1-7 June is Volunteers’ Week – always a time to celebrate and say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK all year round. During the last few months we have seen an amazing volunteer response to the coronavirus pandemic, with many looking out for their neighbours and helping others in their communities So this year, more than ever before, we need to show our thanks, gratitude and recognition for volunteers, check out how you can get involved in Volunteers’ Week.
New research has found that 10 million people across the UK have volunteered during the pandemic, and 78% intend to continue, hopefully making this more than a short-term trend. So as our sector begins to think about adjusting to the ‘new normal’, and planning for an uncertain future, how can we harness this community spirit?
As we’re unlikely to return to ‘business as usual’ any time soon, many of the traditional ways of volunteering will bring new challenges. But volunteering can come in many forms, from front line operational work with service users, to micro or virtual volunteering, to being a trustee on a board.
Yes, trustees are also volunteers, and the work they do is vital to the success of any organisation. They are the people who have ultimate responsibility in law and make a huge difference at a strategic level in voluntary organisations and charities across the country. There are more than 250,000 trustees in Scotland, all doing vital work, which in the coming months will become more important than ever. Coronavirus has brough new governance challenges to boards and meetings have moved online. Financial challenges will be bigger, strategic plans may need reworking, and safeguarding beneficiaries will now take on a whole new meaning. Right now, trustees are never more needed
Anyone can volunteer as a trustee. If you’ve got particular financial or legal skills, that’s great. But it’s just as important to have a passion to help an organisation or a cause succeed. Your perspective and experiences can bring valuable insights to a board and ensure diversity of thought and good decision making. To be an effective trustee it’s important that you can work with other people in a team, make collective decisions, and offer constructive opinions and leadership. Don’t underestimate the work involved, but it’s really rewarding, and more important than ever right now.
In any economic downturn, volunteering as a trustee can also be a great way to boost your CV and make you more employable. It can also offer great networking opportunities, and the chance to develop your leadership skills. Being on a board can give you give you experience in budgeting and financial planning, staff recruitment, project management, and managing risk and developing strategy.
So if you’re looking to see what kind of trustee opportunities are available, take a look at Goodmoves or Volunteer Scotland for more ideas. If you’re a charity or employer, there are matching organisations that could help as well.
Now, more than ever, let’s celebrate volunteering in all its forms.