40% of heritage sector organisations have no volunteering strategy, reveals survey

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21st July 2021 15:19 - Museums, Libraries and Archives

40% of heritage sector organisations have no volunteering strategy: A survey by the Heritage Volunteering Group has found that two-fifths of heritage organisations have no volunteering strategy, rising to 43% of organisations who say they could not continue to exist without their volunteers.

The Heritage Volunteering Group Creating Capacity 2021 survey polled 64 of its members (more than half of which were from independent and local authority run organisations), also finding that heads of volunteering roles are uncommon, and 38% of participants said their senior management teams were involved with the strategic development of volunteering.

The survey also found that amongst the independent organisations polled, strategic thinking around volunteer engagement is low. While more than half (57%) have a strategy in place for volunteering, just 40% are 'highly engaged' in developing it and just 25% have a person employed at senior level to manage volunteering.

Covid-19 has had huge impact on heritage organisations, found the study, which the Heritage Volunteering Group believes could be a 'huge opportunity' to rethink volunteering and develop more diverse, resilient and impactful models. The organisation’s survey, however found that nearly two-fifths (38%) reported that they were not well equipped to develop these new models, with just 8% saying that they were.

The survey also found that more than half of the respondents had trouble accessing specialist advice (52%) when asked about accessing developmental resources. Nearly two fifths (38%) reported difficulties accessing guidance materials and templates, while accessing example of best practice (36%) and training materials were also mentioned (34%). A fifth said that they had difficulty accessing support from peers (20%).

When asked about the greatest requirements for developing their volunteer programme, 'wider organisational buy-in for volunteering', ranked top, followed by 'access to guidance and support material', 'senior management buy-in', and 'volunteer management training'. Then followed 'modern volunteer management software', 'support with the recruitment of volunteers' 'research or volunteering in the sector'' and 'increased budget'. 

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