QUALITY

VOLUNTEERING
AT THE BRITISH
RED CROSS
Full research report l Learning Organisation and Research team
One in a million: British Red Cross volunteers reach for the sky
Researcher
Sarah Joy
Authors
Sarah Joy, Liz Hendry, Femi Nzegwu
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 1
Executive summary 3
1 Research aims & methodology 7
2 Volunteering in the UK: What does the external research say? 11
2.1 Patterns and profiles of volunteering in the UK 11
2.2 Approaches to volunteer management practice in the UK 17
3 Volunteering at the British Red Cross: What do we already know? 23
3.1 Our volunteer characteristics and profiles 23
3.2 A wealth of internal research on the volunteer experience 27
4 Research findings: Achieving quality volunteering 37
4.1 The beneficiary perspective 37
4.2 Volunteer motivations: Staying on and leaving 40
4.3 The 6 key elements and 3 enablers of quality volunteering at the
British Red Cross 41

5 Case studies of external practice: What are other organisations doing? 63
6 Conclusions and implications for the British Red Cross 71
7 Recommendations for future research 73
Appendices
A Technical Report 75
B Sample demographics: Volunteer achieved survey sample 77
C Research focus group discussions and interview templates 81
C1 Volunteer focus groups 81
C2 Staff focus groups 83
C3 Beneficiary individual interviews 85

D Survey questionnaires 86
D1 Current volunteers telephone survey 86
D2 Former volunteers telephone survey 93
D3 Staff online survey 94
E Comparing two models for managing volunteers 99
F External literature reading list 100
G Internal research projects 102
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2 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
List of figures and tables
Figure 1 Beneficiary, volunteer and organisation needs 8
Figure 2 Age profiles of British Red Cross volunteers compared to UK population 24
Figure 3 Distribution of British Red Crossvolunteers across the Territories 25
Figure 4 Distribution of British Red Cross volunteers across the UK, March 2011 25
Figure 5 Length of service of current British Red Cross volunteers 26
Figure 6 Important aspects of volunteering (Wales, 2010) 33
Figure 7 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross (survey responses) 61
Table 1 Volunteering in England, 2001 to 2009–10 12
Table 2 Implications of a changing society on levels of volunteering 14
Table 3 Methodological challenges for the research 76
Table 4 Models of managing volunteers – “modern” versus “home–grown” 99
Table 5 Internal research projects related to volunteering 102
Acknowledgements
Special thanks to:
> All the staff, volunteers and beneficiaries who participated in the
interviews and focus groups, who responded to the surveys and
completed the Area Mappings, who gave up their time to share
their views and experiences.
> Volunteering staff across the organisation – UKO, Territory and Area
based staff who provided lots of opportunities for discussion, invitations
to meetings across the country as well as general support and
advice along the way.
> Rhianne Thomas (our project intern) for reviewing the vast quantity
of internal research sources related to volunteering and for supporting
many aspects of the project during her 3 month internship with us.
> The Learning Organisation and Research team. Alison McNulty and
Joanna White for their wisdom and technical support with the surveys.
Sian Rowbotham and Kimberley Rennick for their organisation skills
and support throughout. Simon de Lacy–Leacy for organising his
creative collection and transmission of volunteer experiences at the
National Assembly via video booth.
Note: A supplementary publication is available alongside this research report offering
insights on current volunteering practice from the Volunteer Advisers across the Areas.
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 3
“ We want to make
volunteering for us
the best experience
money can’t buy”
Saving Lives, Changing Lives
V
olunteering is a key enabling priority
(EP5) in the British Red Cross Strategy
2010–2015, Saving Lives, Changing
Lives, and is fundamental to delivering
our goals and mission. In March 2010, the Senior
Management Team commissioned an internal
research study to determine the elements of
quality volunteering at the Red Cross with a view
to further developing our volunteer proposition
and support systems.
The overall aim of this research study is to
define the elements of quality volunteering by
exploring different perspectives of the
volunteering experience at the British Red Cross
and subsequently identifying approaches that
best support staff and volunteers to deliver
British Red Cross’s business.
This study has enabled us to build on the
significant pieces of work previously conducted
and currently ongoing in volunteering teams
throughout the British Red Cross. It has brought
together the views of beneficiaries, volunteers
and staff in an attempt to identify the essential
elements which we need to focus on as an
organisation if we are to continue to enhance the
quality of volunteering at the British Red Cross
Executive Summary
4 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
– that is, our capacity to respond effectively to
the needs of our beneficiaries while ensuring that
the volunteering experience itself is positive,
rewarding and maximising of the talents and
skills people want to offer.
As of January 2011 there were nearly 33,000
volunteers on the PeopleSoft database. The
majority are women (70%), white (77%), with
an average age of 50, although nearly one–fifth
are young volunteers (aged over 15 and under
26). Across the Red Cross territories, the South
Eastern Territory has the most volunteers,
followed by Wales & Western; Northern; Scotland
Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man and then
UK Office.
The study identified six key elements and
three enabler elements of a quality Red Cross
volunteering model. The six key elements are:
1. Recruiting, retaining and integrating
volunteers who are best suited to carrying
out the work of the British Red Cross
2. Flexible deployment of volunteers – tailored
to their skills and responsive to Red Cross’
delivery needs
3. Building supportive relationships between
staff and volunteers and amongst volunteers
4. Ensuring accessible development
opportunities for volunteers to learn and
develop their skills
5. Embracing diversity and creating
opportunities for engaging with a diverse
workforce
6. Achieving consistency in our standards to
enable quality volunteering
The three enabler elements are:
1. An accurate and up-to-date volunteer
knowledge base
2. Appropriate resourcing
3. Creating more and better ways of sharing
learning and good practice relating to
volunteering
The diagram below provides a snapshot of how
staff and volunteers perceive themselves to be
QUALITY VOLUNTEERING AT THE BRITISH RED CROSS – SURVEY RESPONSES (FIGURE 7)
Note: Based on achieved
samples of 344 current
volunteers and 159 staff.
1
2
3
4
5
1. Recruiting, retaining
& integrating volunteers
2. Flexible deployment
of volunteers
7. Appropriate
resourcing
3. Building supportive
relationships
6. Achieving
consistency
4. Accessible development
opportunities
5. Embracing diversity
Staff
Volunteer
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 5
performing on 7 of the 9 quality elements. As
can be seen we fare least well in the consistency
in our standards and best in embracing diversity.
Proposals for improving practice are included
throughout the paper against each of the
quality volunteering elements discussed. These
come directly from the ideas and suggestions
given by volunteers and staff during the research.
A review of the external literature alongside our
internal findings suggests that we are in quite a
good position at the British Red Cross.We have
taken a bold step to identify what it means for
the Red Cross to have a quality volunteering
offer in place and we recognise the main areas
on which we should focus. However there remain
some strategic questions which we need to address
organisationally. Below we list five of these for
consideration:
> Developing a clear British Red Cros vision/
framework for volunteering. While volunteer
involvement is fundamental to the work of
Red Cross, the mission is to ensure everyone
gets the help they need in a crisis and hence,
remain beneficiary focused. Are volunteers
therefore largely a means to an end, an end in
itself or both? Acknowledging and being clear
about the tensions in these underpinning
philosophies of volunteering will enable a
greater understanding of the real implications
on volunteer support and management practice
(e.g. addressing issues surrounding the
selection of volunteers within a framework of
inclusion, supporting beneficiaries to become
volunteers as appropriate, highlighting wider
outcomes from involving volunteers, investing
in volunteers who might need a little more
support to empower and enable them to carry
out the work of the British Red Cross etc.)
> Understanding the potential impact on our
volunteers, of becoming more market focused.
The British Red Cross, like other voluntary
sector organisations, is rapidly growing its
involvement in the world of contracts and
contracting. Venturing increasingly into the
world of contracting may have implications
for volunteering at the British Red Cross.
In other words, what are the associated
challenges and opportunities arising from
a more market-approach to the Red Cross’
business given that volunteers engage for
more ‘social’ reasons? How does the Red
Cross travel down the contract route without
losing the distinctive nature, independence
and ethos of voluntary sector service provision
– which is what our volunteers are here
for and are proud of – without alienating
volunteers in the process? How well is the
Red Cross placed to address these issues
proactively?
> Leading thought and contribution. The British
Red Cross would appear to be in the upper
percentiles of leading thinking on defining
what quality volunteering is in the voluntary
sector. Is there an appetite for the Red Cross
to become engaged and contribute to a wider
public/sector debate?
> Diversifying our workforce, knowledge base
and reach. Issues of diversity will have a major
impact on both the quality and quantity of
volunteering at the British Red Cross over the
next several years. Innovative approaches and
a political will are needed to engage with new
communities in terms of expanding both
our volunteer and beneficiary base. What is
the Red Cross’ aspiration for proactively
diversifying its workforce and engaging with
new groups and communities in the future?
> Resourcing quality volunteering is not
insubstantial. Additional resources are called
for to enable the outlined recommended
improvements to take place as discussed. Some
prioritisation of the elements identified may be
necessary. However, there is a strategic related
question that must be addressed – that is, to
what degree of quality volunteering is the
British Red Cross aspiring – and what are the
associated resources required and in which
Red Cross is willing to invest in order to
realise this?
6 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 7
V
olunteering is a key enabling priority
(EP5) in the British Red Cross strategy
for 2010 –2015, Saving Lives,
Changing Lives, and is fundamental to
delivering our goals and mission. As part of this
commitment, a strategic programme dedicated
to improving the volunteer proposition has been
established and activities have been developed to
build on our good practice and move us closer
towards our goal of attaining a quality
volunteering experience.
In March 2010, the Senior Management Team
commissioned an internal research study to
determine the elements of quality volunteering
at the British Red Cross with a view to further
developing our volunteer proposition and
support systems.
Aims and outcomes
The overall aim of this research study is to
define the elements of quality volunteering by
exploring different perspectives of the
volunteering experience at the British Red
Cross and subsequently identifying approaches
that best support staff and volunteers to deliver
the Red Cross’ business. The intended research
outcomes are to develop:
1 Research aims & methodology
8 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
> An increased understanding of what quality
volunteering means at the British Red Cross
from the experiences and needs of volunteers,
staff and beneficiaries.
> An enhanced sharing of internal (and external)
good practice and learning to build upon and
feed into the implementation of Saving Lives,
Changing Lives.
> An understanding of some of the key
indicators for measuring progress towards
quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
in the future.
In order to draw out the different perspectives
of the British Red Cross volunteer experience
and get a deeper understanding of what quality
volunteering is, the research study was structured
around three key dimensions: volunteer needs,
beneficiary needs and organisational needs
(see Figure 1).
The British Red Cross vision:
A world where everyone gets the help they need in a crisis
Beneficiary needs v volunteer needs v organisation needs? The triangle of our key stakeholders
is presented below. Ultimately we are here to serve our beneficiaries, and volunteers are our way of
meeting those needs. Without them we couldn’t function. So improving the volunteer experience
is vital so that volunteers can be more effective for our beneficiaries.
FIGURE 1 BENEFICIARY, VOLUNTEER AND ORGANISATION NEEDS
BENEFICIARY NEEDS
Ultimate aim to provide a good service to
people in crisis and hence, have satisfied
beneficiaries
VOLUNTEER NEEDS
Vital to provide a quality
volunteer experience so
that volunteers are happy
and effective in carrying
out British Red Cross
activity
ORGANISATION NEEDS
Striving to be an efficient
and effective learning
organisation working
towards the British Red
Cross vision
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 9
Methodology
A mixed–methods approach was employed for
the study. The following phases were scheduled
to run over nine months from October 2010
to June 2011:
1. Scope project background to identify current
priorities and contexts
2. Review of internal and external volunteering
related research
2.1 Internal data analysis and interpretation
2.2 External literature review and models of
good practice
3. Define Red Cross and other models or
approaches to volunteer management
3.1 Mapping of existing practice and
processes in place across the twenty one
Areas
3.2 External models in other national
volunteer led organisations
4. Identify staff needs and perspectives to
capture what managers feel is most effective
and most challenging in their existing
approaches to volunteering. Thirteen staff
focus groups were carried out and an online
survey of service co–ordinators was conducted
to gather staff views. 159 responses were
received yeilding a response rate of 40%.
5. Understand the key elements of volunteer
satisfaction/experiences to explore volunteer
views of current approaches and gain further
insight into how best to engage volunteers
within the British Red Cross. Sixteen
volunteer focus groups were carried out
and a telephone survey of 456 volunteers
was conducted to gather volunteer views.
6. Explore the beneficiary experience.
Semi–structured interviews with eighteen
beneficiaries were carried out to gather views
from a range of different services – Refugee
services, Health and Social Care, Fire
Emergency Support Services, as well as
attendees on first aid courses.
The volunteer survey breakdown of responses
by service was as follows: 26% Retail, 24% EFA,
18% Fundraising, 10% Health & Social Care
projects (other than the services listed separately),
8% Medical loan, 8% CBFA, 7% ER, 7% Care
in the Home, 5% Transport & Escort, 4% FESS,
3% Youth services, 3% Office admin volunteer,
2% Refugee Services, 1% ITMS. Please note that
volunteers were able to tick multiple boxes if
they volunteered for more than one part of
the organisation.
Responses broken down by Territory were:
30% South Eastern, 23% Wales & Western,
20% Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man,
19% Northern, 3% UKO, 5% don’t know.
Further details of the data collection, research
methodological challenges, survey sample
demographics as well as the focus group
topic guides, interview templates and survey
questionnaires can be found in Appendices A,
B, C and D.
10 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 11
T
his section summarises the trends and
findings from the external literature
review and starts to highlight some of
the key questions that the British Red
Cross will need to consider in order to develop
a strong, relevant volunteer offer in the future.
2.1 Patterns and profiles
of volunteering in the UK
2.1.1 Volunteering – on the rise or
in decline?
Overall the evidence shows remarkable
stability in the actual levels of volunteering over
the past twenty years. The latest Citizenship
Survey results for England, 2009–10 report that
40% of the adult population have volunteered
formally (within groups and organisations) at
least once in the last year, and 25% volunteer
formally at least once a month. Trends from this
survey show some small indications of growth
in volunteering in the early to mid–2000s
followed by gentle decreases in the latter part
of this decade.
2 Volunteering in the UK: What does the
external research say?
12 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
TABLE 1 VOLUNTEERING IN ENGLAND, 2001
TO 2009 –10
At least
once a year
At least
once a month
2001 39% 27%
2003 42% 28%
2005 44% 29%
2007-8 43% 27%
2008-9 41% 26%
2009-10 40% 25%
Source: Citizenship Survey, DCLG
It’s difficult to compare the above figures for
England with Wales, Scotland and Northern
Ireland, due to different survey collections and
methodologies having an impact on the results
produced. However, research indicates that levels
of volunteering appear to be highest in England
and lowest in Northern Ireland.
Furthermore, different surveys in England
offer different results for volunteering activity
estimates, although the trend showing stability
in the levels of volunteering within the individual
sources is consistent. General household surveys
(e.g. the British Household Panel Survey) have
lower estimates to the more recent surveys that
set out specifically to explore volunteering (e.g.
the Citizenship Survey and the National Survey
of Volunteering and Charitable Giving). These
differences are attributed to the exact wording
of questions as well as the context being either
a fleeting question amongst many other topics
versus a focused survey designed to help people
to recall more about their volunteering. The
Third Sector Research Centre advise that, due
to differences in survey results and the
uncertainties surrounding the definition of
volunteering, it’s safer to refer to a range of
20%–50% as the population estimate for annual
volunteering and 10%–30% for volunteering on
a monthly basis (TSRC, 2010).
2.1.2 What about the effects of
the recession?
Some discussions (based on anecdotal evidence
only) have attributed a recent growth in
volunteering enquiries and applications to the
recession. However, the evidence on this is not
conclusive. On the contrary, the Institute for
Volunteering Research (IVR), recently published
a think piece stating “claims that volunteering
flourished during the recession were premature
and overly optimistic and that in fact rates have
declined” (Hill, 2011).
Examples of organisations experiencing growth
from 2007 to 2008 come from YouthNet who
reported receiving more than double the number
of applications from potential volunteers with a
132% increase, VSO who saw a 128% increase
in enquiries for voluntary work, and Crisis who
had a 66% increase in people preparing to
volunteer in their Christmas centres. (NCVO,
2009). Growth in the number of actual
volunteers arising from the enquiries in these
individual examples is not stated. Hill suggests
that “it may be that the beginnings of the
recession did see a boost in interest in
volunteering but that this interest was not
converted into people actually volunteering”.
It would be interesting to understand how and
whether organisations were able respond to this
increased interest. What was their capacity to
deal with such a surge in applications? Did this
result in waiting lists for volunteering? How was
this managed and hence, how did it impact on the
volunteer experience? The honest answer is that
we don’t know very much about the impact of
the recession on volunteering.
2.1.3 Who is most likely to volunteer?
> Women are more likely to volunteer than
men. However, the difference is not as marked
as we might think 28% of women reported
volunteering regularly (i.e. at least once a
month) compared to 23% of men in the
Citizenship Survey for 2008–9. Note that
women were more likely than men to be
involved in organisations related health and
social welfare, education, and older people.
Men were more likely to get involved with
groups focusing on sport, exercise and politics.
> People aged between 35 to 49 and 65 to 74
are more likely to volunteer regularly (28%
and 29% respectively) than the other age
groups. However, the relationship between
age and likelihood of volunteering is complex.
> Black, white and mixed race groups have
similar levels of volunteering (26%, 25%
and 23% respectively), higher than asian and
chinese people (16% and13%). However, we
need to be careful that overall figures don’t
cover up differences in volunteering within
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 13
ethnic groups. Lower levels of volunteering
are reported for people born outside the UK.
> Regional differences show that people in the
South West and South East are most likely
to volunteer regularly (31% and 28%
respectively) and people in London and the
North West are least likely (both at 20%). The
type of area also makes a difference, people in
rural areas are more likely to volunteer than
those in urban areas, and affluent areas see
higher levels of volunteering than deprived
areas.
> Employed people are more likely to volunteer
than unemployed people (although the
difference isn’t great for regular volunteering
– 27% compared to 24% respectively). Within
the employed, people in higher managerial and
professional occupations are more likely to
volunteer regularly than those in more routine
occupations.
> People with higher levels of education and
qualifications are more likely to volunteer than
those with lower or no qualifications (and this
latter group have become a key government
target for volunteering in England).
As Rochester, Ellis–Paine and Howlett (2010)
point out, there are lots of factors influencing the
propensity to volunteer so we should exercise
caution in making any broad generalisations from
the above. Demographic characteristics have not
been proved to be strong predictors explaining
whether someone will volunteer or not (Hurley
et al. 2008). Omoto and Snyder (2008) look at a
variety of other factors that need to be considered
in looking at what it is about people, or the
situations they find themselves in that gets them
started as volunteers. The factors they explore
in this stage of their model of the ‘volunteering
process’ (the antecedents) are: helpful personality,
motivation and social support.
2.1.4 How do people find out about
opportunities to volunteer?
> Most volunteers find out about volunteering
opportunities through someone else already
involved in the group. Over half (56%) of the
Citizenship Survey respondents in 2008–9 who
volunteered at least once a month found out
about it this way.
> Other common sources of information for
about a quarter (24%) of regular volunteers
were through school, college or university,
highest for younger volunteers and those
aged 35 to 49, and through word of mouth
from someone not involved in the group.
> Just over 1 in 5 volunteers (22%) found out
about opportunities through having previously
used the service of the group or organisation.
> Very few regular volunteers find out via the
internet or organisational website (6%),
although this is higher amongst young people
aged 16 to 25 (12% compared with between
0% and 6% of people in older age groups).

Data source: Citizenship Survey, DCLG,
2008–9.
2.1.5 A changing society
Society is changing and this is affecting the
profiles and preferences of our volunteers. An
ageing population, changes in employment
patterns, rising inequality, weaker connections
to community, rising individualism,
consumerism and the growth of the internet are
just a few of the societal changes to consider if
we want to better understand the landscape for
volunteering now and into the future. (Rochester,
Ellis–Paine and Howlett, 2010). These changes
represent both opportunities and challenges for
the sector as the following table illustrates.
14 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
TABLE 2 IMPLICATIONS OF A CHANGING SOCIETY ON LEVELS OF VOLUNTEERING
Population
sub-group
Implication
Opportunity
or challenge?
Women Decreasing amount of time for women to devote to volunteering.
The growth of women in the labour market reduces their
availability to volunteer, historically women have been a large
source of time-rich, committed volunteers.
Challenge
Older people Growing numbers of active retired people who are recognised to
have a large contribution to make to volunteering (coupled with
the increasing age of retirement). More targeted efforts could be
made to attract, recruit and retain the active retired.
Opportunity
Younger people Longer periods of time spent in full time education by growing
numbers of young people creates the opportunity for colleges
and universities to engage more young people as volunteers.
Opportunity
Minority ethnic
communities
Tapping into the individual communities of cultural and religious
diversity which make up a community and can be a successful
source of voluntary action and volunteering.
Opportunity
Employees The workplace context and increasing role of the employer to
involve employees in volunteering. Perhaps the challenge is in
designing roles which are meaningful and applicable.
Opportunity
& challenge
Internet users The internet providing a big opportunity in terms of reaching
people but the challenge being how this is transformed into
meaningful volunteering for the organisation and for the
volunteer. Organisations need to consider the big reduction in
face to face contact that this entails.
Opportunity
& challenge
Content sourced and adapted from Volunteering and Society in the 21st
Century (Chapter 6: A Changing Society),Rochester, Ellis–Paine, Howlett, 2010
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 15
Implications of a changing society on the
nature of volunteering
We’ve briefly looked at how the numbers and
profiles of current and potential volunteers might
alter, so what are some of the consequences of
this for changes in the nature of volunteering now
and into the future? We will outline four potential
growth areas below and look at some of the main
considerations for volunteer–involving
organisations to take into account.
a) Towards shorter–term volunteering?
Although not necessarily an entirely new
phenomenon, the literature discusses short–term
or episodic volunteering as a different type of
engagement to the traditional, longer–serving
volunteer. It is seen as limited in time and scope
with more of an expectation for it to be
rewarding for the volunteer. Macduff (2005)
identifies three different types of episodic
volunteers. There are one–off episodic volunteers
who might do a few hours on a single occasion
(e.g. Red Cross week), there are interim episodic
volunteers who might volunteer regularly but for
a time–limited period (e.g. interns), and there are
occasional episodic volunteers who might do
short bursts of volunteering at regular intervals
(e.g. fundraising).
Considerations for volunteering organisations
> Short–term volunteering gives organisations
a strong motivation to look at different roles,
functions and services and see how episodic
volunteers fit, to maximise their creative design
of volunteer opportunities for the different
types of episodic volunteer. For example, in
some cases this might be geared towards
attracting people with specific skills to offer.
> Promoting episodic volunteering opportunities
as a way of “testing the water”, if people have
a good experience then they might be
persuaded to increase their involvement
(Handy et al., 2006).
> Note that there is no conclusive evidence that
managing episodic volunteers needs a whole
new model (Handy et al, 2006). However,
there is a need for volunteer–involving
organisations to respond to the increasingly
common mixture of volunteer styles and
consider whether bespoke or different
arrangements should be considered for
recruitment, induction, training, support
and supervision.
b) Towards employer–supported volunteering?
Employee engagement in volunteering
encompasses a multitude of activities, roles and
arrangements in place. Similarly wide–ranging is
the extent to which the programme is seen to
meet the differing needs of the employee (e.g.
gaining skills, understanding and experience), the
company (e.g. staff satisfaction, building team–
working) and/ or the community or voluntary
sector organisation (e.g. volunteer capacity with
a specific skill).
Considerations for volunteering organisations
> Employee volunteering is an opportunity for
volunteer–involving organisations to tap into
a new source of volunteers with specific
knowledge or skills. However, in practice,
creating a suitable match can be difficult,
hence the growing number of “broker”
agencies such as Business in the Community
or a local volunteer centre (Rochester, Ellis–
Paine, Howlett, 2010).
> Attracting the right employer partners and
designing meaningful volunteer roles for their
employees could lead to a diversity of
opportunities for involvement.
c) Towards virtual volunteering?
Advances in new technology are constantly
opening up opportunities and ways for people
to communicate and get involved. This has
the potential to have a major impact on
volunteering in the future. Data reviewed by
Murray and Harrison (2005) highlighted that
online volunteers were engaged in all sorts of
activities from desktop publishing and designing
or maintaining websites to research, fundraising,
policy development, training and direct service
development.
Considerations for volunteering organisations
> Virtual volunteering enables people to
volunteer from their own home reducing
some barriers (e.g. for people who have
mobility problems).
> This is an opportunity for organisations to
think about meaningful and attractive
volunteer roles that can be carried out at a
distance (e.g. an example of this from British
Red Cross is retail volunteers selling goods
on e–bay).
> Organisations will need to adjust and identify
appropriate methods of engagement, co–
ordination and support for online volunteers,
given the inevitable reduction in/ absence of
face to face contact.
16 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Note that while online recruitment is an
attractive method of reaching people, it is
recognised as tending not to have as high a
strike rate for turning volunteer enquirers
or applications into active volunteers.
d) Towards transitional volunteering?
Transitional volunteering is about developing
volunteering opportunities for varying groups
of people to enable them to develop a range of
transferable skills which will open up new avenues
for success and perhaps continued engagement in
volunteering.
There is at present very little external literature
in this area. Interestingly, some Areas and
services within the British Red Cross have been
increasingly working with back to work schemes
and the probation services in what are sometimes
referred to as “third way” arrangements, a hybrid
between paid people and volunteers. There is
much to learn from some Red Cross Areas such
as those in Wales who have been engaging ‘third
way’ participants to gain experience, skills and
often to rebuild their self esteem and confidence.
This in turn allows them to access employment
and other developmental opportunities. This
approach is seen, by some, as a real opportunity
to attract and engage new ‘volunteers’
and improve diversity. However, as one staff
member highlighted in the research, there is
currently little knowledge and support for
working with these organisations and greater
learning is required.

