Are you thinking about setting up a new volunteering initiative in your organisation? The tips and checklists below will act as a starting point, giving you an overview of the key things to consider and helpful hints to get going.
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If you’re considering a new project, your first step should be planning work to lay the foundations of an effective service. Think through the people and systems you’ll need to run the service you have in mind.
Know your organisation’s key strategic and operational priorities
Agree how the service will meet strategic priorities
Agree on the scale and scope of your new service
Confirm the budget and resources needed
Identify key stakeholders/support team for implementation and wider ongoing service development and support
Run workshops to co-design and develop ideas for your new service
Produce an implementation/project plan and risk log covering:
Systems and infrastructure
Operations (including an engagement plan)
Identify and develop new policies you may need
The next step in setting up your new volunteering service is to consider the resources you need, and the processes you need to put in place to make it work efficiently.
Decide where your service will be based and how the space will be equipped
Identify what systems and technology are already in use/available and if they meet the needs of your service, for example:
Volunteer management system
Data capture tools
Consider your budget and then specify the hardware you need
Consider the lead time on equipment arriving and being set up
Design your referral process, including the systems, and communicate this to staff teams
Arrange training for staff and volunteers who will be using the systems and equipment
Understanding the budget, people, systems and processes you need to manage your service once it’s live is essential.
Define the reporting structure for your service
Produce a communications and marketing plan to raise awareness of your service
Produce a service delivery plan and update it regularly
Identify simple referral pathways
Engage clinical champions to promote your volunteer service
Develop your approach to managing the service. You’ll need to consider:
Stakeholder engagement plan
Volunteer recruitment plan
Volunteer induction and training package delivery
Communications and marketing plan
Reporting structure and frequency
Scheduling of volunteer shifts
Documentation for department/ward staff
Managing and supporting volunteers effectively is key to the success of your service. Handling volunteers well will mean they continue to give their time, and the service will have a more experienced, skilled and confident volunteering team.
It’s important to think about every stage of a volunteer’s journey, from their decision to volunteer through to training, induction, ongoing support and day to day engagement.
Agree on a set of volunteer tasks, responsibilities and boundaries
Produce a volunteer role description
Develop your volunteer recruitment plan
Design your volunteer training package
Develop your volunteer supervision and communication and engagement plan
Involve clinical staff in training delivery
Meet regularly with clinical staff to grow their support and working relationships with the volunteers
Offer regular 1 to 1 support sessions for your volunteers
Encourage reflective practice and sharing of ideas
It’s important to collate data and feedback, and use it to refine and improve your service.
1. Develop a theory of change. This is an essential tool to outline your service’s intended impact and to help decide what intermediate outcomes and ultimate goals to measure. You should create this right at the beginning, alongside identifying your service principles and the strategic and operational objectives your service is looking to address.
To understand the data you want to capture you also need to understand your key strategic and operational priorities. It’s important to identify the measures that will best demonstrate the impact and benefits of the service on these priorities.
2. Capture volunteer activity and feedback. Ask volunteers to fill in simple activity sheets so you can determine how many patients they supported and what activities they engaged in. The sheets will also help you collate feedback from staff, patients, families, friends and the volunteers themselves, and to gauge volunteer satisfaction after each session.
3. Capture key figures. Record your:
Create an outcome model – this will help you to plan effectively
Agree the service impact measures
Establish a control group or baseline data to demonstrate the impact of your service
Define the measures that will support continued investment and growth of the service
Check out our service guides, packed with information about how different types of volunteering services around the country work in practice, and the impact they make.View our guides