This blogpost is written by my colleague, Dr Eddy Hogg
This week is the 30th annual National Volunteers Week, a week of celebrations across the United Kingdom of the contributions that volunteering makes to individuals and communities. In a recent blog, the volunteering guru Justin Davis Smith, notes some remarkable consistency over the last 30 years – around 40% of adults volunteer each and every year – yet the level of support offered to volunteers has increased significantly.
The voluntary sector – a disparate collection of organisations that take their shared identity from the fact of having voluntary input – has professionalised enormously over this period, with a wide range of professions now calling the sector home. Volunteer management is a big part of this, with the Association of Volunteer Managers stating that some 300,000 UK LinkedIn members list it as one of their skills.
In the Centre for Philanthropy, despite our name implying (to some) a greater interest in gifts of money rather than time, we are passionate about supporting the volunteers and volunteer managers of the present and future.
At undergraduate level we run a module called Kent Student Certificate in Volunteering, Platinum award. This is the highest level of volunteering accreditation that the University of Kent offers, and is aimed at those students who are already committed volunteers. It encourages and supports them in reflecting on the volunteering they do and how they benefit themselves and their communities through what they do. My own research is clear that engaging in volunteering when you are young is great way of making voluntary engagement part of your life, with participation often lasting a lifetime across one or many organisations.
At postgraduate level we are developing a module on volunteering with a strong volunteer management element. Many of the students who currently take our Fundraising and Philanthropy postgraduate module are voluntary sector professionals, and we recognise how important it is to provide academically robust and practically focussed teaching for those who work in the sector.
In all our teaching and module development, the needs of charities and those who work in them are paramount. National Volunteers Week is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of volunteers and those who make volunteering happen. We are proud of our contribution to this, and looking forward to contributing even more in the near future.