Considerations for volunteering organisations
> Organisations may need to consider whether
different volunteer support and management
practices are necessary for this type of
volunteering, and if so, what the implications
of this will be for volunteer managers.
> A successful outcome of this type of
volunteering is when volunteers move on (e.g.
find paid work), which may well mean they
stop volunteering. This notion of volunteering
to enable people to move on may be quite a
culture shift for organisations that measure the
success of their volunteer programmes through
volunteer retention and length of service.
2.1.6 How can volunteer–involving
organisations respond?
The literature suggests that organisations are, and
will need to continue, to adapt their approaches
to attracting and engaging volunteers in response
to changes in society. Some of the approaches put
forward in the literature are:
> Better marketing strategies: A good
communications approach is seen as essential
and organisations serious about quality
volunteering need a strategy tailored to
different segments of the potential market,
e.g. younger volunteers and students, employee
volunteers etc (Evans and Saxton, 2005).
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 17
> Making users/ beneficiaries central to our
approach: Exploring ways of increasing user
involvement. For example in developing
monitoring and evaluation approaches and
identifying and tackling weaknesses in current
volunteering structures that don’t focus on
beneficiary involvement. Volunteering England:
http://www.volunteering.org.uk/WhatWeDo/
Local+and+Regional/Volunteer+Centre+Qualit
y+Accreditation. Accessed 26 May 2011.
> A transformation of the volunteer request:
It should be attractive and focused with a clear
explanation of the benefits to the volunteer
and the organisation as well as how the
organisation will use their time effectively
(Evans and Saxton, 2005).
> Renewing the image of volunteering:
Public perceptions of volunteering (particularly
amongst those who don’t volunteer) need to
be changed. Breaking down stereotypes and
promoting volunteering as a means of
developing mutual support and reciprocity
rather than charity and dependency would
help to eradicate some of the associated
barriers to involvement in volunteering
(Evans and Saxton, 2005).
> Recognising that all volunteers are diverse
and different: Developing a co–ordinated,
inclusive and bespoke approach to making the
connections between potential volunteers and
an organisation as well as making the activity
desirable to the volunteer (Zimmeck, 2001).
> Maintaining a healthy balance: Balancing the
numbers of volunteers being recruited and
managed alongside the support that volunteers
should receive, always keeping primary the
organisation’s service user needs (Gale, 2011).
http://www.volunteermanagers.org.uk/
quality–versus–quantity–balancing–see–saw
Accessed 26 May 2011
> Overcoming the obstacles in volunteering:
Exploring the practices of many volunteer
involving organisations and keeping a check
on the increasingly excessive bureaucracy that
has appeared through the standardisation and
professionalisation of the field of volunteer
management (Rochester, Ellis–Paine, Howlett,
2010).
There are different ways for organisations to
respond to changes in society which will depend
upon organisation culture as well as the capacity
to drive forward change. Rochester, Ellis–Paine
and Howlett (2010) suggest that organisations
should also consider changing practice and
perceptions at the wider level of challenging
the values of our society through:
“…actively promoting some key values at
the expense of other societal norms. It would
mean, for example, promoting solidarity and
cooperation rather than individualism; the pursuit
of well–being rather than material wealth and
consumption; and engagement in society as a
citizen rather than as a consumer”.
2.2 Approaches to volunteer
management practice in the UK
2.2.1 Volunteer management: a brief
history
Where are we now?
Over the past two decades, we have seen
volunteer work across the sector slowly become
more structured and managed following the HR
principles of managing paid staff. This is
evidenced in the language and the checklists that
have crept in for developing effective volunteer
management strategies alongside role descriptions,
recruitment interviews, written policies, equal
opportunities monitoring amongst many other
procedures and processes. Volunteer co–ordinator
support roles have been created in many
organisations and more recent conversations
had around the professionalisation of the role
of a volunteer manager. Alongside this, the sector
has developed its own quality standard for
volunteering called Investing in Volunteers (IiV),
launched nationally in 2004.
www.investinginvolunteers.org.uk
How did we get here?
There are a number of reasons why volunteer
management has evolved in this way:
> The perception that volunteers want good
management. In the 1997 National Survey of
Volunteering 71% of volunteers said that their
volunteering could be better organised,
fuelling sector debate about what good
volunteer management should look like and
how it should be developed. Ten years later,
in the latest National Survey of Volunteering
(Helping Out, 2007 by the Institute of
Volunteering Research), the figure was much
lower, with 31% of respondents reporting that
their volunteering could be better organised.
> External pressures on volunteer–involving
organisations to demonstrate effectiveness
and efficiency. We’ve seen a growing
18 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
requirement across the sector for organisations
to be accountable to funders and prove their
worth. Funding bodies can insist that
organisations collect data and show how
volunteers contribute to the work of the
organisation.

> The rise of contract funding in the sector. In
addition, where specific contract funding is
received to provide services, a whole host of
other obligations may need to be put in place
relating to the co–ordination and management
of volunteers and to prove cost–effectiveness
and reliability.
And where are we going?
The debate about whether volunteers should be
managed has been replaced with conversations
about how volunteers should be managed and
to what extent. Are we heading in the right
direction? Or have we gone too far?
2.2.2 Models of volunteer management
So, what exactly is good practice in volunteer
management? How many different models are
there? Can volunteer management practices be
implemented flexibly across different types of
organisation? These are just some of the questions
that have been explored in the literature in
seeking to understand further what methods are
most appropriate and effective for managing
volunteers.
How many different models?
Although the workplace model has gained much
acceptance in recent years, volunteer–involving
organisations are diverse, volunteers are diverse
and the roles they carry out are enormously
varied. It would therefore make sense to assume
that one size cannot fit all. So how many different
or alternative ways are there for thinking about
volunteer management?
This was the question at the centre of a review
carried out by Meta Zimmeck at the Institute
for Volunteering Research, published in 2001.
She was surprised to find that “mountains
have produced molehills, and there are but
two models... the “modern” and the “home–
grown””. The modern management model
being the bureaucratic approach, most likely
in larger organisations with hierarchical
structures, in contrast to the home–grown
model of a more collectivist–democratic approach
with less application of rules and procedures. See
Appendix E for Zimmeck’s comparison of how
volunteers might be managed within each setting
across key elements of volunteer involvement.
Zimmeck looks at the challenges in the
applicability of each model although she doesn’t
make a case for general applicability of either
model on its own due to lack of robust evidence.
Limitations of the modern model are seen in its
lack of flexibility, that it’s a closed and self–
perpetuating system (carrying on whether it
produces desired outcomes or not) and that it can
alienate many volunteers in seeming to strive to
make volunteering “just like work”. Conversely,
limitations of the “home–grown” model are that
it is considered messy and unwieldy (collective
decision–making can be time–consuming and
difficult to sustain long–term), that the absence
of checks and monitoring can allow corruption
to creep in, and that unstructured access to power
can become elitist and exclusive, allowing those
in the inner circles to gain control.
However, Zimmeck concludes there isn’t a
simple choice between two models of volunteer
management but an “infinite range of
possibilities from “bureaucratic” to “home
grown” and all sizes in between – as dictated
by the particular requirements of particular
volunteers, particular activities and particular
organisations”.
Rochester, Ellis–Paine and Howlett (2010) also
argue that it isn’t black and white and that
attempting to simplify things will limit us. We
need to take account of the diversity of roles and
volunteer preferences within one organisation
that may need very different management styles.
Hence, organisations need to be able to respond
to this need and, where necessary and
appropriate, facilitate the management of
volunteers in similar settings using different
approaches. However, there is a note of caution
in that, a weakness of the “modern” model is
its apparent inability to be flexible.
Another lens for looking at different models
of volunteer management practice comes from
Goodall (2000) in his review of the literature of
the voluntary sector and volunteer management.
He highlights two main tendencies. The first is
the tendency to improve the management of
volunteers by treating them in the same ways
as paid staff. The second is the tendency to do
this by stressing their differences from paid staff,
which involves questioning the value of applying
the workplace model to volunteers. His article
goes on to apply this to the charity shop context
developing discussion and debate around the
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 19
meaning of the word “professional” in the
voluntary sector in the context of staff and
volunteer workforces (relating to competence,
efficiency and effectiveness). He highlights the
breadth and ambiguity of the term and how
volunteer management approaches can differ in
relation to the application of different meanings
of professionalism and its relationship to
voluntarism.
Overall, there is agreement in the external
literature that there are advantages to adopting
certain formal measures. Locke et al., (2003)
reviewed the range of literature on volunteer
retention which suggests that changes in personal
circumstances are, in fact, the biggest reason to
cause people to leave volunteering. Alongside
this, they also state that management which is
“explicit, developmental, supportive and
appreciative” may encourage volunteers to stay.
Examples of specific features mentioned in the
literature include:
> An application process which allows
volunteers and organisations to choose
one another
> Written policies outlining the role for
volunteers and what they can expect from
the organisation (a statement about what
is involved)
> Some support available to volunteers with
supervisions to help review how volunteers
are involved (a supervision might be anything
from a scheduled meeting to an informal chat
over a cup of tea (Rochester, Ellis–Paine and
Howlett 2010).

However, the literature emphasises that the
important thing is for volunteers to have access
to support and not necessarily how the practices
are implemented.
2.2.3 What should volunteer–involving
organisations consider?
> It’s a balancing act. Balancing the by–no–
means compatible requirements of volunteers,
volunteer–involving organisations, and the
operating environment. (Zimmeck, 2001)
> A clear vision for volunteering. What is the
purpose of the organisation and how are
volunteers involved? Are volunteers largely
a means to an end or a core expression of
values? How does this play out in practice and
what’s the effect on approaches to volunteer
management?
> A shared understanding of how the
organisation operates. Exploring the role of
volunteers – as owners, stakeholders or human
resources of the organisation? Has this role
evolved or changed over time, since the
organisation began, and what effects has this
had on volunteers, volunteer preferences and
volunteer management practices?
> Creative approaches to volunteer support.
These can range from highly formal,
professional and structured to highly
informal. To what extent do volunteers
and employees differ and how should their
management reflect this difference?
> Think about the barriers. Consider the barriers
to volunteering that are created by being too
prescriptive, too bureaucratic and too
inflexible. What lessons can we learn from
smaller, less formal bodies that don’t
necessarily follow the “work–place model”
of volunteer management?
20 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
2.2.4 Hybridity and encroachment:
the changing face of volunteering
According to Ellis–Paine et al (2010) in recent
times and across many countries, external forces
are increasingly shaping organisations and also
sometimes changing the nature of that
organisation resulting in hybridity – a
phenomenon in which third–sector organisations
begin to take on characteristics of organisations
from other sectors. The growing role for
volunteers in the contractual delivery of public
services is leading to more organisations adopting
more managerial and bureaucratic processes and
structures within volunteering.
This has implications for how volunteers fare
within the organisations. The authors suggest
that there is potential for an erosion of the more
social aspects of volunteer support, engagement
and involvement leading to a displacement of
the volunteer with major implications for the
organisation. In their opinion, the involvement
of volunteers in an organisation does more than
support an organisation in achieving its goals.
It also makes a major statement about the
organisation’s values and ethos. There are
therefore major considerations to be made
by those organisations that find themselves
gravitating towards the model of
“professionalisation of volunteering”.
2.2.5 Volunteer preferences: what do
volunteers want?
We suggested earlier that volunteers do want
their work to be organised and that supportive
management might encourage volunteers to stay.
On the other hand, we are worried that too
much bureaucracy puts up barriers to people
getting involved in volunteering.
Gaskin’s research (2003) tells us that volunteers
actually want “a choice blend” and so the
challenge lies in ensuring volunteer management
practices are flexible but organised, personal but
professional, informal but efficient, offering
choice but with a degree of control.
The distinction between “members” and
“volunteers” has been made by Cameron’s (1999)
study of church groups suggesting that members
of an association have a greater commitment
than other volunteers, expect to have a greater
say in the organisation, have a greater sense of
reciprocity and a better overview of the
organisation and its work.
Members are “less likely to identify with a
particular role and more likely to come to
volunteering with a history of attachment to a
cause, belief or organisation... they see themselves
as members who range over tasks, doing what is
necessary when it is needed” (Rochester,
Ellis–Paine and Howlett, 2010).
Different volunteers will respond to different
management approaches and some studies
suggest that the key to understanding which
approaches suit different volunteers is to
understand how volunteers view their roles. Meijs
and Hoogstad (2001) make a distinction between
the management of members and management
focused on volunteer service delivery programmes,
and that members are much more likely to
respond to (and demand) involvement that
is not like the workplace model.
2.2.6 Who comes first? Bring in the
beneficiary focus
The volunteering literature explores volunteers
and their experiences and recognises that
organisations need to satisfy their volunteers and
keep them happy in order to encourage them to
stay. There is less emphasis in the literature on the
purpose of the volunteering activity in achieving
the end outcome for the organisation.
Organisations that are working with volunteers to
provide a service for a client will understandably
have a focus on the needs of their service users
as the end outcome they are looking to achieve.
Rochester, Ellis–Paine and Howlett (2010) do
allude to the fact that such organisations “will not
be able to play the role of offering opportunities
to ‘less productive’ volunteers and enable them to
learn how to make a contribution to the work.”
2.2.7 Towards defining quality
volunteering
One of the original aims of the research was
to build a shared, common understanding of
what quality volunteering means for the British
Red Cross. The external literature review has
highlighted a wealth of existing thinking related
to volunteering as a whole, although there is a
surprisingly scant amount of work which engages
directly with the notion of quality volunteering.
1

1 The European Commission has convened a working group on quality
volunteering, as part of the international year of volunteering, 2011. The
mission of that working group is to: Work towards a common definition
of “quality volunteering”; Clarify the roles and responsibilities of the
organisers of volunteering in ensuring quality volunteering experiences;
Identify and disseminate good practice in the field of quality assurance
and quality assessment tools used by volunteer organisations.
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 21
Susan Ellis (2011) reflects on the question
of quality volunteering in her paper in
e–volunteerism. She raises the question of what
quality means when applied to volunteering.
> Thinking about what volunteers do, she
suggests that to achieve quality volunteering
we need to assure that any volunteering has
a purpose.

> In terms of how well volunteers do it, she
suggests that to achieve quality volunteering
we need to assure that every volunteer does
the best job (however, questions are raised
around how we measure this and who should
asses it).
> And looking at the impact of volunteering, she
suggests that for quality volunteering we need
to assure that the activity matters to someone
other than the volunteer (this raises wider
considerations around the organisation ethos
and whether volunteering is seen as an
outcome in itself).
She then goes on to suggest that perhaps rather
than seeking to achieve quality volunteering, we
should be looking at strategic flexibility – that
encompasses a range of activities that all matter
and allows volunteers to serve to the best of their
abilities, a mix of structured and less structured
settings, long term and spontaneous commitments
and leaving room for volunteer creativity in
addressing needs.
22 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 23
3.1 Our volunteer characteristics
and profiles
There were nearly 33,000 volunteers on the
PeopleSoft database in January 2011. A large
majority (80% or 26,066) were classified as
regular volunteers. A further 9% or 3,050 were
occasional volunteers. The rest are either link
group volunteers (1464 or 5%) or contact group
volunteers (1813 or 6%), largely those who have
volunteered in the past and want to stay in
touch with the British Red Cross in some way
or another.
2
Who are our volunteers?
> Gender: Seventy percent of Red Cross
volunteers are female and 30% are male
(compared with 51% and 49% respectively
in the UK population aged 15+).
> Age: The average age of a British Red Cross
volunteer is 50. However, nearly a fifth of all
volunteers are young volunteers (aged over
15 and under 26) which is in line with the
2 Note that a review of Link groups is due to take place in 2013. Current
(PeopleSoft) definitions: Link group – Has explicitly requested to remain
“linked” to an area; Contact Group (elective) – Has explicitly requested
to be part of the contact group; Contact Group (passive) – No contact
made during audit process.
3 Volunteering at the British Red Cross:
What do we already know?
24 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
proportion of the UK population over 15 in
this age group. There is a higher proportion of
older volunteers (over 55) in the Red Cross at
46% compared to the population estimate of
33%. Hence, the Red Cross has fewer
volunteers in the middle age groups between
26 and 55, and in particular from 36 to 45
with 11% of Red Cross volunteers falling in
this age group compared to 18% for the UK
population, aged 15+, as a whole (see
Figure 2).
> Ethnicity: Monitoring data shows that 4%
of British Red Cross volunteers are Asian or
Asian British, 3% Black or Black British, and
1% reported a Mixed–race background.
Comparative national data is 5%, 3% and
1% respectively (note these figures are the
latest 2007 mid–year estimates for England
and Wales only). 77% of British Red Cross
volunteers are White, however data is not
recorded for 15% of volunteers.
FIGURE 2 AGE PROFILES OF BRITISH RED CROSS VOLUNTEERS COMPARED TO THE UK POPULATION
Source: UK population mid–year estimates for 2009 from the ONS for all persons aged 15+.
% Population
% British Red Cross
Volunteers
15–25 26–35 36–45 46–55 56–65 66–75 76 +
0
5
10
15
20
18%
19%
16%
12%
13%
14%
18% 18%
17%
11% 11%
10%
9%
16%
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 25
Where are our volunteers?
> Of the four UK territories in the British Red
Cross, South Eastern has the most volunteers
with over a third of the total (35% or 11,450),
followed by Wales and Western at just under a
quarter (24% or 7,900). The Northern
Territory has 6,900 volunteers and Scotland,
Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man have
5,950. In addition, nearly 200 volunteers are
based at UK Office. (See Figure 3)
3
> The map below (Figure 4) gives a visual
representation of the spread of British Red
Cross volunteers across the country. It
highlights in red where there are high numbers
of volunteers to orange and yellow and then
green highlights gaps where there are no
volunteers. This is based on the volunteer
home postcode.
3 In terms of the Red Cross Areas, the highest number of volunteers
(recorded on PeopleSoft) are in Kent & Sussex, nearly 3,000, followed
by Cornwall, Devon, Dorset & Somerset (2,600), then Wales (2,300), and
then London (2,000). Figures are rounded.
35%
South Eastern
24%
Wales & Western
21%
Northern
18% Scotland, Northern
Ireland and the Isle of Man
1%
UKO Volunteers
FIGURE 3 DISTRIBUTION OF BRITISH RED
CROSS VOLUNTEERS ACROSS THE
TERRITORIES
FIGURE 4 DISTRIBUTION OF BRITISH RED
CROSS VOLUNTEERS ACROSS THE UK,
MARCH 2011
26 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
> Comparing population data with our
volunteer data enables us to explore the
proportion of the population volunteering for
the British Red Cross across Areas. The data
highlights an inverse relationship between the
general population size and the proportion of
this population volunteering for the British
Red Cross. So, the larger the population, the
lower the proportion of the population
volunteering for the Red Cross. From this
analysis, the Areas with the highest
proportion of the population volunteering
were Mid Scotland and Argyll, and Northern
Scotland and these proportions were 0.15%.
How long have they been with the British
Red Cross?
> Length of service for a volunteer at the British
Red Cross is varied. While many volunteers
have been with the organisation a long time,
just under half (46%) of all current volunteers
have been with the organisation for less than
three years. Note that an audit of the
PeopleSoft database was carried out a few
years ago which may have resulted in a rise
in entries at this time. This might not
necessarily reflect the volunteers true start
date. (See Figure 5)
What do our volunteers do?
> First Aid services have the most volunteers
at more than 9,000, followed by Health and
Social Care with nearly 8,000 (comprising
Care in the Home, Medical Loan, Transport
and Escort, Therapeutic Care and Skin
Camouflage). Retail has just over 6,500
volunteers and Emergency Response over
5,000. (note – figures for primary and
secondary roles only, at January 2011)
> Nearly a quarter (24%) of volunteers support
more than one service within the British Red
Cross. Over 5,000 people (16%) volunteer for
two services, First Aid and Emergency
Response is a common combination. 1,700
(5%) are involved in three services and nearly
1,000 volunteer for four services or more.
Volunteer profiling data breakdowns by Area are
available online at http://gisdata/volunteer.html
from the Geographic Information Systems Team,
contact SJohnson@redcross.org.uk
Data warning note: The data presented in this
section has painted the picture as recorded in
PeopleSoft. Inevitably, the reality of any database
is that it’s only as good as what is entered in and
removed and there has been, and still is, ongoing
0
5
10
15
20
Under
1 year
1–2 2–3 3–5 5–10 10–15 15–25 25 +
19%
17%
10%
12%
13%
11%
9%
8%
FIGURE 5 LENGTH OF SERVICE OF CURRENT
RED CROSS VOLUNTEERS
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 27
work across the organisation to audit the data
and achieve the best possible estimates of our
volunteer numbers. See section 4.2.7 Having an
accurate and up to date volunteer knowledge
base, for further discussion of the research
findings related to this.
3.2 A wealth of internal research
on the volunteer experience
3.2.1 Have Your Say survey
Carried out every 2 years (since 2005), the Have
Your Say survey aims to provide an opportunity
for volunteers to give their views and opinions
on volunteering for the British Red Cross. It
therefore gathers vital information on areas where
the Red Cross could do more to support staff and
volunteers in their roles. The response rate from
volunteers in the latest survey (Autumn 2009) was
14% (or 3,482 volunteers) and it was carried out
by email and post. Some of the key findings are
highlighted below that relate to different aspects
of the volunteer experience.
Satisfaction
> Overall, 88% of responding volunteers agreed
that they were satisfied with the British Red
Cross as a charity to volunteer for. Across
all volunteers, 61% agreed strongly and 27%
agreed slightly with this.
> Refugee Services/ ITMS volunteers were most
likely to be satisfied at 96% and First Aid and
Emergency Response volunteers were least
likely at 85%. Those who had been
volunteering with the organisation for less
than 1 year or 1–2 years were also more likely
to agree (95% and 91% respectively). This
may reflect the different lengths of service
across the different services and activities.
> Overall, 96% of responding volunteers agreed
(strongly or slightly) that their work gave them
a sense of personal satisfaction. There was
little variation in this overall finding across the
different services.
Support from manager
> Overall, 85% of responding volunteers
agreed that their manager will usually act to
help them solve problems. This was highest
amongst Retail volunteers at 91% and
lowest amongst First Aid & Emergency
Response volunteers at 79%.
> 78% of all responding volunteers agreed
strongly or slightly that their manager creates
and supports opportunities for them to learn
and develop their skills. This was felt most
in Retail and Refugee Services (both 83%)
and least in First Aid & Emergency Response
(74%). This leads to the discussion around
development opportunities below.
Developmental opportunities
> 83% of all responding volunteers agreed that
the organisation is committed to providing
appropriate training and development for its
workforce. However, fewer (76%) agreed that
there are good opportunities for personal and
professional development within the
organisation.
> The Senior Management Team paper that
responded to the survey results indicated
that the above finding could imply career
development and training opportunities need
to be clearer and better facilitated and that
activities were planned to address this (within
Saving Lives, Changing Lives).

> The survey results may also indicate (alongside
a need for clearer information and access to
current opportunities) that existing
opportunities are not meeting the needs of
all volunteers, raising the question of what
opportunities these volunteers are seeking, and
how they align to the needs of the organisation
and the interests of our beneficiaries.
Feeling valued
> 83% of all responding volunteers felt that the
work they do is valued by the organisation.
This was highest in Refugee Services/ ITMS
(93%) and lowest in First Aid & Emergency
Response (80%).
> 87% of all respondents felt that they were
treated with respect by Red Cross staff and
volunteers, highest amongst Health and Social
Care, Refugee/ ITMS and Retail volunteers
(93%, 92%, 91% respectively) and lowest in
First Aid & Emergency Response (83%).
Communication
> 75% of all responding volunteers agreed that
the Red Cross does an excellent job of keeping
them informed about matters that affect them.
Refugee Services/ ITMS volunteers were most
likely to agree (85%) and First Aid &
Emergency Response volunteers least likely
(68%).
28 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
> The SMT response paper recommended
further investigation was required “to assess
what works well for different groups and
ensure the best approach is taken to suit the
different audience needs”.
> An organisation wide internal
communications review was carried out
at the beginning of 2011, the findings
of which will raise and address specific
communications issues in more detail.
3.2.2 A wealth of internal research
on volunteering
In addition to the Have Your Say survey, lots of
research has been (and is being) carried out locally
and nationally across the organisation gathering
volunteer views on their volunteering. Some of
these studies are broad and others focus
specifically on a certain group of volunteers (e.g.
young volunteers) or a particular element of the
volunteer experience (e.g. recruitment, or
representation). We have collated and analysed
over 70 sources of internal research and data
related to volunteering. A list of these reports and
projects that can be accessed (e.g. on redroom or
otherwise) is located in Appendix G.
The following 12 themes were identified from the
internal sources analysed relating to the focus of
recent internal studies and their findings:
> Flexibility
> Recognition & Appreciation
> Motivation
> Satisfaction
> Representation
> Engagement
> Relationships
> Training and accreditation
> Support
> Internal links across services
> External partnerships & links
> Raising awareness of British Red Cross
services and volunteering opportunities
A summary of some of the findings, related each
of the themes, is provided below.
A. Flexibility
A number of recent research projects have
addressed the issue of flexibility within the
volunteering experience at the British Red Cross.
Findings suggest that the flexibility of volunteer
opportunities is an increasingly important aspect
of the quality volunteering experience, in terms of
volunteering schedules and training. Flexible
approaches to volunteering allow people to
combine volunteering at the Red Cross with and
their employment or education. Hence, a lot of
the recent reports focussing on young volunteers,
in particular, highlight this aspect of the quality
volunteering experience.
Timing
The timing of volunteer opportunities needs to
be flexible to suit the diverse volunteer population
at the British Red Cross.
> 1 in 3 people (37%) found occasional
volunteering activities most appealing. These
were defined as opportunities available 5 times
a year (Attracting volunteers amongst the
general public, 2006).
> Research suggests that young volunteers
preferred not to volunteer in the evenings.
Those aged between 22 and 25 were also less
willing to give up time during their holidays
to volunteer. 15 to 17 year olds also preferred
not to volunteer on weekdays, but during
weekends instead (Young people and the
Red Cross – Here for good survey, 2010).

> With regard to young people, the Mystery
Shopping Survey. Responding to Young
People (2010) reported that volunteering
opportunities need to be accommodating in
order to take into account commitments by
providing flexible hours and training.
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 29
Volunteer choice at recruitment
Opportunities to experience a number of services
and roles within the British Red Cross allow
volunteers to make an informed choice before
deciding to contribute to a specific service.
> In Wales, since 2009, volunteer recruitment
under a generic role model has enabled greater
choice, allowing the volunteer to experience a
range of services (Volunteer report South West
Wales. Health & Social Care, 2010).
> In the most recent Mystery Shopping Survey.
Responding to Young People (2010) only 35%
of prospective youth volunteers felt they were
given sufficiently flexible opportunities.
Short term versus long term opportunities
There are many different types of volunteering
opportunities available within the British Red
Cross. Some recent internal research has explored
whether current styles of volunteering might
appeal to different groups of volunteers.
> Regular long–term volunteering opportunities
do not seem to attract volunteers, especially
young volunteers (Engaging with young
volunteers in Mid Scotland and Argyll,
understanding young person volunteer
participation, 2010).

