Goals 2014: What Are 5 Advantages You Gain By Volunteering?

Feel Good Volunteering

Feel Good Volunteering

What’s your immediate response to the concept of ‘volunteering’ some of your time?

“I can’t see the point. Besides I don’t have the right skills.”

“Not one of my goals, I’m afraid. I’m too busy in the real world.”

“I plan on doing some volunteering when I retire.”

Although I have heard similar sentiments before I think they might be keeping people from doing themselves and their workplaces a big favour.  For instance thousands of Community First Panel Members and Project People are currently benefiting their neighbourhoods, and themselves, by their efforts.

What’s In It For You?

So, building a volunteering goal into your personal development plan for 2014 adds value to your life, as well as the world around you. Here are 5 advantages that you and your day job gain when you take volunteer action:

5. You get to influence the development of your community and watch it change as a result of your work. Community might mean the workplace around you, the neighbourhood in which you live, or the wider networks to which you contribute.

4. Your leadership is instrumental in making change happen. When you volunteer you are doing more than your day to day activity. Contributing to an exceptional project means you are making an appreciable difference to others’ lives.

3. By working effectively with others your portfolio of skills grows.  You pick up aspects of what others can do. Meanwhile they are learning from you.

2. Your volunteer status distinguishes you as an activist, someone who sees things as they might be rather than just as they are.

1. Volunteering connects you to the widest network of active, helpful people. Who knows when those connections will be useful to you.

What’s Your Next Step?

Those are just some of the positives that come your way by stepping forward to volunteer. Over to you now: what project will you devote some time to this Spring?  Feel free to visit the Archives for some inspiration.

Background

As a footnote, according to recent data on Community from the Office for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on average, people in United Kingdom spend 2 minutes per day in volunteering activities, lower than the OECD average of 4 minutes per day.

By contrast on average, people in United States spend 8 minutes per day in volunteering activities, one of the highest in the OECD where the average is 4 minutes per day. high scores suggest there is a strong sense of community in the United States.

 

Goals 2014: 3 Questions To Help Manage Community First Panel Legacies

Community First Money

What Community First Funding Meant To One Ward In Year 1 And 2

Are you familiar with the concept of a Community First panel? 

If the answer is, ‘No’, here’s a brief explanation from my perspective, as a former panel chair.

‘Community First’ is the government’s neighbourhood improvement programme, running in England between 2012 and 2015.  The programme’s goal is to make funding available via a residents’ panel to not-for-profit organisations.  Those organisations will improve the quality of life in disadvantaged wards.

I think this approach could actually form the blue print for a future government wanting to devolve additional voluntary funding down to local communities via resident led panels.  That will depend on the panels functioning effectively, like the best project teams do.  The panels will still require thoughtful leadership and the input of skilled and confident volunteers.  Their legacy will involve changing the face of their neighbourhood.  A little work is necessary now to help make that legacy possible.

What are the panels doing at the moment?

As I write this post, residents‘ panels are deciding which local projects should receive a share of the final year of funding starting from April 2014.  The clock is ticking though, as panels need to submit their decisions to the government’s key delivery partner (the Community Development Foundation or CDF) by the end of March.

Local panels are a key part of the community based process, while other bodies have an overview of the bigger picture:  CDF is one of those bodies; Ipsos Mori the market research company is too, having evaluated the programme’s outcomes last year; the Young Foundation  is also an external partner supporting panels’ learning processes.

Which questions can the panel answer to help produce better future results?

Any project can benefit from holding a lessons learned exercise.  This exercise can provide valuable information to be used the next time similar work is commissioned.  I think the Young Foundation should encourage the panels to hold such an exercise and provide the answers to three questions this year.  This action forms a key part of the process of securing Community First’s panel legacy:

  • Which of the panel’s skills produced the bulk of the panel’s results?
  • What skills did the panel lack?
  • How could the panel produce even better results for their community if funding was available after 2015?

Answers to those questions should build up a picture of how panels produced good quality timely results, in a tough financial climate, and with limited volunteer resources.  Knowledge or skills gaps can then be filled by coaching or by mentoring.  Mapping that legacy now will also be invaluable if better results are expected from similar panels, by a future government.

Where can I find more information?

You can see some tweets about the programme from CDF, panels, and funded projects on Twitter if you use he #commfirst hashtag.

Click on the Podcasts tab above to listen to some questions you can answer to help you lead a panel (or a voluntary project) more easily.

Feel free to check out the Archive section for more thoughts on work and life goals.  There are further ideas relating to your work and life goals on Facebook and Google+ too