ordinator for the CIPR Not-for-Profit Group
Many not-for-profit organisations would not survive without the help and experience of volunteers.
What is a volunteer?
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NVCO) defines volunteering as:
“Volunteering as any activity that involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit the environment or someone (individuals or groups) other than, or, or in addition to, close relatives. Central to this definition is the fact that volunteering must be a choice freely made by each individual. This can include formal activity undertaken through public, private and voluntary organisations as well as informal community participations and social action. Everyone has the right to volunteer and volunteering can have significant benefits for individuals.”
Types of volunteering – formal and informal
Formal is where it’s more structured, being a committee member, trustee or school governor
Informal is being a good neighbour, picking up a friend’s kids from school or an elderly neighbours’ prescription.
Who are volunteers?
Anyone can volunteer but according to the UK Civil Society Almanac 2020 of Data, Trends and Insights report:
- Women are more likely to volunteer than men
- 65 -74 year-olds are most likely to volunteer on a regular basis
- More people in rural areas volunteer
- One in five people in regular employment volunteer
- Higher socio-economic groups who live in less deprived areas more likely to volunteer
Read more here: https://data.ncvo.org.uk/volunteering/demographics/
Why should you volunteer?
People decide to volunteer for numerous reasons, from personal career advancement and using their professional skills to help others, to meeting new people or making connections in their local community or just wanting to make a difference to other people’s lives by helping.
Anecdotally, people frequently say how much they personally get from volunteering, which is often an unexpected benefit.
Where do I volunteer?
Investigate something you have an interest in, or look at opportunities local to you. There are lots of organisations who are looking for extra help be it ad hoc, an hour a week/month or something more regular – there is something out there for everyone. A good starting point would be your local Council for Voluntary Service or you could visit the Do It website (https://doit.life/grow ) which lists a range of volunteering opportunities across the country.
There are often volunteering opportunities within the CIPR. Volunteering with one of the sector, regional or national CIPR committees can be fun (along with the hard work) but you do get to log 20 CPD points. Committee volunteering is also great for networking with other members, not just via the committee, but also at the many events that are organised.
I’m the Events Co-ordinator for the Not-for-Profit Committee. I joined after a period where there was little activity in this area of the CIPR. I thought rather than do nothing I would become involved. It’s a vibrant committee who are active within the not-for-profit sector, with committee members covering everything from charity to education to the public sector.
Some of the committee members who started out as colleagues I would like to now think of as friends who have given me all kinds of support.
Speaking about the role of volunteers, CIPR President, Mandy Pearse, said:
"The CIPR exists for our members but it couldn't survive without our volunteers. Volunteers are at the heart of the CIPR and the hundreds that give their time, energy, and commitment every year make what we do possible. That was never more visible than last year when, during the pandemic, our volunteers quickly and compassionately created content, organised events, and brought people together when otherwise we would have been alone.
Volunteering with the CIPR over the years has given me a huge amount. I have learned from incredible professionals, spoken on behalf of the profession, widened my knowledge and interests, and been given access to a support network I can call on. Most significantly it has allowed me to give something back and support others to be confident and successful in their careers. That is what the CIPR can offer and why we should be proud to be part of this amazing community."