> The organisation needs to design roles
and opportunities that fit the short term
commitment that people desire (Volunteer
fundraiser recruitment survey, 2010) with
the possible aim of converting the enjoyment
into longer term roles (Attracting
volunteers, 2006).
B. Recognition and appreciation
A great deal of internal research has addressed
the issue of whether volunteers within the British
Red Cross feel valued. Questions raised include
whether volunteers feel rewarded and recognised
by staff and beneficiaries. Appreciation seems
to be a key factor of quality volunteering –
one which motivates and retains volunteers to
continue fulfilling the priority of the Red Cross,
to support their beneficiaries.
How do volunteers feel?
Whilst the majority of volunteers feel appreciated
for their voluntary service, recognition is very
personal. Some volunteers don’t necessarily want
recognition and others do, but at different levels.
> Overall, volunteers feel rewarded for the
work they do, with UKO having a high
percentage of young volunteers (76%), who
feel that their ideas are recognised (Young
people and the Red Cross – Here for good
survey, 2010). Similar results are recorded in
the Volunteer satisfaction survey (Wales, 2010)
with 70% of respondents feeling their work
was appreciated.
> The majority of volunteers (60%) prefer to
receive recognition at a local level. National
recognition is increasingly attractive in 16–25
age groups with 35% of respondents
preferring this level of recognition (Review
of volunteer awards, 2007).
Issues for consideration
The following issues are specific aspects relating
to recognition and appreciation that have emerged
from a few research projects:
> Youth volunteers don’t always feel appreciated
by staff, 21% of young volunteers feel that
the Red Cross prefers older volunteers (Young
people and the Red Cross – Here for good
survey, 2010).
> Recognition was often felt to be lost under
the job title, for example, transport services
do a lot more than just drive (Making a
difference through volunteering – the impact
of volunteers who support and care for people
at home, 2006).
> Currently, recognition only occurs formally
after five years of service. Recommendations
suggest that the organisation needs to be
exploring other ideas in order to formally
recognise less than five years service (Volunteer
project, Lancs, Merseyside & Greater
Manchester, 2011; Review of volunteer
awards, 2007).
C. Motivation
In general, research relating to motivation has
focused on determining the primary reasons
for volunteering. Some studies have compared
these reasons across different groups by age and
ethnicity to see if motivations differ between
groups of people. Having established the primary
motivations, recommendations suggest that this
information could be used to target people in the
attraction and recruitment stage (Recruitment and
induction process in Northern Ireland, 2011).
Primary motivations
Many research studies cite the same primary
motivations, but there are lots of other factors
relating to motivation that are also mentioned.
> Altruism and progression relating to career
(for example accreditation and gaining new
skills) were the two motivations most
frequently cited by respondents throughout
30 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
the research (Young people and the Red
Cross – Here for good survey, 2010;
Attracting volunteers amongst the general
public, 2006; Refugee services – volunteer
experiences, London, 2009; Improving the
volunteer experience, Derby university study
for Derbyshire, Notts & Cheshire, 2010).

> Other aspects linked to volunteer
motivation include flexibility of volunteering
hours, freedom (Making a difference through
volunteering – the impact of volunteers who
support and care for people at home, 2006)
and access to events (Engaging with young
volunteers in Mid Scotland and Argyll.
Understanding young person volunteer
participation, 2010).
Differences in motivations
> There were no significant differences in
motivation factors by ethnic group for young
volunteers surveyed in 2010 (Young people
and the Red Cross – Here for good survey,
2010).
> Motivations of refugees to volunteer related
to integration into society, gaining acceptance
within a community and also as a protective
mechanism in order to escape negative
feelings (Refugee services – volunteer
experiences, 2009).
D. Satisfaction
There has been less research about the
satisfaction levels of volunteers, beneficiaries or
staff at the Red Cross. Satisfaction is undoubtedly
a key factor linked to the quality volunteering
experience, and it is affected by many stages of
the volunteer planning and support lifecycle.
Research shows that satisfaction levels of
volunteers and staff are relatively positive, but
there was less research relating to the satisfaction
levels of beneficiaries.
Volunteer, staff and beneficiary satisfaction
> The overwhelming majority of young
volunteers (90%) agree that their time with
the Red Cross is positive (Young people and
the Red Cross – Here for good survey, 2010).
> 86% of staff and 88% of volunteers stated
that they are satisfied with the Red Cross as
a charity to work for. (Have Your Say Survey,
2009).

> The Tell your story scheme, established in
Scotland, highlights how some services are
now capturing beneficiary satisfaction by
encouraging Red Cross service users to share
their experience, indicating aspects with which
they are satisfied (Excellence Awards, 2010).
E. Representation
Lots of research has questioned whether
volunteers feel they have opportunities to voice
their opinions and ideas in order to influence the
wider organisation. There is specific focus on the
improvement of volunteer councils, which were
set up across areas to provide a forum for
discussion and feedback.
Volunteer councils
Findings show that volunteer councils can be an
important resource to help ensure volunteers feel
represented within the organisation. However
there are a number of issues to address in order
for volunteer councils to achieve their potential.
> A recent survey in Wales highlighted a lack
of awareness and information surrounding
volunteer councils. 23% of volunteers feel
they know very little about them (Volunteer
satisfaction survey, Wales, 2010).
> Encouraging young people to engage. Just
41% of respondents in the Young people and
the Red Cross – Here for good survey (2010)
found volunteer councils accessible and
attractive.

> One suggested way to improve young
volunteers’ participation in existing volunteer
decision–making structures is to increase the
number of volunteer council meetings. Or
alternatively to enable young people to
congregate each month and have their
collective voice heard (Youth representation
and participation in decision making in the
British Red Cross, 2007).
> However, in a research study conducted in
2010 by Derby University students for the
Red Cross, the opportunity to influence
decision–making was seen as being one of
the less important factors in a quality
volunteering experience. The most important
factor, from this research was relationships
with peers and colleagues, followed by
relationship with manager and then learning
and development opportunities (Improving the
volunteer experience, Derby university study
for Derbyshire, Notts & Cheshire,
2010).
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 31
F. Engagement
Volunteer engagement is a theme that runs
through many of the internal research studies
which look at how effectively volunteers can
interact and participate within the British Red
Cross structures and services. There are many
communication channels in place across the
organisation, for example RedRoom and
newsletters, and a variety of research projects
have looked into the extent to which these
channels facilitate volunteer engagement.

RedRoom and the British Red Cross website
The internet is a key communication channel and
RedRoom is an online intranet space enabling
volunteer engagement through access to news,
research as well as various guidance and other
documents.
> If people want to find out about
volunteering opportunities, they are often
likely to go online, so there is a need to
ensure that everything is updated and correct
on the internet (Mystery Shopping Survey.
Responding to Young People, 2010).
However, it was felt that there is still a need
for improvements to information available
online (Mystery Shopping Survey. Responding
to Young People, 2010; Engaging Adults –
Red Cross positioning, 2006).
> Online engagement enables extensive support
from abroad, increasing communication links
and awareness (Volunteers Week 2010 project
evaluation).

> Respondents often stated they had issues with
accessing RedRoom or did not know how to
access the resources (Volunteer satisfaction
survey, Wales, 2010).
Other communication channels
Despite the rise in the profile of RedRoom and
website communication, other communication
channels still play an important role in facilitating
volunteer engagement.
> Communication channels, including Red Cross
Life, leaflets distributed to libraries and talking
to people in our shops, are also important to
spread information about the Red Cross
(Attracting volunteers amongst the general
public, 2006; Volunteer satisfaction survey,
Wales, 2010).
> A recommendation from the review of
volunteer councils (2010) was that the
newsletter should contain features on
volunteer council activities and incredible
service volunteers to aid area communication
(Review of volunteer councils, 2010).
Disengagement
Disengagement is an important issue relating
to the quality volunteering experience. It is
important to address the reasons for
disengagement issues, such as the time volunteers
might have to wait before their CRB check comes
back, in order to prevent low motivation and
dissatisfaction among volunteers, potentially
leading to low retention of volunteers.
> The delay to volunteering commencement,
due to external issues such as CRB checks,
can be addressed by offering new volunteers
opportunities to engage in British Red Cross
activities that don’t require a CRB whilst they
are waiting for clearance. This is important
for the volunteer’s feeling of belonging to the
organisation in the early days (Volunteer
report South West Wales. Health & Social
Care, 2010).
G. Relationships
Communication is an emerging theme
throughout several research projects. It is a broad
topic that encompasses many different areas,
including relationships. Research has attempted to
explore whether current relationships are effective
at facilitating communication between all
organisational layers at the British Red Cross.
Communication cascades
Regular communication and relationships are
perceived as being one of the most important
factors in a quality volunteering experience
(Volunteer satisfaction survey Wales, 2010;
Improving the volunteer experience, Derby
university study for Derbyshire, Notts &
Cheshire, 2010; After the floods: the lessons
for recovery, 2008).
32 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
> Contact between volunteers and their
manager was reported as being easy by 75%
of respondents (Volunteer satisfaction survey,
Wales, 2010).
> However, only 56% respondents felt they were
kept well informed about important changes
made within the organisation (Volunteer
satisfaction survey – Wales, 2010)

> Communication is the area that needs most
improvement, particularly regarding the local
coordinators’ and volunteers’ relationship
(Improving the volunteer experience, Derby
university study for Derbyshire, Notts &
Cheshire, 2010).
H. Training and accreditation
Training is an important aspect of the quality
volunteering experience, as training opportunities
enable volunteer development and relate to
volunteer recruitment and retention. There is
minimum training required for most volunteer
roles at the British Red Cross and some optional
or non–core training is also available. Research
focused on the length of time it takes volunteers
to become trained, accessibility and flexibility of
training opportunities, and volunteer feedback
relating to training.
Length of training
Developing the structure and improving the
efficiency of the initial recruitment, induction
and training process, and reducing the time it
takes to become an active volunteer to
approximately three weeks is a target in the
British Red Cross current strategy, Saving
Lives, Changing Lives. However, the length of
training and frequency of training sessions seem
to be inconsistent across the territories.
> 69% of volunteers were active within six
weeks although this length of time varied
across the different services. 73% of Retail
volunteers were active in less than three
weeks but Health and Social Care and
Refugee Services volunteers took slightly
longer, possibly due to checks and health
and safety factors (Volunteer recruitment
survey, 2011).
> In the volunteer experience development
research undertaken in Hampshire, Surrey
& the Isle of Wight (2011), some staff
expressed their issues with training were that
it covers too little and occurs infrequently.
Recommendations in other research have also
referred to the need for more regular training
(Volunteer recruitment survey, 2011).
Accessibility and flexibility
There are a number of factors to take into
consideration when organising training. Being
flexible to suit the trainees’ schedules and holding
training in accessible places were all recognised as
important issues to take into account. Evidence of
this and some of the underlying issues have been
brought out in recent internal research:
> Location of training needs to be flexible to
prevent transport issues (Volunteer recruitment
survey, 2011).
> Having a clear training programme tied
in with recruitment days and the start of
volunteering would ensure a maximum
attendance of volunteers at training (Volunteer
report South West Wales. Health & Social
Care, 2010).

> 87% of respondents to the Volunteer
satisfaction survey, Wales (2010) own a
computer at home. Hence, it was suggested
that transforming training modules into online
training modules would allow volunteers to
be flexible with training times.

> As part of training, and to prevent
disengagement, buddy systems are used to
bring volunteers on board before completion
of core training (Volunteer experience –
developmental research in Hampshire, Surrey
& Isle of Wight, 2011).
Volunteer views on their training
A lot of research shows that volunteers
seem to be happy with the training they have
received and cite training as a key part of the
volunteering experience. However, training was
not always portrayed in an enthusiastic light to
prospective volunteers.
> 68% of volunteers feel they have received
adequate training to support themselves in
their role (Volunteer satisfaction survey,
Wales, 2010).
> The second most important aspect of
volunteering is training (27% of respondents)
(Volunteer satisfaction survey, Wales, 2010 –
see Figure 6 below).
> When staff were contacted by potential young
volunteers (as part of a research project), just
36% of respondents reported that Red Cross
contacts were helpful and enthusiastic about
training opportunities (Mystery Shopping
Survey. Responding to Young People, 2010).
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 33
I. Support
A large amount of internal research has addressed
the question of whether volunteers within the
British Red Cross feel supported. Support is a key
aspect of good volunteer management.
Support to staff
Support to staff is often overlooked in research
relating to the quality volunteering experience,
but it is an integral part of the volunteer–staff–
beneficiary triangle and without it, staff would not
be able to work and manage volunteers effectively.
> Research also stressed the need to establish
a system of support to managers when a
volunteer decides to leave (Volunteer Exit
Pilot Report, 2009).
> A need to improve support given to volunteers
was highlighted in some research carried out
in Wales. Offering the Volunteer Management
Programme for staff was identified as a step
towards addressing this (Volunteer Satisfaction
Survey, Wales, 2010).
Support to volunteers
Volunteers should feel that they can talk to or
liaise with service co–ordinators or volunteer
advisors within their area. Most volunteers
generally do feel appropriately supported, but
there are a number of improvements still to
be made.
> The role of volunteer leaders needs to be
developed as it provides important support
and continuity when new staff members are
recruited to areas with high–turn over of staff
(Volunteer Healthcheck Pilot, Derbyshire,
Notts & Cheshire, 2010).
> There is concern that the role of Volunteer
Leaders is not elected (Volunteer experience
– development research, Hampshire, Surrey
and Isle of Wight, 2011).
> Support to young people needs to be
improved, especially within volunteer councils,
by establishing a buddy system (Review of
volunteer councils, 2010).

> Support to new volunteers was perceived
as being inconsistent (Diversity and Values
Project: Diversity Review, 2004).
> Most volunteers feel supported (Volunteer
Healthcheck Pilot, Derbyshire, Notts &
Cheshire, 2010) with 60% of respondents
citing support levels as good or excellent
(Volunteer satisfaction survey, Wales, 2010).
> Research highlighted that there is a fine
balance between enabling management
processes to support volunteers in a robust
FIGURE 6 IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF VOLUNTEERING (WALES, 2010)
0 10 20 30 40 50
MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT
NOT ANSWERED
SOCIAL OUTINGS
REGULAR MEETINGS
TRAINING
REGULAR COMMUNICATIONS
34 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
and streamlined way, while taking into account
that volunteers value the opportunity to use
their own judgement within a clear framework
(Making a difference through volunteering –
the impact of volunteers who support and
care for people at home, 2006).
Support to beneficiaries
Ultimately, providing high quality beneficiary
support is the principle aim of the British Red
Cross. It can be quite difficult to record and
measure this, and most research undertaken
about the quality volunteering experience relates,
not to beneficiaries, but to volunteers. However, a
research study carried out in 2006 looked at the
impact of volunteers who support and care for
people at home.
> Over 80% of service users feel that volunteer
support has improved their quality of life
(Making a difference through volunteering
– the impact of volunteers who support and
care for people at home, 2006).
> Two out of three volunteers emphasised that
the most important contribution they give to
the beneficiaries is emotional or personal
support – helping to reduce social isolation
(Making a difference through volunteering
– the impact of volunteers who support and
care for people at home, 2006).
J. Internal links across services
Links with other teams are essential to enable
correct and appropriate signposting for volunteers
and to promote good working relationships.
> Research highlights the need to develop
signposting mechanisms to teams in other
geographical locations when volunteers
relocate or if there are no voluntary
opportunities in a particular area (Healthcheck
Pilot, Derbyshire, Notts & Cheshire, 2010;
Volunteer experience – development research,
Hampshire, Surrey and Isle of Wight, 2010).
> It is recognised that ensuring the appropriate
response to a situation, emergency or
otherwise, relies on a developed partnership
between different service areas (After the
floods: the lessons for recovery, 2008).

> Volunteer bulletin boards were suggested
as a means to circulate information across
services so that managers don’t have to
circulate information to such large numbers of
volunteers (Volunteer project, Lancs, Mersey-
side & Greater Manchester, 2011).
K. External partnerships and links
Recent research has provided some insights into
which types of external organisations the British
Red Cross already has productive partnerships
and links, and explores areas where more
relationships could be fostered. There is
widespread recognition that the formation of
links between the Red Cross and external
organisations is a way of attracting volunteers
by raising awareness of the opportunities
available.
Schools and colleges
Schools and colleges are a valuable resource for
the British Red Cross, providing links with young
people and, through this, raising awareness of
volunteering opportunities. School and college
communities are also places where word of mouth
travels fast, thereby spreading information about
volunteering within the organisation.
> One in five young volunteers found out about
volunteering through school, work or college
(Young people and the Red Cross – Here for
good survey, 2010).
> Certain Retail services have established links
with schools which provide a constant flow
of young volunteers gaining experience and
volunteering in Red Cross shops (Engaging
with young volunteers in Mid Scotland and
Argyll. Understanding young person volunteer
participation, 2010).
Voluntary & community sector organisations
Contact with organisations that have links to
specific communities is valuable to promote
volunteering and widen participation amongst
British Red Cross volunteers.
> In order to improve diversity amongst
volunteers, initiating partnerships with
specific equality organisations could improve
recruitment of volunteers from ethnic
minority backgrounds (Diversity and Values
Project: Diversity review, 2004).
> Recommendations include improving the
links with external organisations which
reward short term volunteering goals such as
Millennium Volunteers’ Award and Duke of
Edinburgh Award (Young people and the Red
Cross – Here for good survey, 2010).
L. Raising awareness of British Red Cross
services and volunteering opportunities
Considerable amounts of research have
looked into the general public’s awareness
of the British Red Cross and the volunteering
opportunities available. Specific issues were
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 35
whether some services were better known
than others and whether perceptions of the
organisation differed across areas. Overall the
Red Cross is well known, but awareness of all
the services it offers is not always consistent.
Profile of the British Red Cross
The British Red Cross has a high profile and a
strong positive image (Engaging adults – Red
Cross positioning, 2006). However, research
indicates that improvements could be made to
dispel misconceptions surrounding the British
Red Cross.
> There is a public perception that the
British Red Cross is solely an international
organisation, and that its primary role is
providing international aid. People have
much less knowledge of the work the Red
Cross does within the UK (Engaging adults
– Red Cross positioning, 2006; Re–engaging
with First Aid trainers, 2007).
> Research highlighted that the misconception
of the British Red Cross as a Christian
organisation may make recruitment from
non-Christian communities more difficult
(Diversity involving Muslim youth, 2010).
This may link to suggestions that information
is lacking about the work of the Movement
and fundamental principles (Recruitment and
induction process, Northern Ireland, 2011).
Specific service profiles
Some Red Cross services have a higher profile
among the general public compared to others
and recommendations from research indicate
that increased advertising and publicity for these
services would be beneficial (Making a difference
through volunteering, 2006; Engaging Adults,
2006).
> Fundraising and First Aid services are
recognised by two in three members of the
general public (Attracting volunteers amongst
the general public, 2006).
> Willingness to volunteer in a particular
service does not necessarily correlate with
awareness of that service. Despite high interest
from respondents to provide home assistance,
there was low awareness of the British Red
Cross providing this service (Attracting
volunteers amongst the general public, 2006).
36 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 37
4.1 The beneficiary perspective
An important component of this study was the
beneficiary perspective – in effect the raison d’être
of the British Red Cross. The study sought out
beneficiary views on the quality of volunteering
(as users of this resource) at the Red Cross and
established the degree to which being supported
by a volunteer or staff member mattered to the
Red Cross’ beneficiaries.
Nine out of ten staff are confident that we
provide consistently good quality support to our
beneficiaries, but over a third (36%) report that
we don’t engage beneficiaries sufficiently. In other
words, we do not ask our beneficiaries enough
about their opinions in shaping and delivering
our services.
We interviewed 18 beneficiaries, who had accessed
a number of different services run by the British
Red Cross, including Refugee Services, Fire
Emergency Support Services (FESS), Care in the
Home support and First Aid courses to ask them
about their experiences and views on Red Cross
volunteers. Below we summarise beneficiary
views.
4 Research findings: Achieving quality
volunteering
38 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
4.1.1 Beneficiary views on volunteer
led services
The majority of interviewees were aware that the
British Red Cross service that they had accessed
was delivered by volunteers as opposed to paid
staff but said it didn’t matter to them whether
they received services from a volunteer or a staff
member as long as the individual was competent
at their job.
Some interviewees were aware of this because
of an existing knowledge of the Movement,
particularly in the case of refugee services where
beneficiaries were familiar with the Red Cross in
their home countries.
“For me, yes I thought they were [volunteers].
They should be because in a lot of Red Cross
[National Societies] there are a lot of people
who volunteer because there are a lot of people
who are in need. There are a lot of very good
people out there who come to volunteer at the
Red Cross because they have seen all the things
which are not very good to other humans.”
Beneficiary, Refugee Services
One respondent was aware of the Red Cross’
use of volunteers through their work in the fire
service.
Others had only become aware of the fact that
Red Cross services are delivered by volunteers
since becoming beneficiaries of Red Cross
support. In such cases, their contact with the
Red Cross had often come through a third party,
such as hospital referrals.
Of those interviewees that said it did matter to
them who delivered their service or provided
support, the main reason advanced was that they
thought it was a strength of the service to be run
by volunteers. Reasons for this included the fact
that people were giving up their time for free and
were motivated by a desire to help people. Very
few interviewees said that they thought there were
drawbacks of using volunteers to deliver services.
One interviewee suggested that volunteers might
be more likely to let you down. Another
interviewee felt that the State not the Red Cross
should be responsible for providing support
offered through FESS service.
4.1.2 Meaningful relationships
The feedback on Red Cross support and
services was extremely positive, with interviewees
highlighting the cheerfulness, willingness and a
‘can do approach’ of the volunteers they had been
in contact with as characteristics they particularly
valued.
“I think [the volunteer] was very kind.
Marvellous. She seemed as though she couldn’t
do enough for you if you wanted it doing. She
was a very nice person.” Beneficiary, Care in
the Home
“They’re great. I have one [volunteer] who I
consider the regular one... there are odd times
he’s not available but someone else is, and he’s
a darling as well... They all are. You have to
have a certain temperament to be a volunteer.”
Beneficiary, Care in the Home
“The tutor was very good...at talking to people
about their personal circumstances, situations
they might be in.” Beneficiary, Community
Based First Aid Participant
“...everything they do is done with ease.
Whether they are trained beforehand I really
don’t know. Perhaps it appears so to me but
I hadn’t thought about it before! But they are
all considerate. I’ve not come across anybody
who’s grumpy or anything, because they’re
there to help.” Beneficiary, Care in the Home
A strong theme that emerged from the interviews
with beneficiaries that accessed regular support
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 39
from the Red Cross was the importance of the
relationships they had developed with their Red
Cross volunteers and the bonds they had created.
‘Getting on well’, having somebody to look out
for you and building a sense of trust were all
highlighted as important aspects of the beneficiary
/volunteer relationship. Several interviewees said
they viewed their volunteers as friends.
One beneficiary said that although her volunteer
was due to stop visiting in an official Red Cross
capacity:
“..She’s still going to come around on her own
basis, as a friend. She has another job I think.”
Beneficiary, Care in the Home
Another interviewee reflected:

“You consider them as friends. They are – they
are friends. They’re there to help you, and help
you they do.” Beneficiary, Care in the Home
Feeling able to contact the volunteer directly
or the British Red Cross between visits if extra
support was required was also welcomed by
several interviewees.
4.1.3 Expectations of British Red Cross
volunteers
The majority of interviewees said the Red
Cross service had either met or exceeded their
expectations. Several people spoke about the role
the British Red Cross had played in filling a gap
or providing support that other organisations or
social networks were not able to:

“You can’t think clearly when everyone [e.g.
neighbours] is trying to sit you down and give
you a cup of tea. It is all well meaning but you
can’t think clearly already and it distracts you
from thinking about what you need to. So the
Red Cross provided a safe place to think.”
Beneficiary, FESS
“They leave you with information, the fact
they instantly saw the damage and got in touch
with people, they started the ball rolling… my
insurance had just lapsed 5 days ago. You’re
in a state of shock. They look at the problem;
they take the problem out of your hands and
put you in touch with people that can help.”
Beneficiary, FESS
One interviewee said they had they had expected
less from the first aid trainer who had facilitated
their course because they were not a paid staff
member and had been surprised by the volunteer’s
professionalism and knowledge as a result.
However, they did say that the trainer had not
been able to answer all the participant questions
(although he had checked the answers and got
back to them later as promised) and that if they
had been a paid staff member they may have
expected them to have all the answers to hand.
Many interviewees had no prior expectations
about what support from the British Red Cross,
with one interviewee commenting “...I took
nothing for granted.”
4.1.4 Motivation and hope for the future
A few interviewees mentioned that the experience
of coming into contact with the Red Cross had
made them think about volunteering themselves
or motivated them to become a volunteer. One
interviewee who had accessed refugee service
support and gone on to become a Red Cross
volunteer said that the tough experience they
had had as an asylum seeker and the help they
received had motivated them to help others in
that situation.
Finally, several interviewees spoke poignantly
about the difference that Red Cross volunteers
had made in their lives. The diversity of services
accessed by the interviewees meant that the nature
and length of support ranged from a few hours
contact to longer term support from the British
Red Cross. Re–occurring themes included hope,
support and a growing confidence. As one
attendee on a first aid course reflected:
“...I had an instance where I had to do CPR
for real (person died) and I said oh I won’t do
first aid ever again. And he (trainer) gave me
confidence to do it, I probably would now.”
Beneficiary, Community Based First Aid course
participant
Reflections from other British Red Cross
beneficiaries:
“...All this confidence is from Red Cross.
They build my hope. They build my
confidence. They build my ability to still
go on.” Beneficiary, Refugee Services
“...just having some company, someone to talk
to, made a difference. Not being able to get
out, it was someone to talk to.” Beneficiary,
Care in the Home
40 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
“...I would miss her [the volunteer], we’ve
created a bond. It gets lonely on your own all
day.” Beneficiary, Care in the Home
“I feel better equipped to deal with some of
the situations that might happen in the future
with the person I care for.” Beneficiary,
Community Based First Aid course participant
4.2 Volunteer motivations:
Staying on and leaving
Why volunteers volunteer
In this section we touch briefly on the research
findings around volunteer motivations at British
Red Cross. Reasons for volunteering at the Red
Cross are varied and often very personal, as are
reasons for leaving. We asked volunteers what
were the benefits they got from volunteering for
the British Red Cross.
The top 3 things most commonly mentioned
by volunteers were:
> Satisfaction of helping people
> Developing skills and experiences
> Meeting new people & making friends
Other gains mentioned include:
> Building confidence
> Keeping the mind active
> Giving a sense of purpose (or structure) to life
> Doing something worthwhile (and linked to
the fact the Red Cross is highly regarded)
We asked volunteers how strongly they felt
connected to the organisation in terms of the
local centre or place where they volunteer, the
service or activity that they are doing, the
national organisation of the Red Cross, and
the international movement.
> 92% of volunteers felt very or quite strongly
connected to the service or activity they are
doing
> 86% felt very or quite strongly connected to
the local centre of place where they volunteer
> 63% of volunteers felt very or strongly
connected to the national organisation of the
British Red Cross
> 52% felt very or strongly connected to the
International Movement of Red Cross and
Red Crescent Societies
Younger volunteers felt more connected than older
volunteers to their local centre. Feeling connected
to the International Movement of Red Cross and
Red Crescent Societies was more likely amongst
females (55%) than males (45%), and as age
increased, so did strength of feeling of
connection with the International Movement
of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Why volunteers leave
456 volunteers in our survey completed a full
interview. Of these 344 were current volunteers
and 112 were former volunteers (25%).
We asked the 112 leavers identified
4
in the
volunteer survey what their main reasons were
for stopping volunteering. Personal reasons (such
as a change in family circumstances), and health
reasons were the most commonly reported, both
cited by 1 in 5 volunteers (21%). This was
followed by volunteers reporting that they just no
longer had the time to volunteer (13%), or that
they took up paid employment (13%), or that
they moved out of the area (12%).
7% of all leavers said that they stopped due to
being dissatisfied with their experience of
volunteering. Dissatisfaction stemmed from a
variety of mostly unrelated reasons – including
differing role expectations, differences with
staff, volunteering pressures.
4.3 The 6 key elements and 3
enablers of quality volunteering
at the British Red Cross
The study identified six key elements and three
enablers of a quality Red Cross volunteering
model. The six key elements are:
1. Recruiting, retaining and integrating
volunteers that are best suited to carrying out
the work of the British Red Cross
2. Flexible deployment of volunteers – tailored
to their skills and responsive to Red Cross
delivery needs
3. Building supportive relationships between staff
and volunteers and amongst volunteers
4. Ensuring accessible development opportunities
for volunteers to learn and develop their skills
5. Embracing diversity and creating opportunities
for engaging with a diverse workforce
6. Achieving consistency in our standards to
enable quality volunteering
4 42% of the former volunteers had left in the past year, 25% left 1–2 years
ago, 12% left 3–5 years ago, 14% left 6–10 years ago and 6% left 11
years or more ago.
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 41
The three enabler elements are:
1. An accurate and up to date volunteer
knowledge base
2. Appropriate resourcing
3. Creating more and better ways of sharing
learning and good practice relating to
volunteering
In the section which follows we outline for
each element the successes, challenges and
recommendations for building on good practice
as identified by volunteers, staff and
beneficiaries.
4.3.1 Recruiting, retaining and
integrating volunteers that are best suited
to carrying out the work of the British
Red Cross
Volunteers and staff identified the need for
having efficient and timely recruitment processes
which include forward planning, having clearly
identified mutual expectations upfront,
selection of the most suitable volunteers to deliver
Red Cross’ business guided by our fundamental
principles and values, and ensuring volunteers are
quickly integrated into the context and content of
their work, as well as being made aware of Red
Cross expectations, values and the Fundamental
principles.
Successes and good practice
Four main successes were identified under
this theme:
> We are good at attracting volunteers. Staff
and volunteers felt this was largely due to the
recognisable name and brand of the Red
Cross was as well as the variety of attractive
opportunities and worthwhile volunteer roles
on offer.
5
This was summed up by one
volunteer adviser:
“The Red Cross is in a very fortunate position
of really not having to try very hard to recruit
new volunteers.”
It was, however, noted that there are
exceptions. Fundraising staff reported that
some of their roles were difficult to attract
volunteers into. As one member of staff
commented “nobody really has a passion for
collecting with a bucket in supermarkets”.
Location also had an influence, as well as
specific depots within some services that are
quieter or where the work can be a bit isolated
and so not as enjoyable for volunteers.
> The current focus in the strategy, Saving
Lives, Changing Lives, on speeding up the
recruitment process was largely welcomed
and considered as necessary. As one staff
member summed this up:
“There is a lot of focus on [recruitment] about
speeding it up and making it better. People
now take it seriously and respond quickly
to enquiries and move through the process
quicker.” Staff member
> Some Areas and services can provide early
opportunities for volunteers to observe,
shadow or buddy up with other volunteers/
staff. This is proving especially valuable in
enabling volunteers to become active early
on in their recruitment journey.
“With Event First Aid I went out as an
observer and in hindsight I learned more
doing that and going through the course
slowly. The observing was critical.” Volunteer
> The majority of volunteers and staff agreed
that clear information is provided to new
volunteers when they start volunteering with
regard to:
> the expectations of volunteers in their roles
(88% volunteers:82% staff)
5 However, note that the recognisable name was not felt to be specifically
linked to publicity campaigns. On the contrary, the lack of general
awareness of British Red Cross services was a frustration raised by
many volunteers. General public awareness of what British Red Cross
does was perceived as low & volunteers expressed a need to shout
more about what we do.
42 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
> any compulsory training requirements
(85% volunteers:74% staff)
> the types of volunteer opportunities
available (83% volunteers:79% staff)
> the recruitment process (83%
volunteers:70% staff)
Challenges to overcome
The main challenges identified by staff and
volunteers were:
> Speeding up the recruitment process, while
very welcome and necessary, was identified
as quite challenging in practice. Some staff
and volunteers reported that it is still
early days:
> Staff in many Areas reported having
very lengthy, disjointed recruitment
processes with too much bureaucracy/
paperwork. Maintaining contact with
volunteers while everything gets
processed was felt to be difficult.
> There was a strong call for the
recruitment paperwork to be simplified.
Staff felt frustrated at how out of date the
current forms are and expressed a strong
desire to condense the information into
fewer forms.

> There was notably a lot of developmental
work going on by staff in the Areas to
implement new, slicker recruitment
processes in order to comply with the new
national target of recruiting in three weeks.
However, differing Area volunteer support
infrastructures was reported as a challenge
to achieving this.
> Retention in the early stages from being
recruited to the initial training and early
deployment stages was reported by some
staff as challenging.
> There was agreement on the difficulty of
keeping volunteers interested while they are
‘hanging around’ either waiting for training
or waiting for the CRB checks to come back.

“We had an influx of 40 volunteers from
a recruitment drive and after the time–
consuming process we only got 6 who
stayed with us.” Staff member
> Two thirds of volunteers surveyed (66%)
agreed that they were keen to do more in the
period between being recruited and waiting
for the CRB and reference checks to come in.
> There was also a perception that some
volunteers opportunistically access training
to boost their CVs, not because they want to
improve their skills to support the Red Cross.
High attrition rates mean that rather
significant staff time can go into recruitment
with minimal outcomes.
“We’ve had volunteers who just do it for the
first aid qualification because it looks good on
their CV. They’re on our list as volunteers but
you don’t hear anything from them, they just
disappear after they get their qualification.”
Staff member
“It’s a mixture. We’ve had volunteers come
through who have had misunderstanding of
what’s expected of them. They haven’t realised
how much they will be expected to go out on
events. They want to be trained in first aid
and they don’t realise that they’re expected at
events. Sometimes it’s not explained so well.”
Volunteer Chair
> The study identified divided staff opinions
and confidence around selecting volunteers:
> Some staff felt torn between the need to
recruit as many volunteers as possible who
present for recruitment (i.e. a non–selective
approach) and the need to select volunteers
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 43
who are best suited to the identified areas
of work and who with training can be sup-
ported to deliver a quality service – in other
words, introducing some selection criteria.

“I feel that I should not say no. I don’t feel
you can turn them away because they’re a
volunteer and you should find them something
to do.” Staff member
> For some there was felt to be an unspoken
assumption that managers know how to
recruit and select volunteers.
“This is an area we could improve on. I’m not
sure we are confident enough to say we don’t
need you and how we deal with that. That
might be the reason why volunteers don’t stay
or why we have problems later on.”
Staff member
> Furthermore, some staff reported that
certain services have a culture of the more
hands on deck the better. So a supported
shift in culture might be needed in order to
understand the consequences and benefits
of selecting our volunteers alongside
guidance on when it is appropriate to say
no as well as tips on how to do this
effectively.
> Volunteer planning appears to be reactive
rather than proactive and done on what was
described as a fairly ad hoc basis by individual
services when the need arises:
> Strategic long–term planning ahead for
volunteering was something staff felt was
a big challenge across the organisation
although the extent to which they felt this
affected the day to day delivery of their
service varied.
> Staff reflected largely on the shorter–term
planning that they needed to do to keep
their services up and running. The ability to
carry out this more operational short–term
planning was perceived as very different
according to the nature of the service,
summarised below (based on reflections
from service co–ordinators and
managers on the operational needs
in delivering services):
1. Services needing a steady flow of regular
volunteers: Planning was generally not
seen as an issue although constant
monitoring needed to ensure the service had
enough capacity to run well. Staff described
being organised as the most important
factor and knowing when gaps might arise
in order to be able to recruit and train in
time to fill these.
2. Contracted services or services with clear
targets and needs: Planning was seen as
essential and often requiring a targeted
recruitment campaign for specific contracts.
Staff in such services reported that they can
plan effectively due to the clear knowledge
of what is needed and in which locations,
hence providing the ability to break the
service down into the number of hours and
volunteers needed to deliver the work.
However, the following situations were
reported as potentially challenging by some
volunteer advisers:
“Running contracted work with volunteers
with no contingency of staff should
volunteers decide they do not wish to do
something”.
“Thinking things through, i.e. bidding for
volunteer delivered contracts and then not
being able to fulfil them due to ‘not seeing
the bigger picture’.”
Longer–term planning was noted as more
difficult as there is not always much prior
warning of the contracts that come out, and
the outcome of the work we do bid for isn’t
always known that far in advance.
3. Services needing lots of volunteers on a
continual rolling basis: Planning was seen
as more problematic and challenging. These
services weren’t always necessarily driven
by specific targets.
Improving practice
Participants identified the following main areas
for improvement:
> Better linkages (between the Area
volunteering team, service coordinators,
Learning & Development) for joint planning
on recruitment and initial training:
> While this joining up is taking place, due
to the fact that a lot of the volunteering
teams or staff supporting volunteering in
the Areas are relatively newly formed, the
structures, responsibilities, relationships
and support processes are also still very
much being developed. It is recognised that
this takes time to create, nurture and embed
44 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
across large Areas and with varied ways
of working between services and activities.
> Volunteering needs to be planned and
monitored and refreshed as needed. There
is a need to ensure that:
“…volunteering factors are considered when
a new service is being planned or a service is
being changed, developed or withdrawn.”
Volunteer Adviser
> Clear setting of expectations upfront. The
data suggests a need to ensure, as part of the
induction process, that the expectations from
staff and volunteers of each other in their
respective roles are clearly spelt out and
understood:
“It’s about striking that balance between our
needs and what they would like to do, and
working out how that fits together… and
ensuring this is understood by all.”
Staff member
> Smarter, better and faster integration of new
volunteers into their volunteering experience
and ethos:
> 72% of staff felt volunteers’ time and skills
could be better used in the period between
being recruited and waiting for CRB and
reference checks (and, as noted earlier, 66%
of volunteers were keen to be engaged
during this period).

> This recommendation is also linked to the
need to clearly define mutual expectations.
Volunteers need to quickly enter into the
spirit and routine of their work in the
context of the British Red Cross’ ethos.
The roles of volunteers and staff in jointly
identifying possible ways forward are
captured in the quote which follows:
“Maybe we would bring in experienced
volunteers as mentors (available, willing, able
and on–side) in that earlier part. It would be
a role they are trained to do and with which
they would be clear.” Staff member
4.3.2 Flexible deployment of volunteers:
tailored to their skills and responsive to
our delivery needs
Volunteers and staff identified the need for flexible
deployment to maximise opportunities to support
our beneficiary base. This includes recognising
volunteers’ existing skills and providing
opportunities for their use, where appropriate, in
order to optimise the deployment of these skills.
Successes and good practice
The British Red Cross was seen to be doing well
in two main areas:
> In many Areas there is a concerted effort to
make the most of our current volunteers.
There were a number of good examples
(particularly from Retail) demonstrating
how knowing the skills and interests of our
volunteers keeps them engaged and works to
the benefit of the organisation. Staff noted
that this is an easier accomplishment for
some services, particularly those operating in
smaller teams who are, as a result, more able
to easily engage with their volunteers.
“Sometimes with a volunteer they bring their
own skills and bring something completely
new and different, and a breath of fresh air to
the shop and you can hone in on that and it’s
maybe not something you’ve thought about
before but you suddenly see something in
somebody and there’s a whole new avenue.”
Staff member
> The British Red Cross has a major
opportunity to re–engage with and bring
back former volunteers:
> Nearly two–thirds (64%) of former
volunteers surveyed said they would
consider volunteering for the British
Red Cross at some point in the future.
> Some staff spoke of this potential in
the group discussions and saw real
advantage in ensuring the door was left
open to volunteers when they stopped
volunteering to enable them to come
back when their circumstances change.
“To reactivate a lapsed volunteer would be
a lot faster and easier than it is to bring in
a brand new person. Being able to engage
with previous volunteers is a fantastic
opportunity for us in term of economies
of scale and resources.” Staff member
Challenges to overcome
Staff and volunteers identified the following issues
as needing focus:
> Deploying volunteer skills effectively across the
British Red Cross. This doesn’t happen with
ease in all services:
> Over one–third of volunteers surveyed felt
that they have skills and experience they
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 45
are not currently using in their roles that
they could contribute to the organisation.
This was more likely to be felt by male
volunteers, younger volunteers and those in
Event First Aid (EFA), Community Based
First Aid (CBFA) and Emergency Response
(ER). It was less likely to be reported by
Retail volunteers.
“We need to recognise that people come with a
lot of competencies and skills. And we should
be able to better recognise that.” Operations
Director
> Low use of APEL (Accreditation of Prior and
Experiential Learning). Some volunteers don’t
require training in some subject areas because
they come with the necessary skills. This
should, but does not always, enable quick
deployment. As one volunteer trainer
remarked:
“We’ve tended not to do it [APEL], because
with the amount of paperwork it can be easier
to do the course. But that’s not the right
attitude to take.” EFA Volunteer Trainer
> A need to ensure training is relevant and
necessary. Over one quarter of volunteers
(28%) agree that some of the training they
were required to undertake was not really
necessary (Retail volunteers were more likely
to agree with this; EFA volunteers were least
likely to agree).
> Limited coordination across services. The data
suggests a potential appetite for volunteering
across services:
> Over a third (37%) of volunteers (who
only volunteer for one service) reported
that they might be interested in
volunteering for more than one service.
However, the information isn’t always
known about. 30% (of all responding
volunteers) were not aware of other
volunteering opportunities at the British
Red Cross.
“I find co–ordination in the [local area]
is great but where it falls down is talking
between the services.” Volunteer Chair
> Staff were keen to tap into a range of
volunteers when needed but barriers were
perceived to be in place and they did not
always know how to go about tapping into
this group.
“There are other services that we don’t know
about with people that may, in an emergency,
come and help us.” Staff member
Improving practice
To improve practice four main areas were
identified, relating directly to the challenges
outlined above:
> Developing our mechanisms for capturing
volunteers’ skills. The need to have a good
centralised, up–to–date and accessible
knowledge and information on our
volunteers (which they wish to share with the
organisation) is clearly indicated in this study.
> Increasing the use of APEL. Staff and
volunteer recruiters and trainers need an
enhanced understanding of the processes
and responsibilities associated with APEL.
> Increasing the flexibility and knowledge
of deployment opportunities across services:
> The majority of staff (87%) believe that
volunteers should be free to move from one
role to another if they wish to. This was
seen as an important way of optimising the
skills available to us as an organisation at
any point in time and for any arising need,
as indicated in the following quote:
“Volunteering that can be responsive to
whatever the need happens to be on that
particular Tuesday morning in which ever
geographical patch I need it. Not tied up into
service boxes as we have it at the moment.”
Operations Director
46 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
> Providing clarity on our organisational
position on deployment (and communicating
this accurately):
> Over a quarter of the volunteers surveyed
(28%) did not feel that they could move
from one role to another and felt limited to
one specific service/part of the organisation.

> Having a bank of deployable volunteers
from right across our services would
certainly enhance our capacity to respond
where the need is indicated; there is also
a corresponding appetite among some
volunteers as the following quote indicates:
I’m a new volunteer and I want to get first aid
experience, but down the line I would like to
get involved in other things but I don’t know
how to work towards getting involved in
that.” Volunteer
4.3.3 Building supportive relationships
between staff and volunteers and amongst
volunteers
The need to build supportive relationships
emerged as one of the most significant elements
for quality volunteering at the Red Cross. Staff
and volunteers felt it was crucial to have access to
support when needed, that they feel recognised,
appreciated and valued in their work, and that
we have effective mechanisms to enable volunteers
to express their views, feel heard, responded to
and represented. Effective engagement, free
flowing information and overall good
communication were clearly highlighted by all in
this study as prerequisites for quality volunteering.
Successes and good practice
The British Red Cross’ strengths in this regard
were perceived to be as follows:
> The overwhelming majority of volunteers feel
trusted to do their work.
> 97% of volunteers felt they were trusted
to carry out their role effectively
> 81% of staff agreed that they trust
volunteers to carry out their role effectively
> Being valued was important to volunteers and
the majority felt that they were valued by staff:
> 90% of volunteers in the survey reported
feeling valued by staff. The importance of
this was highlighted by one volunteer in the
following quote:
“Red Cross staff look after volunteers. If you
weren’t getting recognised then some people
would not want to do it, but you do get
recognised.” Vounteer
Note that where this was not felt to be present,
it seemed to relate to low engagement and the
non–visibility of some managers (see section
on engagement under challenges).
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 47
> Almost all staff (99%) reported that they
value the work of Red Cross volunteers,
and 85% of staff said they felt valued by
volunteers.
> Note also that 29% of volunteers felt that
staff seemed more valued than volunteers in
the organisation, and this was more likely
to be felt by longer serving volunteers. At
the same time, over a quarter (26%) of staff
felt that volunteers seem more valued than
staff in the organisation.
> Feeling appreciated by our beneficiaries.
Many volunteers stressed that helping our
beneficiaries and seeing their appreciation
was “second to none”.
“I love it because you get so many people
coming in and they are so grateful.” Volunteer
“I get great satisfaction seeing the gratitude on
passenger’s faces – a big smile. They praise the
service because they didn’t realise we provide
the service.” Volunteer
There’s nothing to beat the feeling when we
can finally get a tracer message back or help
a destitute refugee.” Volunteer
Significant levels of positive feedback
were received from beneficiaries on their
appreciation for the support provided
(see previous section 4.1).
> The majority of volunteers felt they had
access to support for their volunteering:
> 89% of volunteers felt that they can access
support when they need it.

> The data suggests the support may come
from various sources (both staff and
volunteers) and may not necessarily be
formally structured. (Over a quarter of
volunteers reported not receiving feedback
on their performance).
> Support received from fellow volunteers
was seen as very important.
“It comes back to that family sense, you do get
to make friends and we’re all in the same boat
and that kind of camaraderie is supportive. I
know if I had a bad experience [the volunteer
leader] is there and all the other volunteers
are there to talk about it.” Volunteer

> A range of methods to motivate and build
relationships with volunteers were reported by
staff including getting to know your volunteers
as individuals, bringing volunteers together for
coffee mornings or informal meetings, sharing
management information and creating specific
support roles for volunteers to support other
volunteers.
> The new volunteer representations guidance
published early in 2011 was welcomed by
some chairs as progressive and helpful.
Specific focus group discussions were held with
volunteer chairs and many examples of good
practice were highlighted. Some of these
experiences are noted below:
> Relationships between operations
directors and chairs were seen as key.
Some chairs reported that being invited to
the AMTs worked very well to hear first
hand what is happening, what is working,
what are the challenges and what is being
planned. (Note that other chairs feel they
have to push to get invited to their AMTs
or are restricted if they work full time.)
> Some volunteer chairs or council members
were invited to sit on interview panels for
staff posts which was welcomed. (Note that
others reported that they weren’t always
even told when new staff had joined.)
> Some proactive chairs saw the need to
promote the council more to volunteers
and reported various methods of doing so
as well as getting involved in actions and
activities where needed:
– Spending a day with different SMs to
get an idea of what all volunteers do, in
order to be able to better represent them
– Ringing joiners after a few months to
welcome them and tell them about the
council
– Carrying out volunteer audits and exit
interviews to get a more accurate grasp
of volunteer numbers and a better
understanding of volunteer retention.
Challenges to overcome
Volunteers and staff identified the following areas
for focus:
> Engaging with volunteers well was reported
as a challenge by some staff and volunteers:
> This was most prominent in services with
large numbers of volunteers

48 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
“There is an issue with the number of staff.
There is a lot of work to be done by very few
people, so everything is quite manic.”
Volunteer
> Geography and the size of some of the
Areas or regions that staff cover was also
considered by some staff and volunteers to
be a barrier to engaging with volunteers,
especially where managers are spread thinly
across an Area and were therefore unable
to provide bespoke support.
“Our problem wasn’t with the line manager
herself but with the system. She didn’t have
time to get round all of the areas in the time
allocated, so we never saw her.” Volunteer
“The geography and sheer size of the area
[is a challenge] along with the demographics,
especially the rurality of much of [the area].”
Volunteer Adviser.
> A volunteer chair highlighted what they
saw to be a link between poor or low
engagement and feeling valued.
“I think we lack support and management
and I’m not sure how to improve it. I think
we need to engage with people. We are losing
people because we are not engaging with them.
After 6 months they say no one contacted me.
They don’t feel respected or valued or they
lose interest.” Volunteer Chair
> It would appear from the data that
while volunteers may feel valued in their
individual relationships with their
immediate manager, their relationships or
engagement with senior managers may be
quite different. The seeming contradiction
between feeling trusted and not feeling
engaged was aptly captured by one
volunteer (talking about senior
management):
“No one for three to four years has contacted
us…don’t seem to care or not…It would be
nice if there was a bit more appreciation. They
give you the keys to lock up so they must trust
you.” Volunteer
> Consultation was reported by some
volunteers as being variable which sometimes
led to volunteer frustration. This was also
linked to good engagement:
> Many volunteers (4 out of 10) reported
that they would like more opportunities
to express their views. In the group
discussions, many volunteers reported
not really knowing or understanding the
role of the volunteer council.
> Volunteer councils also expressed some
dissatisfaction at being consulted when
things have already been decided. Wider
consultation was called for when making
decisions on matters that affect volunteers,
in particular when making commitments
to deliver volunteer–run services. The need
to involve people at the conceptualisation
stage was prominent.
“I was on the volunteer council for five years
and stopped as I had enough. I don’t think
it does anything from my experience, except
organise two meetings per year. We were either
told what had already been decided or told it
was not our business. We had problems
and we felt that if we were not involved as
a volunteer council in dealing with this, then
what are we for?” Volunteer
> Barriers to the transfer/flow of information –
staff and volunteers felt that the free–flow of
information does not always happen readily:
> Particularly related to services with large
numbers of volunteers, such as EFA,
for example, the data suggests an
ineffectiveness of the cascade system in
sharing information. In these cases, staff are
dependent on lead volunteers and have little
control over what is disseminated to the
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 49
larger volunteer body as this quote
illustrates:
“I’m supposed to have 200 volunteers but
I’m only allowed to communicate with 8 of
them and those 8 people choose what they
disseminate out. Which is why I can’t get 7
first aiders for a Saturday afternoon.”
Staff member
> In some instances, volunteer leaders
were seen to act as gatekeepers to their
volunteers. Staff and volunteers mentioned
the limitations of this volunteer model,
clearly not working for some services and
in need of some expansive thinking.
“A lot of leaders keep their group close to their
chest. Use them for their events. Transparency
is important in communicating direct to each
volunteer. Cascade systems break down as
soon as one person doesn’t pass on the
information.” Staff member
“Leadership of volunteers who run groups is
very variable. First impressions can be crucial
in volunteers deciding to stay or go. Poor
leadership can result in losing volunteers.”
Volunteer
> The centre structure was recognised
as essential for the co–ordination and
support of volunteers (particularly in EFA),
for passing on communication messages,
keeping volunteers in the loop and feeling
valued as well as a route to training and
support sessions. Hence, the data clearly
emphasises that good information must
flow right across the board and that this
is critically dependent on the relationships
between staff and volunteer leaders. It also
depends on having leaders who have good
communication skills and are working in
alignment with staff.
> Dealing with inappropriate behaviour:
> This was seen as a most challenging
and sensitive area by staff, especially
regarding what to do when behaviour is
less than ideal, as the following quotes
illustrate:
“We are scared of managing volunteers
because they have given up their free time
to be there. If they are behaving
inappropriately we should not be scared
tosay to you are not fit for the role.”
Staff member
“We are not tough enough with some poor
behaviour, really risky to the organisation.”
Staff member
> Disciplinary procedures were reported
to be extremely time–consuming and
because of this discouraging to staff to
pursue. Furthermore, nearly a third of all
staff (30%) agreed that the management
structures at the Red Cross are not
supportive of staff who challenge
inappropriate behaviour from volunteers.
> Some staff did note that things were
improving where volunteering teams in the
Areas were able to offer at least some level
of support (and a critical sounding board)
in carrying out CICs (Complaints, Issues
and Concerns) although more support in
this aspect would be appreciated.
“Volunteer managers are often quite unsure
about certain things and need more guidance
on things like de–selection.” Staff member
> Resistance to change was something both staff
and volunteers noted as a huge obstacle to
building stronger teams and moving forward
together:
> Staff reported finding it very difficult to
handle problems that arise from negative
attitudes towards the changes that
happened a long time ago as well as
instigating changes to the way we do
things today.
“The problems I deal with stem from
organisational changes 10 years ago… we have
so much going on, dealing with problems over
a decade old and they have not been resolved.”
Staff member
“We have some people who are doing
fantastic work, I can’t say a negative word
about what they are doing out there in the field
because they are brilliant, but their attitude to
the organisation and changes within it are
detrimental to the organisation as a whole and
the lack of respect for management. When I’m
trying to instigate changes, and I’m fully
supportive of the changes that are coming,
I get a huge amount of negative backlash and
actual abuse. I’ve been vilified for bringing in
changes.” Staff member
> Some lead volunteers expressed concern
about not being allowed to do certain roles
that they perceived to be the preserve of
50 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
staff. They felt there had been a growing
divide between staff and volunteer roles,
resulting in them feeling pushed out.
“I loved doing the co–ordination of
volunteers… I’d do the risk assessments,
contacts. Nowadays I’m not allowed to do
any of that – I’m not sure what my duty is.”
Volunteer
Another volunteer reflected on this challenge:
“I can see both sides of it – I understand the
frustrations. The organisation is so big and we
have a duty of care, so have to know what is
going on and who is doing what – it is a dif-
ficult balance. I’m hoping the balance will get
better. These things take a long time.”
Volunteer
> The current recognition and awards system
was seen to place too much emphasis on length
of service over and beyond the content and
impact of the individual’s contributions. Some
staff felt it needed reviewing:
“The system is geared up to support the ones
who have been here a long time….It is about
supporting those who have been here a long
time rather than being fresh and dynamic and
marketing towards the young generation, who
are our future.” Staff member
Improving practice
Areas for improving practice were identified as
follows:
> Developing leadership and coaching skills for
staff and lead volunteers:
> More than half of volunteer leaders (59%)
felt that for volunteer managers, leadership
and coaching skills were more important
than supervisory and management skills.
“The more we take an employment type
approach to managing volunteers, the less
successful we are.” Operations Director
> Staff acknowledged that volunteers have a
wide range of different needs and desires
regarding development and that sometimes
unpicking these required a certain skills
“There’s a skill in recognising the potential
in people, which I think is quite hard and
that’s about training us to listen and find
out what makes them tick and they go on a
journey.” Staff member
> Providing specific guidance and training for
staff and volunteers regarding support to
volunteers and relationship building:
> Nearly half of all staff (43%) reported that
they would like more support in their role
of managing volunteers.
> Staff expressed a need for support in key
areas including: conflict management,
managing culture change, dealing with
inappropriate behaviour and de–selection,
counselling skills (mentioned in retail in
particular as they take on a range of
individuals with varying support needs).
> Developing a more explicit and supported
pathway to becoming a volunteer leader:
> Over a third of volunteers (34%) not
currently leaders reported being interested
in becoming a leader in the future. This
appetite increased with age.
> Staff and volunteers wanted clear
volunteer role descriptions, clear guidance
and expectations regarding roles with a
transparent selection process for people
interested in the role, as well as proper
training, skills development and overall
support.
“It’s about getting the right people to be
that person [volunteer leader] to support
and motivate people.” Staff member
> Almost half of volunteer leaders (49%)
surveyed expressed an interest in
undertaking a professionally accredited
training course in volunteer management.
> Greater engagement and involvement of
interested volunteers in staff forums. There
is demonstrable good practice in some Areas
regarding the engagement and involvement of
volunteers in staff forums such as Area
Management Teams (AMTs). The findings
from this study suggest that greater
interaction between volunteers (who wish
to do so) and staff (including those not directly
managing or working with the volunteers) is
desirable and should become more of the
norm at the Red Cross, thereby contributing
to a break down of perceived differences
and organisational preferences.
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 51
4.3.4 Ensuring accessible development
opportunities for volunteers to learn and
develop their skills
Staff and volunteers highlighted the importance
of having a range of development opportunities
to suit individual volunteer and organisational
needs and ensuring that these opportunities are
accessible to all volunteers who want and
need them.
Successes and good practice
> Training and skills development within the Red
Cross were seen to be very successful and were
perceived as a real benefit of volunteering at
the British Red Cross. The quality of training
was rated highly – 91% of volunteers reported
that the training they have received has been
of good quality.
“Training springs to mind... that is something
the Red Cross is very hot on.” Volunteer

“Excellent training, fantastic trainers,
passionate about their roles and teach in
a fun way.” Volunteer
“I think we provide top rate training in
everything from presentation skills to
facilitation skills to first aid, obviously, and
manhandling. I think we’ve got amazing
training on offer to be honest.” Staff member
Challenges to overcome
The study identified three challenges in this
theme area:
> Accessibility of training courses. Accessing
training was not always possible, and this was
seen to be due to a number of factors. For
example, the co–ordination/communication
of training taking place; a limited numbers
of trainers (and a lack of trainer courses to
increase this pool); certain restrictions on
running courses; and course timings not being
suitable for some volunteers.
> A need for greater clarity on how to progress
as a volunteer:
> Nearly half of all responding volunteers
(49%) wanted more information on how
to progress as a volunteer.
> Over half (54%) of volunteers agreed that
gaining accreditation through volunteering
was important to them. Younger volunteers
and volunteers in EFA and ER were most
likely to feel this way.
> Staff also observed that a potential future
challenge for the organisation lies in the
increasing need for specialist skills in our work
and from our volunteers and thinking ahead
in terms of how we sustain and support that.
What are the implications on supporting and
managing these more specialised volunteers?
52 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
As the quote below stresses:
“There is a trend ... that we are increasingly
needing a resource that is more knowledgeable
and skilled than it used to be. ER competen-
cies is an example of that. We used to just have
First Aiders, now we need people who have
deeper levels of first aid training and arguably
ambulance skills. CQC will bring more skill
requirements. Care in the Home are talking
about volunteers doing personal care which
will mean some volunteers need to be skilled
and regulated. Refugee services are, in some
cases, looking at OISC level 1 in order to do
the casework. That level of competency that
we now seek will bring other demands in how
we sustain and support that.” Operations
Director.
Improving practice
Five main areas for improving practice were
highlighted:
> Having a phased programme of volunteer
training with a route–map to illustrate to the
volunteer how they can progress:
> Where training can be lengthy and complex
(e.g. EFA), some staff reported looking into
splitting this up into phases. For example,
having a first step training to become a
support volunteer with all of the core
induction and basic first aid training. This
would also serve to reduce a worry that
some volunteers are only coming for the
training, by ensuring that they deliver
something before moving on.
“They can help at certain events and go to
centre meetings. But once they show they are
committed they can ask to progress to being
an EFA volunteer.” Staff member
> Some volunteers were very keen on the
idea of a training route–map which takes
volunteers through all of the different
trainings. It would help to set expectations
and timelines of when you might progress
to this or that training.
“With a route–map it also helps manage
volunteer expectations. They know what they
can work towards and what they can’t go
towards, and that will give a lot of volunteers
satisfaction” Volunteer Leader
> Conducting an Area mapping exercise in
order to understand whether current training
capacity is meeting our organisational needs.
Staff and volunteers suggested increasing the
number of active volunteer trainers to have
available appropriate numbers of trainers to
match demand. The use of APEL as one
means through which to do this was cited.
> More innovative ways of planning,
coordinating and marketing of courses to
maximise take–up across a wider (cross–
county/Area) geography. Specifically
mentioned was the need for forward planning
with a view to better co–ordination of training
across the services, counties and centres.
> Expanding and thinking about what good
development opportunities are and making
them accessible and attractive. The data
suggests a need for the organisation to
expand its definition (and therefore offer) of
development opportunities to include more
non–training events and activities such as
Red100.
> Focusing on specific areas of development.
Specific training mentioned by some volun-
teers as areas for their development included
computer/IT skills (especially for volunteer
leaders), manual handling and customer
service skills for retail, and skills on how to
part ways with beneficiaries for some service
roles, particularly in the context of contracts
with termination dates.
4.3.5 Embracing diversity and creating
opportunities for engaging with a diverse
workforce
Quality volunteering means that the Red Cross
develops the capability to cast its volunteering net
as widely and inclusively as possible in order to
ensure that it is attracting, recruiting and retaining
volunteers from traditionally untapped
communities/groups; and that within the context
of the Red Cross’ own requirements, it finds the
right roles and provides the appropriate support
to suit differing volunteering styles, preferences
and needs.
Successes and good practice
The study identified three organisational
successes:
> A significant increase in young volunteers.
Nearly a fifth (19%) of Red Cross volunteers
are aged between 15 and 25. This was noted
to be due to recent successful campaigns and
initiatives.
> Recognition of the value of external
partners in attracting volunteers and seizing
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 53
opportunities to diversify our volunteer base
as well as for fundraising and general
outreach work. External partners include
schools, local community groups (e.g.
surestart), adult learning groups etc. It was
noted that this does demand time to build up
the good partnership relationships:
> Specific examples of successful work or
ideas included:
– Fundraising – building relationships
with community groups particularly in
times of emergency appeals, to groups that
are linked to the area/ country where the
disaster is happening to empower them to
take action on that specific appeal and in
future fundraising.
– CBFA – working in partnership to
attract potentially vulnerable groups.
– Retail – one shop manager had an
idea (that they were following up) to put
posters up in Red Cross charity shops in
different languages to reach out to local
communities where relevant.
> The vast majority of volunteers (97%)
reported that, on the whole, volunteers
were happy to work alongside a diverse group
of people and a significant proportion of staff
(88%) agreed with this too (that volunteers
were happy to work alongside a diverse group
of people). The majority of volunteers and
staff also agreed that volunteers respect the
fundamental principles in their behaviour
(97% v 87%).
Challenges to overcome
Staff and volunteers highlighted the following
issues as challenging:
> Accommodating different types and needs
of volunteers and styles of volunteering:
> Staff acknowledged the desirability of
being able to respond flexibly to differing
volunteering needs and capitalise on the
opportunities these may present. However,
staff also pointed out the challenges relating
to our internal culture and the shifts in
attitude required to work in these flexible
and creative ways.
“Where people have different needs, amounts
of time and reasons for volunteering, we need
to see how we can deploy them to our
advantage as well as theirs.” Staff member
> Some staff highlighted that the face of
volunteering is changing and that we need
to adapt to the new world. For example,
the British Red Cross need to find more
ways of embracing short-term volunteering
opportunities, which benefit both the
volunteer and the Red Cross, rather than
being reluctant to take on prospective short
term volunteers, for example, students
because they may move quickly. This could
demand a particular type of creativity and
flexibility (e.g. adapting roles to suit shorter
term opportunities) as well as a shift in
attitude from the way the Red Cross has
worked in the past with a strong focus on
the long serving volunteer.
“If we’ve got student volunteers coming
forward... for a limited time, it’s about
making sure they go to the right service...
we need to make sure they’re directed in a
way that is beneficial to us and them. We need
to get something back from them or it’s not
worth our time.” Staff member
> Ensuring inclusive volunteering opportunities
and training:
> Nearly a quarter of volunteers (24%) and
over a third of staff (36%) agreed that there
are barriers to engaging volunteers from a
wide range of backgrounds.
> Some staff members reported not feeling
equipped to find roles and provide the
support that some volunteers might need.
“Sometimes it’s us that’s not equipped…we’ve
got to be able to accommodate [people] in an
appropriate way, and put them in the right
54 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
service with the right support and I think that
should be totally feasible.” Staff member
> Capacity to support volunteers to recognise
inappropriate behaviour and address it, both
in working alongside other volunteers and
with our beneficiaries:
> Examples were given of:
an asylum seeker given a clothes voucher
to use in one of our retail shops and being
spoken to in a most derogatory manner by
the person at the shop; a transgender
survey respondent feeling excluded from
some teams, citing a need for a more
accepting culture.
> Expanding our reach into groups new to
Red Cross. Not many areas or staff reported
specifically looking to expand our reach into
new communities or different groups.
Commenting on a seeming lack of drive to
expand our reach, one volunteer lead said, “…
we rely on the same things we always have.”
Perhaps this is, in part, due to the fact that
these routes seem to work well and the
perception that we don’t need to work hard
to attract volunteers.
Improving practice
Three main areas of improvement were
highlighted:
> Heightened organisational recognition and
communication to teams that different styles
of volunteering can meet our organisational
needs. Also a greater encouragement of teams
to accommodate these accordingly, e.g.
convergent or short–term volunteers.
> A clearer understanding of our diversity
profile and aims with regard to volunteers and
beneficiaries. Specifically, the data identifies
the need to know where we are, as well what
we are striving for, with regards to our
diversity profile and overall agenda. Some of
the pertinent questions raised in the study in-
clude: are we tapping into need within a more
diverse range of communities than we tradi-
tionally have? Do we have a volunteer
or beneficiary base reflective of the diversity
in local populations? Do we have the necessary
strategic direction and thinking with regard to
expanding reach, tapping into new ‘markets
of need’, staff and volunteer expertise?
> Recognition of the need to utilise targeted
recruitment methods (e.g. partnership
working in diverse communities) and other
means of expanding our reach; also
drawing on the lessons learnt from our
successful campaign to increase the profile
of young volunteers at Red Cross.
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 55
4.3.6 Achieving consistency in our
standards to enable quality volunteering
The data from this study indicates a need
for much greater consistency across our
volunteering procedures and practice. Staff and
volunteers wanted flexibility within a framework
of greater consistency; and a healthy balance
between levels of autonomy in implementation
and direction and expectations from management.
Successes and good practice
Areas in which the Red Cross was seen to have
been successful include:
> A welcome focus on volunteering in the
strategy (as strategic priority EP5). This was
recognised by some staff as the first time
volunteering has been given this level of
strategic prominence. This was appreciated
and there was an anticipation of positive
developments to come.
“I’m glad that EP5 has brought
volunteering to the forefront, I’m pleased
we are now discussing things and action will
be taken.” Staff member
> Continuing improvements in the provision of
clear guidance on how to support volunteers.
Substantial numbers of staff (61% of those
surveyed) and volunteers (75%) agreed that
they have had clear guidance on how to best
support volunteers.
Challenges to overcome
Suggested challenging areas of focus include:
> Inconsistent practices in certain aspects of
volunteering. Some of the key areas cited
include the induction process, training
requirements and availability, working across
services, relationships between staff and
volunteer councils. e.g invitations to attend
AMTs and other team meetings are patchy
and vary according to Area.
One member of staff gave their views:
“Where we fall down is the inconsistency of
the induction. The materials are there but the
ability to deliver it in terms of resources, or
someone to deliver it or how often we deliver
it and how that’s co–ordinated. Inconsistency
between services and across the area. It is not
centralised at all so different factors come into
play.” Staff member
> Inconsistent volunteer support staffing
infrastructures:
> These structures were seen to be
inconsistent across Areas both in terms of
what the Area volunteering teams do as
well as who they support. For example,
not all staff have access to a volunteer
recruitment support officer (or equivalent).
> In addition, volunteer adviser roles and
role descriptions varied with different
responsibilities and priorities in different
Areas. Looking at what works best was
suggested and some staff felt that the more
the role can concentrate on one thing the
better. The following comment illustrates
varied staffing arrangements:
“I worry about the staffing structure. One
minute you have this staff structure and that
is the same in every area and now it’s up to
areas whether they have volunteer advisers or
not. Across the organisation, this whole tier
is inconsistent... talking about volunteering
excellence frameworks where some areas
don’t have volunteering advisers or support
managers... I think it’s an outrageous situation
for an organisation that calls itself a
volunteering organisation to be in.”
Volunteer Chair
> Some fundraising and retail staff report that
the volunteer team support in their Areas
are restricted to the operational services,
and not available for fundraising and retail
staff to draw upon.
> Clarity of minimum expectations and
parameters for the implementation of EP5 at
Area level to enable consistent application of
the strategy across the Areas. Staff sometimes
felt there was some confusion with regard to
the implementation of EP5 workstreams,
especially regarding minimum national
standards and expectations of Areas laid
out by the national volunteering team.
“One of the good things that has come out
of the new vol reps guidance is that there’s
clear accountability. It’s clear what our role
is in supporting that and doing that. But in
other ways it is blurred. Where we have to
provide a resource to recruit retail and
fundraising volunteers but we don’t have
any accountability or responsibility for them
[due to matrix management structures]”
Operations Director
“In terms of the theory, we seem to be going in
the right direction. But the jury is out in terms
56 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
of how that develops into local practice. If
there is too much autonomy then you can take
it or leave it locally, we will have inconsistency
and it will go belly up.” Volunteer Chair
> A disconnect between policy and practice for
some Areas. While a lot of national initiatives
might be viewed as theoretically positive, the
implementation of these initiatives was not
always quick or easy, or in some cases,
possible. Some volunteers expressed their
frustration because of this disconnect:
“Area teams should not gazump national
instructions.” Volunteer
“I want to make an observation about
implementation. You get an edict from staff
headquarters saying the policy change will take
place on a certain date. The Ops Director will
say I don’t have a budget to implement this
change. So there is slippage. The information
has gone out to the volunteer base as quickly
as it has gone out to the Ops Director. So the
volunteers start asking where is my new kit
etc. There is no sensible lead in arrangement
from national headquarters.” Volunteer Chair.
> More clarity of national volunteering
infrastructure roles – 56% of staff agreed
that the difference between the role of the UK
Office volunteering team and the role of the
Area or Territory volunteering teams are not
clear. The following discussion illustrates the
degree of confusion even at more senior levels
of management:
“It does come back to accountability and
responsibility. And we need this in terms of
the UKO vol team – what is their role? I
sometimes get very confused as to what they
are there for. Then we have Territory vol
support roles – who are actually very useful
because they’re giving us that interpretation
and advice linked to the policy [but not
everybody has those].” Operations Director #1
“The Volunteering department are a policy
branch and not an executive branch in terms
of making decisions about volunteering
outcomes.” Operations Director #2
“….I’m not sure I have that clarity.”
Operations Director #3
Improving practice
The focus for practice improvement revolved
around three main themes:
> Introducing clear, standard, generic training
and knowledge for all volunteers. Staff
wanted a clear steer on a core set of training
requirements for volunteers and competencies
onto which specialist skills could be added
as required. Over three–quarters (78%) of
surveyed volunteers agreed that they should
be trained in common core skills and only
undertake extra training when it is needed for
their specific role:
“…we need a broader generic to say this is
what a RC volunteer looks like and these are
the things they can do. We used to have this
ages ago. And then if you want to do
specialist refugee work then you can train
in that.” Operations Director
“It would change that culture of a volunteer
who can never make the induction if you can’t
move forward until you’ve done it... the
emphasis has always been on getting the
service training done for them to deliver the
service. It has improved but that’s part of the
key.” Staff member
> Provision of clear national direction regarding
the definitions, parameters and minimum
expectations of the areas in EP5 based on
sound consultation. Staff wanted a clear
steer with regard to their roles in the
implementation of EP5 workstreams. Some
called for more clarity around key practice
guidelines such as the measurement of
recruitment targets, selection criteria for
volunteers, minimum training competencies,
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 57
and standards for building and maintaining
effective support systems for volunteers.
> Provision of clear definitions of roles at
all levels regarding responsibility and
accountability. The data from both focus
groups and the survey indicate the need to
review definitions and communication
around these, particularly with roles.
The enablers of quality
volunteering at British Red
Cross
The research also identified certain factors that
staff and volunteers felt were critical in the
process of enabling quality volunteering. We’ve
termed these the enablers of quality volunteering.
To recap, the three enabler elements are:
1. An accurate and up to date volunteer
knowledge base
2. Appropriate resourcing
3. Creating more and better ways of sharing
learning and good practice relating to
volunteering
Further detail on each of these enabler elements
is provided below.
4.3.7 Having an accurate and up to date
volunteer knowledge base
Knowing who our volunteers are, as well as
information on their skills and interests so we
can match these against the Red Cross’ central
purpose to provide support to people in crisis, is
critical in enabling the many initiatives outlined
in this report.
Successes and good practice
Success areas identified were:
> A recognition of the need for accurate
data which needs urgent attention. Staff and
volunteers were fully aware of the importance/
necessity of having good information on our
volunteers.
> A recognition of the potential of PeopleSoft
as a technology and the need to optimise its
use within the Red Cross.
Challenges
A number of challenges were identified around
this theme:
> A patchy knowledge of our true volunteer
numbers:
> Fundamental for moving forward is the
need to clean up our volunteer numbers.
Staff in some services reported having lots
of volunteers on the books but not really
knowing which ones were active.
“We have so many volunteers on paper
which doesn’t mean anything because we
need willing, active, trained volunteers.”
Staff member
“I think the organisation is petrified of losing
numbers of volunteers but if someone’s not
really doing anything then… they’re not really
a volunteer.” Staff member
> Volunteers drifting away. Staff reported
that too often they don’t know when
volunteers leave.
“Biggest problem is that around 50% of the
time we don’t even know if a volunteer’s left.
Often they just seem to disappear.”
Staff member

But as another staff member acknowledged,
that’s because “we’re not keeping an eye on
them to ask if there’s any reason why you’re
not coming.” Staff member
> Our survey sample for this study was
drawn from the PeopleSoft database. 25%
of responding volunteers in our achieved
sample had stopped volunteering (and some
of these had left more than 11 years ago).
Two deceased people were also identified
out of the initial sample of 3000.
> Using PeopleSoft to full potential. There was
an acknowledgement from a number of staff
that PeopleSoft is a good tool. However, staff
reported some frustration because it was felt
that PeopleSoft is not used at all to its full
capacity or potential (at a national level).
One member of staff noted:
“There is a disconnect between people in
charge of the database and operational use
of data on volunteers.” Staff member
In another respondent’s words:
“It feels like we have this fantastic car parked
on the driveway. We have the keys but we
don’t know how to drive it!” Staff member
58 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
> Adopting an effective and efficient system for
updating the database in order to maintain an
accurate picture. Having centralised updated
information in a timely manner presented a
real challenge to staff. In extreme cases, staff
recounted very difficult situations when they
had attempted to contact people only to be
told they had died. Frustrations with data
accuracy can result in some staff resorting to
build their own databases in an attempt to
maintain semi–accurate local data captured
in this quote:
“People have their own databases, and none of
us should have databases really… the problem
is that you end up inputting information from
one database to another database. You’re
creating databases of databases, when we do
have access to PeopleSoft.” Staff member
Improving practice
Five opportunities for practice development
were noted:
> Identifying responsibility and accountability
for maintaining the database. Assigning
responsibility/accountability for oversight
of this work emerged as a real need. Some
staff and volunteers suggested this could be
achievable working in partnership with
volunteer councils. It was noted that this
practice is occurring in some areas and the
practice needs to spread.
> Engaging volunteers and volunteer councils
in the specific role of helping keep track of
our volunteer numbers and gaining a better
understanding of reasons for retention and
attrition through collecting volunteers’
views. This was also reported as already
happening in some Areas.
> Introducing a workable mechanism for
keeping in touch with leavers and leaving the
door open for them to return whenever they
choose:
> As noted previously, in our recent survey of
leavers, nearly two thirds (64%) of former
Red Cross volunteers said that they would
consider volunteering for the Red Cross at
some point in the future. What is needed is
a method for their easy re–engagement if
and when they choose to do so.
> In addition, facilitating volunteers to easily
transfer between Areas if they are moving
out of the Area was something mentioned
by both staff and volunteers as something
to develop as standard. 12% of former
volunteers surveyed reported that they
stopped volunteering because they had
moved out of the Area.
“I think we need to look into that. People are
not encouraged to stay in the Red Cross while
at university. It’s silly to shut the door on a
Red Cross member because they have moved
away from home.” Volunteer.
> Enabling the effective use of PeopleSoft.
Staff and volunteers expressed the need to
enhance staff capacity and technical skills
at the national level to maximise the use of all
the features of this software in order to
respond more effectively and efficiently to
the organisation’s demands of it.
6
It was also
suggested that the greater the accuracy of
data generated by the system, the greater the
confidence levels of staff and volunteers to use
and own both the data as well as the system.
> The provision of regular standard PeopleSoft
data on volunteers to all the Areas to enable
a better understanding of our volunteer base
and encourage wider use of this information
both operationally and strategically (i.e. sent
out centrally every month/ quarter to volunteer
advisers):
> This would alleviate concerns that Areas
are not getting the same information to
work and plan from. Everybody is
seemingly scrambling around for the same
things, hence ordering and sending the
key information out centrally would save
capacity in this task. Requests for data on
current volunteers as well as joiners and
leavers related to our strategic priorities
and measurement targets – there’s a need
to know what Areas are being measured
on and for them to have access to that
data where it is available.
> This work could be done in conjunction
with the Geographical Information
Systems team who have already done
6 While different in nature BTCV have a database/ online Management
Information system that records, in real time, volunteering activity the
length and breadth of the UK – over their range of geographically
dispersed projects. Paper available at http://www.ivr.org.uk/NR/
rdonlyres/D218CE98–0A49–41BD–B8C4–20B681120430/0/
MilesSibleyFrombeancountingtobehaviouranalysis.pdf
BTCV claim towards the end of this short paper that what sets their
tool apart from others is the emphasis on activity. While thousands of
volunteer records lie dormant for much of the time, when a volunteer
does something the system records it and then correlates it with the
previous volunteering activity of that person. So they can see at any time:
> How many volunteers are “out with us” (i.e. active on projects)
> Who they are (socio–economic data)
> Where they are (locations change daily)
> What they are doing (fluctuations in work type)
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 59
some volunteer profiling and made Area
breakdowns available online at http://
gisdata/volunteer.html
4.3.8 Appropriate resourcing
Resourcing emerged as another powerful
enabler of quality volunteering at the Red Cross.
Volunteers and staff alike acknowledged the need
for proper resourcing in line with addressing the
many challenges highlighted and growing areas of
good practice. As one participant put it:
“It’s not just guidance that we need, it’s
making sure that it [volunteering] is resourced.
You can have all the guidance in the world but
actually unless it’s resourced… there needs to
be an infrastructure.” Operations Director
Successes and good practice
A key area of good practice was identified under
the resourcing theme as:
> The extra capacity made available through
the Area volunteering teams. Some Areas have
volunteer support staff that focus on recruiting
volunteers. Many service staff who work
closely with these teams find them to be
extremely valuable in providing the capacity
and focused resource for recruitment activity.
Staff stressed that recruitment was often very
time–consuming and that more support in this
regard would bring greater efficiencies to the
entire process. In addition, as mentioned
previously, the extra support provided by
wthe Area volunteering teams in dealing with
inappropriate behaviour and CICs was seen
as very helpful.
Challenges to overcome
Two important challenges were identified by
staff and volunteers.
> Staff capacity. Staff reported that limited
capacity meant that they were limited in the
degree to which they could plan for, reflect
and engage with volunteers:
> For many staff their focus was on
keeping the business running rather than
strategically planning for the provision of
volunteer support to meet real and
anticipated beneficiary needs; or indeed
providing the type of volunteer support
required to enhance the volunteering
experience for volunteers.
> It is worth noting that 72% of staff
reported not having enough volunteers
to carry out their work effectively.

> Some staff called for guidance on our
standards for supporting volunteers,
including volunteer:staff ratios. Bespoke
support was considered not possible for
some service support models. Particularly
for staff with lots of volunteers on their
books. So what do we want regarding our
standards of supporting volunteers in such
instances and what is a reasonable number
of volunteers to support (for a certain level
of activity)? In the words of one
participant:
“People need to be given the time to do what’s
necessary if we are to use volunteers, otherwise
it becomes a bit of an annoyance and a bolt–
on, which isn’t how it should be. It’s a capacity
question.” Staff member
> Resourcing volunteer leaders. Significant
numbers of staff and volunteers alike felt
the resourcing of volunteer leads needs to
be increased. In addition, over a quarter of
volunteer leaders (29%) and a fifth of staff
(20%) felt that the organisation does not
commit adequate resources to supporting
volunteering:
“Volunteer chairs… we have huge expectations
on what they do and we send them 600 emails
a week but we don’t actually provide them
with laptops. It’s just nonsense.” Operations
Director.
60 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Improving practice
Three main areas through which to improve
practice were identified:
> Effective deployment of volunteers to fill staff
capacity gaps. Where appropriate, it was felt
that volunteers could be used more effectively
and more widely (beyond their specific
services) as previously discussed. An example
was given of volunteers in one Territory who
felt frustrated by:
“…the lack of admin resources … so the office
closed – yet volunteers have previously offered
to help out.” Volunteer
> Increasing the number of volunteer leaders
and equipping them with resource, support
and training. As previously discussed, staff
and volunteers highlighted the need to create
opportunities to enable more volunteers to
become leaders and to support them with
the necessary resources to help realise
organisational goals, working in
innovative ways.
> A review of resource allocation to enable
sustainable quality volunteering:
> Some staff were interested to see the
organisation develop an enhanced
understanding of how much money goes
into supporting volunteering – that is, the
amount of resource/ support against the
number of volunteers by Area. The
following quote illustrates:
“There’s an interesting equation there in
terms of the amount of resource in the Area
against the number of volunteers we’ve got
(agreement). In my case I have a VA full time,
14 hours of admin support for that VA and 10
hours of membership training provided. And
if this SIF bid goes through I might have a
service co–ordinator I need to work out how
I’m going to use. Look at the number of
volunteers we’ve got and how much that
works out at in terms of pounds and pence.”
Operations Director
> A volunteer costing project in Yorkshire
was recently carried out to explore all of
the costs associates with bringing
volunteers on board. This included the
costs of induction and initial training,
materials and uniform (where relevant),
and other associated costs and was
broken down for each service in that Area.
The analysis also looked at the first year
costs versus second and subsequent year
costs. For further information contact
Tanya Greenwell (TGreenwell@Redcross.
org.uk).
4.3.9 Creating more and better ways
of sharing learning and good practice
relating to volunteering
Throughout this study the data has revealed
innovative and good practice occurring in some
Areas and in pockets throughout the organisation.
In many focus groups staff, volunteers and
beneficiaries spoke directly about their learning
from interacting with colleagues. Providing a
structured way through which volunteering
stakeholders are able to share the many good
practices identified in the survey is an important
enabler of the goal of quality volunteering at the
Red Cross.
Improving practice
Two very specific ways of improving practice in
this regard are identified:
> Providing a structured way of being able to
share learning related to volunteering – this
could be formal or informal – but structured
forums are needed for this to occur. As one
volunteer adviser put it:
“...that would be really good, if all co–
ordinators got together and started talking
about how they cope with managing
volunteers, and what issues come out, because
probably there’s a lot of common things and it
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 61
would be of good benefit to do something like
that. Sharing good practice, yes, definitely.”
> Mapping the current opportunities for this
type of sharing and creating new avenues for
staff and volunteers. This was seen as a way
to build on existing working structures for
sharing learning and creating new
opportunities where these do not exist.
4.3.10 Towards achieving greater quality
volunteering: where we are according to
volunteers and staff…
An objective of this study was to identify those
features that would enable us to track our
ongoing journey towards the goal of quality
volunteering at the Red Cross. To do this it was
necessary to establish how the Red Cross fares,
according to volunteers and staff, on each of
these features, thereby establishing a baseline
against which we may want to track our
progress subsequently.
> We took each of the identified elements of
volunteering, plotted the mean responses (out
of a possible maximum of 5) on a radar chart
to illustrate where the Red Cross currently
features on this scale. As can be seen from Fig
7, ‘embracing diversity’ appears to be the area
of greatest achievement amongst respondents,
& ‘consistency in our standards’ the lowest.
> Staff and volunteers do not differ appreciably.
Generally, volunteers are more optimistic in
their scoring of the Red Cross’ performance
in all categories apart from ‘flexible
deployment of volunteers’ where staff
perceptions of our achievement in this area
exceed those of volunteers.
FIGURE 7 QUALITY VOLUNTEERING AT THE BRITISH RED CROSS (SURVEY RESPONSES)
Responses to statements categorised as features of quality volunteering, displayed as a mean of 1–5
with 5 being strongly agree. Only 7 of the 9 elements have quantifiable data and are therefore included
in the diagram. Based on achieved samples of 344 current volunteers and 159 staff.
1
2
3
4
5
1. Recruiting, retaining
& integrating volunteers
2. Flexible deployment
of volunteers
7. Appropriate
resourcing
3. Building supportive
relationships
6. Achieving
consistency
4. Accessible development
opportunities
5. Embracing diversity
Staff
Volunteer
62 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 63
S
even organisational case studies
were reviewed as part of this study:
Macmillan, Home–Start Nottingham,
Cancer Research UK, Volunteer Centre
Broxtowe, Marie Curie, Crisis and WWF. A
summary of their key successes, challenges and
their perspectives on future development is
presented individually below.
Macmillan
Macmillan Cancer Support works to improve
the lives of people affected by cancer by
providing practical, medical and financial support
and pushing for better cancer care. They have
approximately 15,000 volunteers and 3,000
staff members. The following information was
gathered via a telephone interview with with
Karen Smith, Volunteering Adviser – East
Midlands & Northern England.
Top 3 successes
> A good structure in place. It’s becoming more
important to offer a professional volunteer
experience, so having a structure for this is
necessary.
5 Case studies of external practice:
What are other organisations doing?
64 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
> Attractive roles on offer. Recruitment is
successful in that there’s lots of interest in
the roles on offer so attracting volunteers is
easy (particularly for intern positions – see
developments below).
> Building good teams (of staff and volunteers).
Very good and important to make volunteers
feel part of the team and not an “add on”.
Macmillan do this through involving
volunteers in the development of projects
(from the pilot stages), ensuring volunteers
sit on steering groups and are able to
influence policy. Also training is mixed – staff
and volunteers being trained at the same time.
Integrating staff and volunteers (as much as
possible) has been recognised as important to
the organisation in achieving their goals – to
enable Macmillan to reach the number of
people with cancer.
Top 3 challenges
> Providing a bespoke approach. Understanding
how to make things work for everyone –
recognising that one size doesn’t fit all but that
it’s not possible to offer a completely bespoke
approach to all volunteers. So how to create
that quality experience is a challenge.
> Satisfying all volunteer wants. Volunteers seem
to be wanting more, e.g. training and getting
something out of their volunteering.
Macmillan acknowledging and recognising the
challenge to ensure they are able to deliver that
for volunteers.
> Training logistics. Accessibility e.g. in different
parts of the country. Lots of training happens
in central London and certain courses go to the
regions where needed but otherwise this is a
little ad–hoc and means that volunteers might
have to travel for training.
Developments working towards
> Expanding Macmillan’s work. Looking at what
Macmillan does and where they can involve
volunteers more, i.e. recruiting more and more
volunteers to do the extra things they want to
do as traditionally volunteers have been more
involved in admin and fundraising roles.

> Developing more of a role in service delivery.
Looking to expand Macmillan’s service
delivery roles (currently do this but in
partnership with other organisations who offer
the service delivery element). If this is to entail
offering more services out in the community
then there is potential to involve volunteers in
e.g. buddying and befriending and practical
support roles.
> Expanding the popular intern scheme. The
intern scheme is very popular and so looking
to expand on this and make it more inclusive.
Ensuring this is not just targeting university
graduates but could attract people looking for
a career change or people looking to return
to work.
> Flexible volunteering. Looking at more
flexibility of volunteer roles (as with staff),
e.g. developing roles that can be done
working from home
> Motivation for specific volunteer groups.
Exploring how to keep volunteers motivated
in some of the more difficult roles such as
those that are more distant or more ad–hoc.
> Developing senior volunteer roles. Looking at
what more can be done on the development
side for volunteers who have been with the
organisation a long time, e.g. more senior
roles or slightly more “involved” roles.
Home–Start Nottingham
Home–Start UK works to help increase the
confidence and independence of families by
visiting families in their own homes to offer
support, friendship and practical assistance.
Last year 16,000 volunteers helped families cope
with post–natal illness, isolation, bereavement,
disability and domestic violence. An interview
was carried out with the Home-Start Nottingham
scheme manager, working with approximately
100 local volunteers.
Top 4 successes
> Quality of support. The level of support
volunteers receive is very high and very good
quality. The average length of time a volunteer
stays is currently about 5 years. Guidance from
Home–Start UK on the number of volunteers a
full time staff member can support effectively
is 20 to 30.

> Good communication between volunteers
and their service co–ordinator. Volunteers are
assigned a named co–ordinator which works
well as they are generally very good at keeping
in touch with their co–ordinator for
supervisions and phone calls. If a co–ordinator
can’t get hold of a volunteer within 3 weeks
then they do write to them as they need to
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 65
know what’s going on with their family.
Volunteers also all have the home phone
numbers of all staff in case of an emergency.
Volunteers receive a newsletter 3 times a year
and any other mailings if there are specific
updates to tell them (e.g. the recent
redundancies). They are looking to move
to more email communication in the future
but will keep all of the other communication
routes (not replace them).
> Careful, honest recruitment and interview
process. Home-Start Nottingham are looking
for compatibility and commitment from the
volunteer to offer what is needed. Volunteers
do need to be parents themselves or have
parenting experience, and it is important to
match volunteers to families. Volunteers often
need to go into some potentially difficult
situations with children in families where there
are signs of neglect and domestic violence.
They need to make sure the volunteers are
right and ready for that and can show the level
of understanding needed. This is done through
a very intense and frank interview process
which makes the person think about the
implications of working in this way which
enables a degree of reflection and hence,
self–selection. This means Home–Start
Nottingham doesn’t really end up having to
turn a lot of people away. When they do turn
people away, they can signpost or sometimes
say that the position is perhaps not right for
the individual at the moment (and recommend
that they come back at a future date). They
also emphasise that a one year commitment
after the training is minimum. This is done to
try to sift out volunteers who are just looking
to do it for their purposes or for the training
(e.g. some students).
> Setting expectations. Volunteers know what
they have signed up to through the volunteer
agreement and also careful explanation of
this throughout the training. Volunteers must
complete the Preparation as well as keep a
diary of activities for Monitoring and
Evaluation purposes. Confidentiality is core
to the service and needs to be understood by
both the families and volunteers.
Top 2 challenges
> Diversity. The Nottingham scheme currently
has 6 men out of 100 which is considered
encouraging while noted as a challenge.
Representation from BME groups was
reported as particularly low and they have
tried to look into this in the past. While the
majority of families being supported in
Nottingham are predominantly White
British, some referrals are coming through
for families of different backgrounds.
66 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
> Bringing volunteers together. They don’t
always get a very good turnout when they try
to do this – e.g. for social events or for peer
support or for training. They often don’t get
more than 20% turnout which can feel
frustrating. When questioned, volunteers’
reasons are that they’re not looking for social
contact through their volunteering or that they
are too busy and don’t have the time.
Periodically they do canvass volunteers to
see if there’s anything they’re not getting.
Developments working towards
> More training opportunities:
> Opportunities for volunteers to do extra
training and get accreditation (e.g. NVQ
level 2 for the crèche they have in drop in
sessions – there was interest from
volunteers in this).
> Opportunities for e–learning
> Ongoing training opportunities – just made
an annual safeguarding course mandatory
as everyone needs to be on top of that, also
further training in mental health etc.
> They want to form a pool of volunteers who
can step in for certain tasks, e.g. supporting
people to use the internet, groups of volunteers
to go round cleaning up houses that need it:
the rubber glove brigade.
Volunteer Centre Broxtowe
Volunteer Centre Broxtowe is all about
volunteers. They have some opportunities
working directly for the centre as office
volunteers and also put people in touch with
many local organisations who are looking for
volunteers to help them. In this infrastructure
role, supporting other local volunteer involving
organisations, they carry out interviews and
place volunteers in organisations across the
borough. They get a lot of referrals via their
extensive networking and have experienced a
46% rise in the numbers of volunteers coming
forward this year. They currently host 27 office
based volunteers in a variety of reception,
administrative and project based roles. An
interview was carried out with the Chief
Officer of the Centre.
Top 4 successes
> One to one support. The Centre has one
person who is responsible for all of their office
volunteers which works very well. This is built
in and volunteers know who they can turn
to for support, that person looks after the
volunteers and does things such as their
appraisals etc.
> Specialist programmes for volunteers who
need a little more support:
> High proportions of people enquiring
about volunteering in Broxtowe don’t have
English as their first language (a total of
277 last year) so the volunteer centre got
some European Social Fund money to pilot
some ESOL classes for 2 groups:
– Speakers of other languages who don’t
speak English very well at all in order to
get them ready to place in a volunteer role
– Speakers of other languages who are
highly skilled (alongside their volunteer
role) in order to get them prepared for e.g.
interviews and the workplace culture they
will encounter
> They run 2 job clubs working with
unemployed volunteers.
> They also run a programme to ensure
people with learning difficulties and mental
health issues get the extra support they
need to enable them to volunteer. They
have received some funding from the Dept
of Health to employ 1 worker to spend
more time with this group of volunteers
and also have a counsellor (volunteer)
supporting this programme.
> Empowering people to move on. Success for
the Volunteer Centre at Broxtowe is when
volunteers do move on and for example, find
paid work. This might mean they stop
volunteering, but that is also a successful
outcome for their volunteering. “That’s what
we’re here for – enabling people to move on”.
CEO, Volunteer Centre Broxtowe
> Tracking volunteers and measuring impact.
As part of their role providing a service placing
volunteers in other organisations, they try to
keep in touch with volunteers who they place
and track to see if they’ve taken up the
placement (after a few weeks), how they are
doing (after 12 weeks), what they thought of
the service from Broxtowe Volunteer Centre
(after 6 months) and any impact the
volunteering has had (after 12 months). As
well as providing them with vital information
for their funders and to develop their services,
volunteers seem to appreciate the follow up.
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 67
Top 2 challenges
> Recognising the differences between
volunteers and paid staff. When working
with volunteers you do have to acknowledge
and take a different line to working with paid
staff as well as ensure that you’re always one
step ahead in working out the issues that might
arise. In addition, when you work with paid
staff you know they’re going to be there, when
you work with volunteers you don’t and that’s
something you have to work around.
> Funding. The Volunteer Centre is very
frustrated at the lack of acknowledgement
that volunteering requires investment and
costs money. At the national level there’s a lot
of talk from David Cameron about the Big
Society and volunteering but there’s not much
funding coming through for volunteering to
allow things to happen. Volunteering is
not free.
Developments working towards
> Developing more sensitive in–house
placements. They want the Volunteer Centre
to act as a supported springboard for some of
the perhaps more vulnerable volunteers to start
with and then move onto another placement
when they are ready. The Centre ethos is that
they are here to help as many people to
volunteer as they can and some volunteers are
difficult to place outside. Therefore volunteers
can gain skills and confidence at the centre and
then move on elsewhere.
> Developing a pool of volunteers for one–off
events. The Volunteer Centre often gets asked
by organisations for volunteers for one off
events and so they are starting to ask this at
the interview stage in order to build up a bank
of people they can draw upon for this.

> Increasing the use of email. Trying to get more
done via email and send the newsletter out by
email as this will cut costs. They don’t want
to eliminate paper copies but there might be a
very small charge associated for those that still
want a paper copy of the newsletter.
Marie Curie
Marie Curie Cancer Care provides end of life
care to terminally ill patients in their own homes,
or in one of their nine hospices. They have
approximately 7,500 registered volunteers and
up to another 20,000 occasional volunteers who
are in more ad–hoc (i.e. collections) roles. The
registered volunteers work in shops, hospices,
office and outreach/ ambassador roles. An
interview was carried out with one of their
Regional Volunteering Managers.
Top 3 successes
> Standardising processes. The organisation
has recently developed a new structure for
volunteering and created a central
volunteering team with 4 Regional Volunteer
Managers who support staff in their roles of
supporting volunteers. This has enabled lots
of the processes (e.g. for recruitment and
induction) to become more standardised – so
getting volunteers on board is working well.
While it’s still patchy and very dependent on
the departments and individual managers it’s
also still very early days.
> Volunteer appreciation. This is important and
works well through their communications and
ensuring volunteers are recognised in internal
news letters etc. Managers are hosting events
for volunteer week – this year it has been
called The Big Thank You. They also have
formal awards for volunteers to recognise good
work, for which they get a couple of hundred
nominations each year (from managers and
patients) recommending volunteers. Different
awards for individuals, teams, innovation etc.
The categories are revised every year to
recognise the great variety of volunteers
they have.
68 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
> Volunteering is at the heart of business
planning. It’s always been there but it’s
never been so prominent before. There’s a
Director of Volunteering who sits on the
executive board which enables that voice for
volunteering right at the top. In terms of
how this plays out on the ground, departments
all have volunteering objectives in their reviews
and it’s a required question in the annual plans
– regarding what departments are doing and
how they are developing volunteering. As a
consequence, volunteering feels very built into
everyone’s plans and objectives. With the new
volunteering department, it’s also becoming
much more prominent across the organisation
with, for example, a lot more posts related
to volunteering on the intranet, e.g. new
policies and practices, myth busters (a myth
of the week) intending to educate staff and
managers on some of the common myths
surrounding volunteer recruitment,
limitations etc.
Top 4 challenges
> Culture of working with volunteers. Some
staff are not necessarily used to working with
volunteers and so they have to learn from the
start, for example, about the importance of
saying hello. Getting everyone on board with
the culture of working with volunteers is
critical.
> Introducing more flexible and short–term
volunteering opportunities. The way people
volunteer is changing from how it used to be.
Organisations need to accept volunteers with
different skills, and even if they can only come
in for 3 months we might be able to get a huge
amount out of them in that 3 months so it’s
about recognising it’s worth it! The challenge
lies in changing perceptions of staff who might
think the recruitment effort is too much to just
take someone on for a short time. Some of
the changes Marie Curie has seen in the new
volunteers coming forward include: more men
(perhaps unemployed or having just been made
redundant but still wanting to do something);
more job seekers (a way to get experience);
and more referrals from social work
departments (people with mental health
issues looking for skills development).
> Legislation and other necessary requirements,
e.g. insurance. This can be seen as red tape but
these things are required and it’s making sure
that, for example, drivers are covered for their
volunteering etc. It’s not always easy to fathom
it all out but we have to be on top of it.
> Keeping good tracking information on
volunteers. This is a challenge due to
having different databases that don’t talk to
each other. Work is in progress to improve
this (see below).
Developments working towards
> Standardising things across the charity.
Bringing shops and fundraising into the
new structure. Still being in the change period,
the initial focus was on the hospices, there’s
now a need to get all of the processes and
infrastructure in place across the organisation
so to work with the shops and fundraising –
supporting their recruitment, induction and
other processes (although the need is
recognised as perhaps not so great in the
shops as they do have structures in place).
> Trialling volunteer team leaders. To support
staff in taking on a volunteer co–ordination
role, particularly in hospices where the ward
staff might need support in the day to day
volunteer co–ordination work, but staff still
act as the volunteer’s line manager.
> Developing the database. Marie Curie
currently use Care database but have just
built their own bespoke component to cope
with the fluid nature and timeline of volunteer
recruitment and allow for the tracking they
require in this process (they felt that a lot of
the HR databases don’t have the capacity to
deal with some of the things they wanted).
> The intern programme. This is being
developed, largely office based roles expanding
into marketing, finance and other areas.
> Rolling out the Marie Curie more advanced
volunteer helper role. The pilot project for
this has just come to and end and that’s been
well–received by both volunteers and
patients so they will be gradually rolling
this out more. This will mean a targeted
recruitment campaign. This requires more
training (over several weeks) than other
volunteer roles as the volunteer is going into
people’s homes so a much more rigorous
recruitment process, taster sessions and
selection also happens after training to ensure
the right people are in these critical roles and
the expectations of the work are clear to
the volunteer.
> More generally, there’s a desire to make things
easier for everyone (staff and volunteers). For
example, for volunteers to get started,
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 69
cutting down the time it takes for volunteers
to come on board. This can take from 3 weeks
(usually roles that don’t need external checks)
to as long as 9 months (current disclosures in
Scotland are taking a long time to come back
and they’re still awaiting some from January).
Depending on the role volunteers can
sometimes start doing non–patient based
activity but not always.
Crisis
Crisis is the national charity for single homeless
people, dedicated to ending homelessness by
delivering life–changing services and campaigning
for change. Over 10,000 volunteers are involved
in Crisis every year, to help deliver services,
campaign, fundraise, provide administrative and
IT support, and in their Christmas Crisis Centres.
The Institute for Volunteering Research carried
out a research study in 2008 to evaluate what the
volunteering programme is currently achieving
and how it can move forward in the future. This
helped Crisis to inform the development of a
volunteering strategy in late 2009. These are some
of the key successes and challenges highlighted
from the report.
Top 3 successes
> Processes and procedures in place. Over the
last few years, the volunteering programme
has adopted a more formal and structured
approach to involving and supporting
volunteers. It has now in place a series of
procedures and processes for volunteers which
would be viewed as “good practice”, including
an application and interview procedure, a
volunteer policy, volunteer agreements, role
descriptions, induction, training and
accreditation opportunities and a supervision
and support structure for volunteers.
> Volunteers feel supported and valued. Overall
volunteers feel supported by the organisation
and the well–developed support structure.
Three quarters of year round volunteers
reported feeling well supported (75%) and
80% of Christmas Crisis volunteers reported
this. Volunteers generally felt valued and
thanked appropriately for the contribution
they made. Note however that there was
significant variation in the views of volunteers
according to their role and between centres.
> Induction session contributing to feeling
well informed. Volunteers who felt very well
informed were three times more likely to
have attended an induction session.
Top 3 challenges and recommendations for
further developments
> Achieving consistency of support for
volunteers. The research recommended a need
to move towards a more consistent level of
support for all volunteers by raising awareness
of the importance of effective management and
support for volunteers amongst staff, improve
access to training in working with volunteers
and increase the sharing of good practice in
volunteer management between departments,
teams and Crisis Christmas Centres.
> Enhancing opportunities for volunteers
to influence development and improving
communication with volunteers. Another
recommendation highlighted improving
communication channels between staff and
volunteers to ensure they are involved in,
and informed of, issues and changes in the
organisation. Improve the mechanisms for
volunteers to feed in their ideas for the
development of services and wider activities,
as well as for feeding back their experiences
of volunteering.

> Developing progression routes for volunteers
(particularly for clients who volunteer) and
improving the ‘post volunteering experience’
(particularly for Christmas Crisis volunteers).
Providing further support to volunteers, in
particular clients who volunteer, would help
them develop and progress through their
volunteering. This includes providing them
with opportunities to reflect on their
volunteering experiences. Explore ways of
keeping Crisis Christmas volunteers engaged
with Crisis and homelessness issues through
regular e–newsletters and volunteer days.
The review also highlighted some broader
strategic considerations:
> Exploring the possibility of moving more
towards an engagement model of
volunteering. Crisis currently operates a
mix of different models and approaches to
volunteering. In one way, volunteers are
helping to deliver and support Crisis’ work
with homeless people and volunteering can be
seen as a means to an end in the delivery of
services. In another, volunteering is a means
through which individuals and communities
can be empowered and engaged; here,
volunteering can be seen as an end in itself.
Currently, there is an emphasis within Crisis
on the former, although the latter is recognised
as important.
70 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
> Exploring opportunities to meet the wider
commitment to raising awareness about
homelessness amongst the general public.
There is a tension within Crisis between its
impressive ability to recruit volunteers and
the consequent demand for the limited
number of opportunities available. The
organisation is looking to engage volunteers
in ‘new roles with new responsibilities’ and
this initiative will be key to developing the
volunteering programme and a deeper level
of engagement with volunteers and
supporters. This work could be undertaken
in partnership with others, through involving
volunteers across organisations and
establishing a ‘community’ of homelessness
volunteers. Such an approach could play a
potentially vital role in helping Crisis and
other organisations meet their wider
commitment to raising awareness about
homelessness amongst the general public.
The Wildlife Trusts
The Wildlife Trusts are a network of 47 local
conservation trusts, supported by an umbrella
office. Over 32,300 volunteers are involved in
undertaking a wide variety of activities. In seeking
to develop their volunteering The Wildlife Trusts
decided to implement and deliver Unlocking the
Potential, a three year volunteering development
programme. Some details of the highlights from
an evaluation of the programme, published in
2006 by the Institute of Volunteering Research,
are noted below.
Key challenges (identified before the development
programme and research)
> At the time, there was no central resource to
support individual Trusts in the development
of volunteering
> The quality of experience for volunteers
was inconsistent
> Many Trusts were struggling to recruit
volunteers from a wide cross–section of the
community – 98% of volunteers, for example,
were white, and 46% were retired.

Aims of the programme
The main aims of Unlocking the Potential
were to:
> Volunteer recruitment. Get more people
volunteering for The Wildlife Trusts
> Volunteer diversity. Involve people who
have traditionally been under–represented as
volunteers, including young people, disabled
people, people from Black and minority ethnic
groups, unemployed people, people with
mental ill health.
> Focus on volunteer benefits. Ensure all
volunteers receive maximum benefits from
their involvement
> Focus on organisational mission – nature
conservation. Deliver nature conservation
benefits through enhanced volunteer
involvement.
The programme was delivered through two
key strands. Firstly, ten local Trusts ran diversity
projects to test out different ways of attracting
new groups of volunteers in the organisation.
Secondly, a volunteer development function was
developed within the umbrella office to promote
good practice in volunteer management across
all Trusts.
Some of the key findings of the research
evaluation of the programme were:
> A number of recruitment methods were
tested. Those found to be most successful
were based on partnership working, with
Trusts developing relationships with a
number of locally–based organisations to
recruit, support and place new volunteers.
> A range of new and innovative opportunities
were developed for volunteers across the ten
Trusts. Those based on time–limited group
activities were felt to be most successful at
attracting new volunteers.
> Internal volunteer support policies and
procedures were developed in order to enhance
the involvement of a more diverse range of
volunteers. This included coordinating
volunteer management across all departments
for the first time in some Trusts. In others it
included training staff on volunteering and
diversity issues.
Further learning highlights the key ingredients
for success of their programme – http://www.ivr.
org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/61B5DCA2–DE33–47C7–
9C67–727D692E7DF7/0/wildlife_trust.pdf
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 71
T
his study has enabled us to build
on the significant pieces of work
previously conducted and currently
ongoing in volunteering teams
throughout the British Red Cross. It has brought
together the views of beneficiaries, volunteers and
staff in an attempt to identify the essential
elements which we need to focus on as an
organisation if we are to continue to enhance
the quality of volunteering at the Red Cross. That
is, our capacity to respond effectively to the needs
of our beneficiaries while ensuring that the
volunteering experience itself is positive,
rewarding and maximising of the talents and
skills people want to offer.
It is clear that there are many success stories
of good volunteering practice at the Red Cross.
As in so many other sectors of the organisation’s
work, volunteering too is limited in the degree to
which this practice is shared more widely across
the organisation.
A review of the external literature alongside our
internal findings suggests that we are in quite a
good position at the Red Cross. We have taken
a bold step to identify what it means for the Red
Cross to have a quality volunteering offer in place
6 Conclusions and implications for the
British Red Cross
72 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
and we recognise the main areas on which we
should focus. The external literature does prompt
some questions which need some reflection and
consideration:
> Developing a clear British Red Cross vision/
framework for volunteering. While volunteer
involvement is fundamental to the work of
the Red Cross, the mission is to ensure
everyone gets the help they need in a crisis
and hence, remain beneficiary focused. Are
volunteers therefore largely a means to an
end, an end in itself or both? Acknowledging
and being clear about the tensions in these
underpinning philosophies of volunteering
will enable a greater understanding of the
real implications on volunteer support and
management practice. For example, addressing
issues surrounding the selection of volunteers
within a framework of inclusion, supporting
beneficiaries to become volunteers as
appropriate, highlighting wider outcomes from
involving volunteers, investing in volunteers
who might need a little more support to
empower and enable them to carry out the
work of the Red Cross .
> Understanding the potential impact of
becoming more market focused on our
volunteers. The British Red Cross, like other
voluntary sector organisations, is rapidly
growing its involvement in the world of
contracts and contracting. Venturing
increasingly into the world of contracting may
have implications for volunteering at the Red
Cross. In other words, what are the
associated challenges and opportunities
arising from a more market–approach to the
Red Cross’ business given that volunteers
engage for more ‘social’ reasons? How does
Red Cross travel down the contract route
without losing the distinctive nature,
independence and ethos of voluntary sector
service provision – which is what our
volunteers are here for and are proud of –
without alienating volunteers in the process?
How well is the Red Cross placed to address
these issues proactively?
> Leading thought and contribution. The British
Red Cross would appear to be in the upper
percentiles of leading thinking on defining
what quality volunteering is in the voluntary
sector. Is there an appetite for the Red Cross
to become engaged and contribute to a wider
public/sector debate?
> Diversifying our workforce, knowledge base
and reach. Issues of diversity will have a major
impact on both the quality and quantity of
volunteering at the Red Cross over the next
several years. Innovative approaches and a
political will are needed to engage with new
communities in terms of expanding both our
volunteer and beneficiary base. What is the
Red Cross’ aspiration for proactively
diversifying its workforce and engaging with
new groups and communities in the future?
> Resourcing quality volunteering is not
insubstantial. Additional resources are called
for to enable the outlined recommended
improvements to take place as discussed. Some
prioritisation of the elements identified may be
necessary. However, there is a strategic related
question that must be addressed – that is, to
what degree of quality volunteering is the
British Red Cross aspiring – and what are the
associated resources required and in which
the Red Cross is willing to invest in order to
realise this?
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 73
R
ecommendations from this study
are included right through the
paper under each of the quality
volunteering elements discussed.
The recommendations included in this section
relate specifically to future research and
learning opportunities identified in the
course of the study.
> Identifying volunteering outcomes and
indicators to monitor progress. One of the
aims of this study was to develop our
understanding of some of the key indicators
for measuring progress towards quality
volunteering at the Red Cross. We have
identified the elements of quality
volunteering, and laid the foundation for
the development of volunteering outcomes.
A further step is needed to identify a few key
outcomes and indicators against which the
volunteering department wishes to monitor
its performance. A recommendation is
made to undertake this next stage of work
building on the findings from this study.
> Specific research areas related to volunteering
to enhance future developments. Some
topics were highlighted in the research
7 Recommendations for future research
74 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
as pertinent and that pulling together
organisational knowledge to gain a better
understanding of how things work in practice,
specific to these would aid future planning
and replication of good practice. These
included:
1. Contracts and volunteers. What is already
known across the organisation? What are
the current opportunities and challenges
and how do these affect volunteer
management practice? What should we be
taking into account and considering now in
order to prepare well for the future? (e.g.
regulations; an enhanced skills requirement,
hence training requirement, of volunteers
for certain contracts; the changing roles
and positions of volunteers in relation to
paid staff.)
2. Understanding the differences between
volunteers and paid staff. How different
is it for volunteers in the workplace and
what are the implications on volunteer
management and support practices?
What is the importance of recognising and
rewarding volunteers? And how is this best
done? What can we learn from current
practice on what works well both internally
and from other volunteer–involving
organisations?
3. Gaining a deeper understanding of the
associated costs of volunteering.
Acknowledging that volunteering isn’t free
and supporting forward planning in order
to ensure a sustainable volunteering future.
4. Exploring our diversity profile and aims
with regard to volunteers and beneficiaries.
The need to know where we are, as well
what we are striving for, with regards to
our diversity profile and overall agenda
and to provide more strategic direction in
this regard.
5. Different styles of volunteering within
a changing society. Bringing together
the good practice that exists across the
organisation in recognising and
supporting new ways of volunteering.
How can we maximise the opportunities
of a changing society?
6. Exploring what kinds of specialist support
volunteer leaders and volunteers who
manage other volunteers may need. Saving
Lives, Changing Lives seeks to increase the
number of volunteer leaders. Is the current
support and training offered to our
volunteer leaders appropriate to their
needs? Do they have access to the training,
support and advice that they need to
develop their skills in order to carry out
their role effectively? What do we already
know about the associated challenges in
ensuring the quality and consistency of
management? And what are the
implications for paid staff as they delegate
and equip volunteers to take on that
management/leadership role?
7. Exploring the barriers and enablers to
volunteer retention in the early stages –
from the initial enquiry to being recruited
to undertaking the initial training and then
to the early deployment phase. What level
of retention is feasible, realisitic and/or
desirable (noting that this may vary
between different services and activities
of the Red Cross)? And what can we learn
from good practice across the organisation?
The above could be taken forward as
discrete projects, in some cases this might be
developmental and suit an intern position
within a limited time–frame.
> Contributing to the public debate on quality
volunteering: the concept of quality
volunteering is a newly emerging one. There
is relatively little research as of yet conducted
in this area. Our research places us in a
position to contribute to this debate
through publication and conferences. It is
recommended that the Red Cross seizes this
opportunity.
> Research and learning in partnership: many
of the organisations we contacted for this
study expressed an interest in forming learning
partnerships on volunteering with the Red
Cross. Some felt that this would be extremely
useful for staff in volunteer management and
support roles at a regional level (i.e. not only
at the central office/national level). There was
also some appetite in potentially conducting
joint research to understand what some of the
issues mean for the voluntary sector. A
collective voluntary sector perspective on a
number of these issues would greatly enrich
the debate and learning. We recommend that
the Red Cross should take an active lead in
this regard.
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 75
Qualitative Research – focus
groups and interviews
Focus group with staff and volunteers
> The purpose of the group discussions was to
explore staff and volunteer experiences, needs
and perspectives on quality volunteering. The
sessions were informal using the templates set
out in Appendices C1 & C2 and lasted, on
average, about 75–90 minutes. Participation
was voluntary and answers were treated
confidentially.
> A total of 30 groups were carried out from
mid–February to mid–April 2011 and took
place in each of the 4 Territories of the British
Red Cross. The breakdown was as follows:
> A total of 16 volunteer groups: Northern
(2), South Eastern (3), Scotland, Northern
Ireland & Isle of Man (5), Wales & West-
ern (3), and 3 groups of Volunteer Chairs
(from across all the Territories).
> A total of 14 staff groups: Northern (1),
South Eastern (6), Scotland, Northern
Ireland & Isle of Man (2), Wales &
Western (3), a group of Operations
Directors, and a group of the Senior
Management Team.
> Note that volunteer focus groups were not
arranged in the London Area due to London
completing their own research project on
the volunteer experience and hence, to avoid
duplication. Instead we liaised with the
London project research team across the
research period in order to compare findings
and share learning wherever possible. Contact
Jessica Lightfoot (JLightfoot@redcross.org.uk)
for more information on the London research.
Interviews with beneficiaries
> The purpose of the interview was to hear
beneficiary views and experiences of the
service they received from volunteers at the
British Red Cross. We wanted to understand
how satisfied or unsatisfied they were with the
service and any particular reasons they have
for feeling that way.
> We used a mixture of face to face and
telephone interviews. They were informal
discussions using the template set out in
Appendix C3 and lasted, on average about
15–20 minutes. Participation was voluntary
and answers were treated confidentially.
> A total of 18 interviews were carried out
in April 2011 across 4 different service areas
of the British Red Cross including Refugee
services, Health and Social Care, Fire
Emergency Support Services, as well as
attendees on first aid courses.
Area mapping
> The purpose of the Area mapping was to
develop a national picture of how volunteer
co-ordination and support currently works
in each Area from the insights and experiences
of the volunteer support teams.
> A template of open, reflective questions was
sent to the Volunteer Advisers in each of the 21
Red Cross Areas and a selection of Retail and
Fundraising staff for their insights.
> As well as feeding into the overall research
findings, a good practice guide was produced
from the collation and analysis of these area
mapping responses. This supplementary
publication is available alondside this
research report.
Quantitative Research – surveys
The purpose of the surveys was to test some of
the emerging themes from the focus groups with
a larger sample of representative volunteers and
staff and enable us to fill in any gaps in knowledge
as well as test some wider organisational
assumptions/priorities.We also wanted to capture
some information from former volunteers.
Online survey of staff
> A short online questionnaire was emailed to all
service co–ordinators (n=401) in April 2011
using the online survey tool Surveyshack. The
sample was obtained from the PeopleSoft HR
database.
7

> 159 completed questionnaires were received
yielding a response rate of 40%.
7 A separate request was sent to retail staff through the weekly till news
(as they were not included in the PeopleSoft list).
Appendix A Technical Report
76 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Telephone survey of volunteers
> A short telephone survey (approximately 10
minutes) was conducted with a random sample
of volunteers, obtained from PeopleSoft. We
got an achieved sample of 456 volunteers, 344
were current volunteers and 112 were former
volunteers.
8
> The fieldwork was carried out by Facts
International Ltd in April 2011. The analysis
was completed in May 2011 using the
statistical package STATA which allowed
the research team to carry out a range of
systematic tests on the data to look for
explanations to the question responses (for
example, whether any differences that were
apparent between different groups of
volunteers were significant or not).
8 Note that due to the methodology used it was not possible to calculate
a true response rate for this survey. We started with a sample of 3,000
volunteers in order to achieve over 400 interviews in the very short
timeframe we had for the fieldwork period. We stopped the fieldwork
when we reached over the 400 total required, rather than continuing to
contact volunteers who had not yet taken part/ been contacted.
> A breakdown of the volunteer survey
respondents, by Red Cross service and
Territory as well as various demographic
variables, can be found in Appendix B..
Research challenges
A number of methodological challenges were
identified upfront for the research to overcome.
These are highlighted in the table below.
Challenge Steps to overcome
Avoiding duplication: It was essential that
the research filled gaps or sought further
understanding where useful and appropriate
rather than duplicating work already going on.
An important objective of the research was to
collate recent and current research being carried
out on the volunteering experience nationally and
within the Areas and interpret this collated picture.
In addition, participation from the right people in
the Areas was key to the project’s success.
Communicating early and well with the right
people was critical.
Capacity of the Areas to participate: A lot of
requests are made of the Areas (and particularly at
the time the research was being conducted), we
needed to ensure the burden on Areas was kept
to a minimum with strong clarity of purpose.
Carefully planned communications (when, what
and from whom) were essential, and joining up
communication about the research with the wider
EP5 activity where possible. Aligning the research
with other work where necessary to demonstrate a
joined up approach and avoid duplication of effort.
Wide coverage: The research attempted to
cover all volunteering activity in each of the
services across the 21 Areas of the British Red
Cross. Understanding the different approaches
that work most effectively in different
geographical Areas and keeping an eye out for
differences across different service areas was
identified as a particular challenge for the
research to uncover.
We needed to focus on what reliable findings
could be drawn out of this current research
project. We constantly revisited the aims, as
necessary, in designing the study and checked
any potential to bring in research capacity to boost
data collection (e.g. the spread and the number
of focus groups). Further needs/breakdowns (that
could not be addressed in this research) were
noted for consideration in future research.
Research capacity: This is a lot of work to be
done in a 9 month period.
Identifying essential and non-essential outputs for
the end of the 9 month period was necessary so
the project could be scaled back if necessary, and
leaving non-essential outputs to be addressed in
future research.
TABLE 3 METHODOLOGICAL CHALLENGES
FOR THE RESEARCH
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 77
Appendix B Sample demographics:
Volunteer achieved survey sample
1. Are you a current volunteer with the British Red Cross?
Number %
Yes 344 75
No 112 25
TOTAL 456 100
2. Sex
Number %
Male 96 28
Female 248 72
TOTAL 344 100
3. Age
Number %
25 and under 53 15
26 to 35 19 6
36 to 45 32 9
46 to 55 42 12
56 to 65 71 21
66 to 75 83 24
76 and over 44 13
TOTAL 344 100
Number %
25 and under 53 15
26 to 45 51 15
46 to 65 113 33
66 and over 127 37
TOTAL 344 100
78 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
4. Which services or activities do you volunteer for in the British Red Cross?
Number %
Retail 89 26
Event First Aid 84 24
Fundraising 62 18
Other H&SC projects 36 10
Community Based
First Aid
29 8
Medical Loan 28 8
Emergency Response 23 7
Care in the Home 23 7
Transport and Escort 18 5
Fire Emergency
Response Services
15 4
Youth Services 12 3
Office admin 12 3
Refugee Services 7 2
ITMS 4 1
Other 35 10
TOTAL 344 100
Note:% columnn adds up to more than 100%
because multiple response
5. Number of services/activities people volunteer for
Number %
1 251 73
2 63 18
3 22 6
4 7 2
6 1 0
TOTAL 344 100
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 79
6. Territory
Number %
Scotland, Northern
Ireland and Isle of Man
69 20
Northern 65 19
Wales and Western 80 23
South Eastern 104 30
UKO 9 3
Don’t know 17 5
TOTAL 344 100
7. How long have you been volunteering with the Red Cross?
Number %
Less than 6 months 22 6
6 months to a year 31 9
1-2 years 74 22
3-5 years 64 19
6-10 years 51 15
11-20 years 52 15
21-30 years 19 6
30 years or more 31 9
TOTAL 344 100
Number %
Less than a year 53 15
1-2 years 74 22
3-5 years 64 19
6-10 years 51 15
11 years or more 102 30
TOTAL 344 100
80 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
8. How often do you volunteer with the Red Cross?
Number %
More than one day a
week
90 26
One day a week 116 34
One or two days a
month
72 21
A couple of times a year 38 11
Once a year 8 2
Another arrangement 20 6
TOTAL 344 100
9. Do you manage or lead other volunteers?
Number %
Yes 80 23
No 263 76
Don’t know 1 0
TOTAL 344 100
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 81
C1. Volunteer focus groups
Preparation before the group arrive:
> Put up 4 flip charts in different parts of the
room, with the following questions on:
> FLIPCHART 1: What are the gains and
benefits you get from volunteering at the
Red Cross?
> FLIPCHART 2: Illustrate the volunteer
journey as a timeline:
1. Initial induction & training à 2. Co–
ordination & organisation of work à 3.
Support & management à 4. Development
opportunities à 5. Communication
> FLIPCHART 3: What is Quality
Volunteering?
> FLIPCHART 4: Do you think we’re
heading in the right direction?
> Distribute post–its and red, amber, green dots

> Can start the first question (on flipchart 1) for
people to think about as others are arriving.
Notes & introductions incorporating Q1
(estimate 10 minutes)
Thank people for coming and introduce yourself,
the research and the aims of the session (how it
will help the organisation and how we will use
information):
1. Background to the research: Research is
looking to explore what a good volunteering
experience looks like at the British Red
Cross. We want to provide an increased
understanding of what quality volunteering
means to us (this is the question prepared on
flipchart 3 which we’ll come back to at the
end) from the experiences of volunteers, staff
and beneficiaries. We’re looking to identify
approaches that best support us all to deliver
our work effectively. The research will be
completed in June 2011 and a report will go
to the Senior Management Team to inform
thinking on how we develop our volunteering
offer in the future.
2. Aims/uses of this session: The purpose
of the group discussion is to give you the
opportunity to input your views and
experiences of volunteering as part of the
data collection phase of the study. It’s an
informal discussion and will last about
an hour.
3. Emphasise that what they say is confidential
(within the room) and any comments will be
treated anonymously. Check everyone is ok
with the discussion being taped but to
reassure this is only for own purposes and
to be able to recall the full discussion for the
analysis stage. Won’t go any further.
Will have a quick whizz around the room in a
moment for introductions but before that a quick
exercise...
A. Exploring why volunteers stay – gains
and benefits
1. As an organisation we get lots of benefits
from your volunteering with us but what
do you get out of it? What are the gains
and benefits you get from volunteering at
the British Red Cross? (FLIPCHART 1)
Ask them to take a moment to reflect and jot
these down on the post–its provided, e.g. up to
3 reasons.

INTRODUCTIONS: Quick whizz around the
group with everyone introducing themselves –
their name, the service and volunteer role and
how long they’ve been volunteering at Red Cross.
And to share their main gain, what they get out
of volunteering.
Collect in the post–its to stick on the flipchart for
logging and to share for everyone to see.
B. Exploring volunteer satisfaction
(estimate 45 mins)
Now turning to your volunteering experience,
your role, the support you receive and the
training you’ve had from the organisation.
Appendix C Research focus group discussions
and interview templates
82 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
I’d like to ask a few questions about how
satisfied you are with the different aspects.
(FLIPCHART 2)
Talk through the 5 aspects we’re going to cover as
listed on flipchart 2. Ask volunteers to take a brief
moment for reflection... then explain what the
red, amber, green dots are... ask people to come
up and indicate on the flipchart for each aspect
a green dot if you’re really satisfied with how
this works, an amber dot if you think it’s ok but
there’s some room for improvement, and a red dot
if you feel unsatisfied about it and changes to this
could enhance your volunteer experience.
Open discussion...reflecting what they have
indicated... using the qns & probes below as
necessary...
1. Thinking back to your first experiences as a
volunteer, how relevant was your induction,
initial training & any other preparation you
had for your volunteer role? Check/
summarise how they scored this aspect...
refer to flipchart
> What did you like about it?
> What did you dislike about it?
> How could we improve the initial
experience for volunteers?
2. How do you find your volunteer work
is co–ordinated and organised? Check/
summarise how they scored this aspect...
refer to flipchart
> What do you like about it?
> What do you dislike about it?
> How could we improve the co–ordination
of volunteering to enhance your
experience?
PROBES: Is the workload and levels
of responsibility appropriate? Are
expectations and boundaries made clear?
3. In terms of support and management, can we
do a quick check around the room, do you
know who your manager (or supervisor) is?
(show of hands) Check/ summarise how they
scored this aspect...refer to flipchart
> What do you like about the support
you get?
> What do you dislike about it?
> What support would you like from a man-
ager that would enhance your experience?
> For those that don’t have a manager –
where do you go to for direction or
support?
PROBES: Whether get feedback and how
often? Whether feel valued by manager?
Team?
4. What development opportunities have you
had or do you have access to in your volunteer
role? Check/ summarise how they scored this
aspect...refer to flipchart
> What do you like about them?
> What do you dislike about them?
> What sort of development opportunities or
other offers would you be interested in for
your Red Cross volunteer role? How could
we improve our offer in this aspect?

PROBES: Whether feel like their
individual skills and experiences are
being acknowledged and used? Whether
know much about other volunteering
opportunities at the Red Cross? & if of
interest.
4. Finally, what about communication, how do
you feel about the ways in which the Red
Cross communicates and listens to its
volunteers?
> What do you like about it?
> What do you dislike about it?
> How could we improve communication to
enhance the volunteer experience?
PROBES: Perceptions of the role of the
volunteer council? Whether know who
their council rep is? & whether feed into
these meetings? Or get feedback from
them? What would you like from your
volunteer council?
C. Wrapping up (estimate 5 minutes)
Let’s finish by coming back to the research
question, to define quality volunteering, and
also to look to the future of volunteering at
the British Red Cross.
1. From your point of view, what is quality
volunteering? (write on the post–it, and
stick onto flipchart) (FLIPCHART 3)
2. Is the Red Cross heading in the right di-
rection – to be an effective volunteer–led
organisation? If not, then what should
we be considering to put things back
on track? (response on post–it, and stick
onto flipchart) (FLIPCHART 4)
Thank them and close the group. Collect flip
charts...post–its etc.
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 83
C2. Staff focus groups
Preparation before the group arrive:
> Put up 3 flip charts in different parts of the
room, with the following questions on:
> FLIPCHART 1: Illustrate the volunteer
support cycle as a timeline:
1. Attracting volunteers à 2. Recruitment
& selection à 3. Initial induction &
training à 4. Deployment à 5. Co–
ordination & organisation of work à 6.
Support & management à 7. Development
opportunities à 8. Parting ways
> FLIPCHART 2: What is Quality
Volunteering?
> FLIPCHART 3: Do you think we’re
heading in the right direction?
Distribute gold stars and black dots , post–its
for the very last section
Notes & introductions (estimate 10 minutes)
Thank people for coming and introduce yourself,
the research and the aims of the session (how it
will help the organisation and how we will use
information):
1. Background to the research: Research is
looking to explore what a good volunteering
experience looks like at the British Red Cross.
We want to provide an increased
understanding of what quality volunteering
means to us (question on flipchart 2 which
we’ll come back to at the end) from the
experiences of volunteers, staff and
beneficiaries. We’re looking to identify
approaches that best support us all to deliver
our work effectively. The research will be
completed in June 2011 and a report will go
to the Senior Management Team to inform
thinking on how we develop our volunteering
offer in the future.
2. Aims/uses of this session: The purpose
of the group discussion is to give you the
opportunity to input your views and
experiences of supporting and managing
volunteers as part of the data collection
phase of the study. We want to capture what
you feel works well and what doesn’t go so
well. It’s an informal discussion and will last
about an hour.
3. Emphasise that what they say is confidential
(within the room) and any comments will be
treated anonymously. Check everyone is ok
with the discussion being taped but to
reassure this is only for own purposes and
to be able to recall the full discussion for the
analysis stage. Won’t go any further
Will have a quick whizz around the room in a
moment for introductions but before a quick
exercise...
A. Exploring the lifecycle of volunteer
planning and support (estimate 40 minutes)
On the flipchart, we’ve drawn up the timeline
of volunteer planning and support. I’d like
you think about each stage, & from your own
insights & experiences, decide which stages
you think work well for you and your service
and which ones you think don’t work so well?
(FLIPCHART 1)
Briefly talk through the 8 stages on the flipchart
and explain what the gold stars and black dots are
for... ask everyone to come up and indicate on the
visual timeline points that work well with a gold
star and stages that perhaps don’t work so well
with a black dot.
INTRODUCTIONS: When everyone’s done and
re–seated have a quick whizz around the group
with everyone introducing themselves first –
name, service and role in relation to volunteers,
how many volunteers they manage and one thing
on their mind that they’d like to share in relation
to volunteering. Take a note of who’s in the room
– staff name, role and service.
Open discussion... starting at the beginning and
reflecting on what they have indicated on the
flipchart... using the questions overleaf and probes
as necessary...
1. Volunteer planning – how do you decide what
resources you need / how many volunteers you
need to recruit? Flipchart reflection...
> What works well?
> Why does this not work so well?
What’s challenging about this?
> How could things be done better?
PROBES: Do you currently have enough
volunteers? What are your recruitment
targets this year? Who is responsible for
this planning?
2. Attracting volunteers – how do you promote
volunteering? Flipchart reflection...
> What works well?
84 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
> Why does this not work so well?
What’s challenging about this?
> How could things be done better?
PROBES: Who is responsible? Where
do you advertise?
3. How do you recruit and select volunteers?
Flipchart reflection...
> What works well?
> Why does this not work so well?
What’s challenging about this?
> How could things be done better?

PROBES: Do you recruit volunteers for
specific roles? Do you turn any volunteers
away (explore)? How long does it take to
get someone recruited?
4. Induction and initial training – how are
volunteers welcomed and prepared for their
role? Flipchart reflection...
> What works well?
> Why does this not work so well?
What’s challenging about this?
> How could things be done better?
5. Deployment and organisation – how do you
deploy then co–ordinate the work of your
volunteers? Flipchart reflection...
> What works well?
> Why does this not work so well?
What’s challenging about this?
> How could things be done better?
PROBES: How does the scheduling of
volunteer shifts happen?
6. How are volunteers managed and supported
in your service? Flipchart reflection...
> What works well?
> What doesn’t work well / is challenging
about this? What are the barriers?
> How could things be done better?
PROBES: Whether give feedback and
how? Formal/ informal? How do you make
volunteers feel valued? Do you have any
volunteers that require different kinds
of support? Examples? Volunteers with
specific skills fulfilling specialist functions?
7. What developmental opportunities are
available for volunteers in your services?
Flipchart reflection...
> What works well?
> What doesn’t work so well?
What’s challenging about this?
> How could things be done better?
PROBES: Whether share volunteers across
services? Is this of interest – to staff/ to
volunteers? Whether feel able to tap into,
know about volunteer’s individual skills
and experiences?
8. Parting ways with volunteers – what happens
when a volunteer leaves? Flipchart reflection...
> What works well?
> What doesn’t work so well?
What’s challenging about this?
> How could things be done better?
PROBES: How do you know when a
volunteer has left? Any practical issues?
Who is responsible?
B. Support and skills reflection
(estimate 10 min)
Reflecting on the discussions we’ve just had
and your experiences of what volunteers
need from you, I’ve got a few questions on
how you are supported in carrying out your
role of managing volunteers.
1. Are there any aspects of your work with
volunteers where you would welcome support
or guidance? If yes, in what areas & how? e.g.
informal one to one support , peer learning,
formal training course...
2. Have you ever had any training or learning
that has assisted you in your work with
volunteers? (quick show of hands who has
had vol mgt training)
PROBES:
> What training was it? And who
delivered it?
> How useful was it for your role? Why?
Why not?
> Or do you tap into any other forms of
support related to volunteer management?
Where do you turn to for support? col-
leagues, internet, external organisations...
how useful?
C. Wrapping up (estimate 5 minutes)
I’d like to finish by coming back to the
research question, to define quality
volunteering, and also to look to the future
of volunteering at the British Red Cross.
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 85
1. From your point of view, what is quality
volunteering? (write on the post–it, and
stick onto flipchart) (FLIPCHART 2)
2. Is the Red Cross heading in the
right direction – to be an effective
volunteer–led organisation? If not, then
what should we be considering to put
things back on track? (response on post–it,
and stick onto flipchart) (FLIPCHART 3)
Thank them and close the group. Collect flip
charts...post–its etc.
C3. Beneficiary individual
interviews
Aim of interview: To explore your experiences
of the services received from volunteers at the
British Red Cross, and to understand what you
particularly value and what doesn’t work so well.
It will help us to assess the effects of our
volunteers on people who use our services.
Please answer any questions you can but don’t
worry if you can’t answer a question. Your
answers will be kept strictly confidential and
won’t be shown to anyone else. (If taping the
discussion check the respondent’s ok with that.)
1. Were you aware that the services you receive
from this organisation were provided by
volunteers? Yes / No
2. What services or help do (or did) you receive
from British Red Cross volunteers? And for
how long?
3. How did you find out about the service you
received? (e.g. referral source, or otherwise)
4. How did you feel about the help or services
you receive from volunteers at the British Red
Cross? Please could you explain why?
PROBE IF NECESSARY: What was it about
the service that made them satisfied or not –
the amount of help received, the quality,
reliability, consistency, how tailored was it
to their needs...
5. Did the service you received meet your
expectations (and needs)? Please explain why/
why not?
6. Would you recommend the volunteers and
service to other people in a similar situation
to yourself? Yes / No / Maybe / DK
7. What are the main benefits you would
emphasise?
PROBE for specifically volunteer related
benefits.
8. What are the main drawbacks that you would
identify?
PROBE for specifically volunteer related
drawbacks.
9. Does it make a difference to you if services are
provided by volunteers or paid staff?
Yes / No / DK
Please could you explain why?
86 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
D1. Current volunteers telephone survey
Introduction
Hello, I’m calling on behalf of the British Red Cross. We recently wrote to you
regarding a research project we’re carrying out on volunteer experiences in order
to improve the way we do things. Would you be able to spare 10 minutes to tell
me about your experience as a volunteer with the British Red Cross? All of the
information will be anonymous and confidential and will only be used to help
improve what we do and the overall volunteer experience with the British
Red Cross
1. Are you a current volunteer with the British Red Cross?
Interviewer: this doesn’t have to be a regular commitment, include
those who volunteer from time to time.
> Yes à Go to Q3
> No à Go to Q2
2. Have you ever volunteered with the Red Cross?
> Yes à Go to leavers questionnaire
> No à Apologise and end the call, record outcome
3. Are you male or female?
> Male
> Female
4. How old are you? Are you:
> 25 or under 
> 26 to 35 
> 36 to 45 
> 46 to 55 
> 56 to 65 
> 66 to 75 
> 76 or over 
5. Which services or activities do you volunteer for in the British Red Cross?
Interviewer: please code all that apply
> First Aid
– Event First Aid (EFA) 
– Community Based First Aid (CBFA) 
> Emergency Response (ER)
– ER 
– Fire Emergency Support Services (FESS) 
> Refugee Services 
> ITMS (Tracing Services) 
> Health & Social Care
– Care in the Home 
– Transport & Escort 
– Medical Loan 
– Other H&SC projects 
Appendix D Survey questionnaires
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 87
> Retail 
> Fundraising 
> Youth services 
> Office admin volunteer 
> Intern 
> Other 

Please specify:
__________________________________________________________________
6. And in which Territory do you volunteer?
> Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man 
> Northern 
> Wales and Western 
> South Eastern 
> UKO 
> Don’t Know 
7. How long have you been volunteering with the Red Cross?
> Less than 6 months 
> 6 months to a year 
> 1–2 years 
> 3– 5 years 
> 6–10 years 
> 11–20 years 
> 21–30 years 
> 30 years or more 
8. And how often do you volunteer with the Red Cross, is it…?
Interviewer: read out…
> more than 1 day a week 
> One day a week 
> One or two days a month 
> A couple of times a year 
> Once a year 
> Another arrangement 

Please specify:
__________________________________________________________________
9. Do you manage or lead other volunteers as part of your role? Please
include any formal or informal part you play in organising or co–ordinating
other volunteers as well as leading and supporting other volunteers.
> Yes (in order to route to batch of questions for volunteer leaders at the end)
> No
> Don’t Know
Appendix D Survey questionnaires
88 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
I’m now going to read out a series of statements and I’d like you to tell
me whether you agree or disagree with each one. You can strongly agree,
agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree or strongly disagree. If you
don’t know then please say “don’t know” – that’s fine too.
Interviewer: code 1 strongly agree to 5 strongly disagree
Interviewer: code 6 ‘don’t know’ or ‘don’t remember’
Interviewer: please check where necessary…. (E.G. If they say agree)…
is that strongly agree or just agree?
Firstly, I’d like you to think back to when you started volunteering at the Red Cross.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following…
I was provided with clear information
about:
> the types of volunteer opportunities
available at the British Red Cross
1 2 3 4 5 6
> the recruitment process, for example
what to do and how long it would take
1 2 3 4 5 6
> any compulsory training requirements
1 2 3 4 5 6
> the expectations of me in my
volunteer role
1 2 3 4 5 6
I was keen to do more in the period
between being recruited and waiting for
the CRB and reference checks to come
1 2 3 4 5 6
Now, thinking about your current experience as a volunteer, to what
extent do you agree or disagree with the following…
I am clear about the way I am expected to
act as a Red Cross volunteer
1 2 3 4 5 6
My experience at the Red Cross has met
my expectations
1 2 3 4 5 6
Thinking about the support and training you receive as a volunteer,
to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following…
I can readily access support when
I need it
1 2 3 4 5 6
I do not have the resources I need to
carry out my role effectively, for example,
financial, equipment or other resources
1 2 3 4 5 6
I am clear who my manager is 1 2 3 4 5 6
My manager has the capacity to support
volunteers effectively
1 2 3 4 5 6
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 89
I receive feedback on my performance
from time to time
1 2 3 4 5 6
My routine volunteer activities are not well
co–ordinated
1 2 3 4 5 6
The training courses I have attended
have been good quality
1 2 3 4 5 6
I have not been able to access courses
that have been of interest to me due
to, for example, the day, the time or the
location being difficult for me
1 2 3 4 5 6
It is important to me that I can obtain
accreditation or qualifications through my
volunteering
1 2 3 4 5 6
All volunteers across the organisation
should be trained in common core skills,
and only undertake extra training when it
is needed for their specific role
1 2 3 4 5 6
In my opinion, some of the training I’m
required to do is not really necessary
1 2 3 4 5 6
I would like to know more about how I
can progress as a Red Cross volunteer
1 2 3 4 5 6
Please think about how the organisation involves you as a volunteer
and how valued you feel. To what extent do you agree or disagree
with the following…
I feel able to give my views on issues
such as how to improve the way we do
things
1 2 3 4 5 6
I would like more opportunities to express
my views
1 2 3 4 5 6
I feel my views are taken into account
1 2 3 4 5 6
I have the opportunity to engage in
discussions that impact on my
volunteering
1 2 3 4 5 6
I feel trusted to carry out my role
effectively
1 2 3 4 5 6
Staff and volunteers do not work well
together in my team
1 2 3 4 5 6
On the whole, I feel valued by Red
Cross staff
1 2 3 4 5 6
90 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Overall, I value the work of Red
Cross staff
1 2 3 4 5 6
Staff seem more valued than volunteers
in the organisation
1 2 3 4 5 6
The next few statements are about how flexible you think your
volunteering is. Please say to what extent you agree or disagree
with the following…
There are too many rules and regulations
that restrict what I can do as a volunteer
at the Red Cross
1 2 3 4 5 6
I have skills and experience I am not
currently using in my role that I could
contribute to the organisation
1 2 3 4 5 6
I am not aware of other volunteering
opportunities in the organisation
1 2 3 4 5 6
I feel that, if I want to, I can move from
one role to another and am not limited
to a specific service or part of the
organisation
1 2
3
4 5 6
I am not really interested in volunteering
for more than 1 service or activity
Interviewer Note: if they already do
volunteer for more than one activity
code 7
1 2 3 4 5 6
I could be interested in becoming a
volunteer leader in the future. This might
entail, for example, co–ordinating or
supporting other volunteers
1 2 3 4 5 6
And to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following
statements about volunteers in general…
In my experience, volunteers are happy
to work alongside a diverse group
of people
1 2 3 4 5 6
I feel there are barriers to engaging
volunteers from a wide range of
backgrounds
1 2 3 4 5 6
In my experience, volunteers respect the
Red Cross’ fundamental principles in their
behaviour. INTERVIEWER: in case they
ask, our fundamental principles are Unity,
Universality, Neutrality, Independence,
Voluntary service, Humanity, Impartiality,
1 2 3 4 5 6
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 91
Only ask those who said ‘yes’ to question 9
You mentioned earlier that you manage or lead other volunteers as
a part of your role. Please think about the following statements in
relation to your experience in this. To what extent do you agree or
disagree with the following...
The organisation commits adequate
resources to support volunteering, for
example, financial, equipment or other
resources
1 2 3 4 5 6
I feel there are clear criteria on the skills
and abilities which volunteers need for
various roles
1 2 3 4 5 6
I have had clear guidance on how best
to support volunteers
1 2 3 4 5 6
I would like more support in my role of
leading or managing other volunteers
1 2 3 4 5 6
I would be interested in doing a profes-
sionally accredited training course in
volunteer management
1 2 3 4 5 6
For volunteer managers, I think
leadership and coaching skills are
more important than supervisory and
management skills
1 2 3 4 5 6
When volunteers leave we make sure
we get their feedback
1 2 3 4 5 6
I’d like to ask how strongly you feel connected to the organisation
in terms of the local centre or place where you volunteer, the service
or activity that you are doing, the national organisation of the British
Red Cross, and the international movement.
You can respond very strongly connected, quite strongly connected,
not very strongly connected, not connected at all. So, how strongly
do you feel connected to…
1 = very strongly, 2 = quite strongly, 3 = not very strongly, 4 = not at all, 5 = don’t know
1. … the local centre or place where
you volunteer
1 2 3 4 5
2. … the service or activity you are doing
1 2 3 4 5
3. … the national organisation of the
British Red Cross
1 2 3 4 5
4. …. the International Movement of Red
Cross and Red Crescent Societies
1 2 3 4 5
92 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
And finally…
1. What, in your opinion, are the most important things for the Red
Cross to consider to enable a good experience for volunteers?
2. Do you have any specific suggestions for how we might improve
things for our volunteers?
That’s all the questions. Thank you very much for taking part in this survey.
I’d like to assure you that the information you have given will be kept confidential.
Finally, just to mention that later this year, we’ll be running our biennial Have
Your Say survey. This survey collects the views of staff and volunteers to see
how the organisation is performing and what we can improve on. More
information about how you can take part will be available in the autumn.
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 93
D2. Former volunteers telephone survey
Note: callers to be routed here if they are no longer volunteering…
1. How long ago did you stop volunteering for the Red Cross?
> Less than 6 months 
> 6 months to a year 
> 1-2 years 
> 3-5 years 
> 6-10 years 
> 11 years or more 
2. And what were your main reasons for stopping volunteering?
__________________________________________________________________
Interviewer: please enter full response above and code this below
> Personal reasons
> Health reasons
> Moving out of the area
> Taken up paid employment
> Dissatisfaction with volunteering
> Other
3. Overall, how satisfied or unsatisfied were you with your volunteering
experience at the British Red Cross. Were you… READ OUT…
> Very satisfied 
> Satisfied 
> Neither satisfied nor unsatisfied 
> Unsatisfied 
> Very unsatisfied 
> Don’t know 
If unsatisfied or very unsatisfied, please explain why
__________________________________________________________________
4. We’re trying to improve the volunteer experience at the British Red
Cross. What, if anything, could we have done better to enable you to
continue volunteering?
__________________________________________________________________
5. Would you consider volunteering for the Red Cross again at some
point in the future?
> Yes 
> No 
> Don’t know 
6. Would you still like to receive updates from the Red Cross?
> Yes  à Go to Q7
> No 
7. Would you prefer these updates by email or by post?
> Email 
> Post 
94 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
D3. Staff online survey
We’re carrying out some research on volunteering at the British Red Cross
in order to improve the way we do things. Would you be able to spare 10 minutes
to tell me about your experience of supporting or working alongside volunteers
with the British Red Cross?
The research aims to provide an increased understanding of what quality
volunteering means at the British Red Cross from the experiences of volunteers,
staff and beneficiaries and identify approaches that best support staff and
volunteers to deliver our work effectively
All of the information will be anonymous and confidential and will only be used
to help improve what we do at the British Red Cross
1. Job title/post:

__________________________________________________________________
2. How long have you worked for the British Red Cross?
> Less than 1 year 
> 1-2 years 
> 3-5 years 
> 6-10 years 
> 11 years or more 
3. Which services or activities do you work for in the British Red Cross?
Please tick all that apply.
> Community Based First Aid 
> Event First Aid 
> Emergency Response 
> Fire and Emergency Support Services 
> Fundraising 
> Health & Social Care 
> ITMS (Tracing Services) 
> Refugee Services 
> Retail 
> Red Cross Training 
> Office support services (e.g. Finance, HR,
Communications, Admin…) 
> Youth & Schools services 
> Other 
Please specify:
__________________________________________________________________
4. And in which Territory do you work?
> Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man 
> Northern 
> Wales and Western 
> South Eastern 
> UKO 
> Other 
Please specify:
__________________________________________________________________
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 95
5. Does your role involve managing, supporting or co-ordinating
the activities of volunteers?
> Yes, a lot 
> No, a little 
> No  à Please go to the last
2 questions in this
survey
6. What is your contact with volunteers in the organisation?
Please tick all that apply.
> Directly manage 
> Help to supervise/ support 
> Work alongside 
> Support staff who manage volunteers 
> I am also a volunteer 
> Other, please specify ________________________________________ 
Please tell me how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following
statements. If you don’t know then please tick “don’t know”.
Note that when questions refer to “we” or “our” we’d like you to think about
the people or team of staff and volunteers you work with on a day to day basis.
Firstly, thinking about volunteer recruitment from your experience, in your
service or team at the Red Cross. To what extent do you agree or disagree
with the following…
Strongly
agree
Strongly
disagree
Don’t
know
Our team annual plans include
objectives for the recruitment of
volunteers
1 2 3 4 5 6
We need more volunteers to
be able to carry out our work
effectively
1 2 3 4 5 6
People interested in volunteering
are provided with clear information
about:
> the types of volunteer
opportunities available at the
British Red Cross
1 2 3 4 5 6
> the recruitment process, for
example, what to do and how
long it will take
1 2 3 4 5 6
> any compulsory training
requirements
1 2 3 4 5 6
> our expectations of them in their
volunteer role
1 2 3 4 5 6
> what they can expect from the
the Red Cross
1 2 3 4 5 6
96 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Strongly
agree
Strongly
disagree
Don’t
know
I feel there are clear criteria on the
skills and abilities which volunteers
need for various roles
1 2 3 4 5 6
We could use volunteers’ time and
skills better in the period between
being recruited and waiting for the
CRB and reference checks to come
1 2 3 4 5 6
I feel there are barriers to
engaging volunteers from a wide
range of backgrounds
1 2 3 4 5 6
Strategic
Strongly
agree
Strongly
disagree
Don’t
know
In my view, the organisation
commits adequate resources to
support volunteering, for example
financial, equipment or other
resources
1 2 3 4 5 6
I regularly seek the views of
volunteers on issues such as how
to improve the way we do things
1 2 3 4 5 6
Volunteer views are taken into
account when we plan and make
decisions about our work
1 2 3 4 5 6
When volunteers leave we make
sure we get their feedback
1 2 3 4 5 6
Volunteers should be free to move
from one role to another, if they
want to, and not be limited to
specific services or roles
1 2 3 4 5 6
All volunteers across the
organisation should be trained
in common core skills and only
undertake extra training when it
is needed in their specific role
1 2 3 4 5 6
On the whole, I feel volunteers
have a good understanding of
the boundaries of their role.
1 2 3 4 5 6
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 97
Support
Strongly
agree
Strongly
disagree
Don’t
know
I have the resources I need to
support volunteers effectively, for
example, financial, equipment or
other resources
1 2 3 4 5 6
I have had clear guidance on how
best to support volunteers
1 2 3 4 5 6
I would like more support in my
role of managing volunteers
1 2 3 4 5 6
I would be interested in doing a
professionally accredited training
course in volunteer management
1 2 3 4 5 6
For volunteer managers, I think
leadership and coaching skills are
more important than supervisory
and management skills
1 2 3 4 5 6
Volunteers who supervise other
volunteers are provided with the
necessary support, training and
other resources to do their work
1 2 3 4 5 6
Volunteers can readily access
support when they need it
1 2 3 4 5 6
The management structures at
the British Red Cross are not
supportive of staff who challenge
inappropriate behaviour from
volunteers
1 2 3 4 5 6
The difference between the role
of the UK Office volunteering team
and the role of the area or territory
volunteering teams, are not clear
1 2 3 4 5 6
Value
Strongly
agree
Strongly
disagree
Don’t
know
I value the work of Red Cross
volunteers
1 2 3 4 5 6
I feel valued by Red Cross
volunteers
1 2 3 4 5 6
98 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Strongly
agree
Strongly
disagree
Don’t
know
Volunteers seem more valued than
staff within this organisation
1 2 3 4 5 6
I can trust volunteers to carry out
their role effectively
1 2 3 4 5 6
Staff and volunteers work well
together in my team
1 2 3 4 5 6
I am confident that we provide
consistently good quality support
to our beneficiaries or those we
are working with
1 2 3 4 5 6
We don’t ask our beneficiaries
enough for their opinions in
delivering our services
1 2 3 4 5 6
On the whole, volunteers are happy
to work alongside a diverse group
of people
1 2 3 4 5 6
On the whole, volunteers respect
the Red Cross’ fundamental
principles in their behaviour
1 2 3 4 5 6
And finally…
1. What, in your opinion, are the most important things for the Red
Cross to consider to best support staff and volunteers to deliver
our work effectively?
2. Do you have any specific suggestions for how we might
improve things?
That’s all the questions. Thank you very much for taking part in this survey.
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 99
TABLE 4 MODELS OF MANAGING VOLUNTEERS: MODERN VERSUS HOMEGROWN –
A QUICK SUMMARY
“Modern” “Home grown”
Aim of organisation Most perfectly structured and
efficient bureaucracy
Fullest expression of core values
Form of authority Formal and universal: maximum
application of rules and procedures
Informal and ad hoc: maximum
application of values
Role of volunteers/
employees
Equal (both “human resources) Different in principle but potentially
equal in practice
Distribution of
authority between
volunteers and
employees
Hierarchical, with volunteers
subordinate to employees
Shared, with volunteers and
employees as partners
Control Direct, formal Indirect, loose
Social relations Functional relations with managers
and employees
Permeable boundaries: personal/
functional relations between and
among volunteers, managers,
employees, clients, members etc.
Criteria for recruitment
and advancement
Process–based; equal opportunities,
risk management
Intuitive: shared ideals and interests,
friendships
Incentive structure Intrinsic, with most emphasis on
most employee–like (expenses,
training)
Intrinsic, with emphasis on fulfilment,
enjoyment
Construction of tasks Maximum division of labour
(e.g. between “intellectual” and
“mechanical”)
Minimum division of labour
Construction of
expertise
Specialist Generalist
Source: Zimmeck, 2001
Appendix E Comparing two models for
managing volunteers
100 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Brewis, G., Hill, M., & Stevens, D. (2010).
Valuing Volunteer Management Skills, Institute
for Volunteering Research. Summary at http://
www.ivr.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/ADA89203–
CA46–4E21–BBFB–F79A2F7D2854/0/Valuing_
volunteer_management_skills_summary.pdf,
full report http://www.skills–thirdsector.org.uk/
documents/Skills_report_final.pdf
Cameron, H. (1999/ 2007). Are members
Volunteers? An exploration of the concept of
membership based on the study of local churches,
Voluntary Action 1(2) pp.53–66.
Department for Communities and Local
Government (2010). Citizenship Survey 2009–10
and 2008–9, DCLG http://www.communities.
gov.uk/communities/research/citizenshipsurvey/
recentreports/
Ellis, S., & McCurley, S. (2011) What is
“Quality” volunteering? e–volunteerism. http://
www.e–volunteerism.com/volume–xi–issue–2–
january–2011/points–view/1039
Ellis Paine, A, Ockenden, N and Stuart, J (2010)
Volunteers in Hybrid Organisations: A
Marginalised majority? in Hybrid Organisations
and the Third Sector, Palgrave Macmillan.
Evans, E., & Saxton, J. (2005) The 21st
Century Volunteer: A report on the changing face
of volunteering in the 21
st
Century, nfpsynergy for
the Scout Association. http://www.nfpsynergy.net/
includes/documents/cm_docs/2010/2/21st_
century_volunteer.pdf

Gaskin, K. (2003) A choice blend: What
volunteers want from organisation and
management, IVR and the England
Volunteering Forum. http://www.volunteering.
org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/C2D97CE0–017F–4BF1–
8120–68B08ADD8D26/0/choicblend.pdf

Goodall, R. (2000). Organising cultures:
volunteerism & professionalism in UK Charity
Shops, Voluntary Action Journal. http://www.ivr.
org.uk/VA+Documents%2fVA3_1%2farticle3_
goodall.pdf

Handy, F., Brodeur, N., & Cnaan, R. (2006).
Summer on the Island: Episodic volunteering,
Voluntary Action 7(3) pp.31–46.
Hill, M. (2011). Volunteering and the recession.
The Institute for Volunteering Research
Thinkpiece. http://www.ivr.org.uk/News/
Thinkpieces

Hurley, N., Wilson, L., & Christie, I. (2008).
Scottish Household Survey Analytical Report:
Volunteering, Scottish Government Social
Research.

Locke, M., Ellis, A., & Davis Smith, J. (2003)
Hold on to what you’ve got: the volunteer
retention literature, Voluntary Action
Journal, Vol 5, No.3. http://www.ivr.org.uk/
VA+Documents%2fVA5_3%2farticle5_lockeetal.
pdf

Low, N., Butt, S., Ellis Paine, A., and Davis
Smith, J. (2007) Helping Out: A national survey
of volunteering and charitable giving, Cabinet
Office: London
Macduff, N. (2005). Societal changes and the
rise of the Episodic volunteer, in J. Brudney (eds)
Emerging areas of volunteering. ARNOVA
Occasional Paper Series 1, 2 Indianapolis.
Meijs, L., & Hoogstad, E. (2001). New Ways of
Managing Volunteers: Combining membership
management and programme management,
Voluntary Action 3(3) pp.41–61
Murray, V., & Harrison, Y. (2005). Virtual
Volunteering, in J. Brudney (eds) Emerging areas
of volunteering. ARNOVA Occasional Paper
Series 1, 2 Indianapolis.
Omoto, A.M., & Snyder, M. (2008).
Volunteerism: Social Issues Perspectives and
Social Policy Implications. Social Issues and
Policy Review, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2008, pp. 1–36
Rochester, C., Ellis–Paine, A., & Howlett, S.
(2010), Volunteering and Society in the 21
st

Century, Palgrave Macmillan, http://www.
palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=292515

Sibley, M. (2010). From Bean Counting to
Behaviour Analysis, Paper for Volunteering
Counts conference, held in March 2010, co–
organised by the Institute for Volunteering
Research, Volunteer Development Scotland, the
Wales Council for Voluntary Action and the
Appendix F External literature reading list
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 101
Volunteer Development Agency, Northern Ireland.
Paper submitted by BTCV. http://www.ivr.org.uk/
events/Past+Events/Vol+Counts
Staetsky, L. (2010). Individual voluntary
participation in the United Kingdom: An overview
of survey information, Third Sector Research
Centre. Briefing and working paper series 6.
http://www.tsrc.ac.uk/Research/Quantitative-
Analysis/Individualvoluntaryparticipationin-
theUK/tabid/520/Default.aspx
Stuart, J. (2009). Strong Foundations: Reviewing
Crisis volunteering programme, IVR.
The Institute for Volunteering Research (2006).
Unlocking the potential. Reviewing the Wildlife
Trusts project to strengthen volunteering. http://
www.ivr.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/61B5DCA2–
DE33–47C7–9C67–727D692E7DF7/0/
wildlife_trust.pdf
Zimmeck, M. (2001) The Right Stuff: New
ways of thinking about managing volunteers, IVR.
http://www.ivr.org.uk/Migrated+Resources%2fD
cuments%2fR%2fThe_Right_Stuff.pdf
Appendix F External literature reading list
102 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Note: This does not claim to be an exhaustive list of all projects but highlights
those that came to light during the research. It shows the huge breadth and
range of internal information gathering that is taking place across the
organisation related to volunteering.
TABLE 5 INTERNAL RESEARCH PROJECTS RELATED TO VOLUNTEERING
Projects are listed in descending order of their year of completion,
i.e. the most recently completed projects first.
Name of
project/
report Contact Aim/ Further details
Year
completed/
published Area
The Volunteer
Motivation
and Retention
Project
Jessica
Lightfoot &
Carlton Jones
To increase understanding of
what makes a quality volunteer
experience and to identify how
we can support and motivate
volunteers to remain with the
British Red Cross for as long as
possible.
2011 London
Volunteer social
evening (forum)
non–attender
survey –
Manchester
Linzi Crossley
To find out what might encourage
volunteers to attend forums with the
overall aim to improve activities and
make volunteering for the British
Red Cross a rewarding experience.
2011
Lancs,
Merseyside
& Greater
Manchester
Volunteer
recruitment
survey 2010
Nancy Elkins
To benchmark our recruitment
and induction process and identify
where good practice is taking place
and how best to share this.
2011 National
Review of
volunteer
councils and
Volunteer
Representation
Guidance
Nancy Elkins
Guidance produced following
the review to support good
representation in the quality local
experience in volunteering.
2011 National
Volunteer
experience –
developmental
research
Paul
Robinson &
Janet Crick
To explore current practice and
staff aspirations in relation to
volunteering in order to enhance
the volunteer experience.
2011
Hampshire,
Surrey & Isle
of Wight
Volunteer
Project
Paige Earlam
& Linzi
Crossley
To research the volunteering
experience from the point of view
of staff and volunteers and explore
successful areas and challenging
issues.
2011
Lancs,
Merseyside
& Greater
Manchester
Appendix G Internal research projects
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 103
Name of
project/
report Contact Aim/ Further details
Year
completed/
published Area
Learning
Organisation
Baseline Survey
at the British
Red Cross
Alison
McNulty
& Femi
Nzegwu
To provide a baseline measurement
of organisational learning at the
British Red Cross and a way of
tracking movements towards this
goal in the future
2011 National
The Value of
Volunteers
International
Federation
To explore, establish and report on
the economic and social value of
volunteering (data was collected
across all National Societies). The
IFRC is commited to creating an
enabling environment for volunteers
and ensure all volunteers can
provide a meaningful contribution.
2011 International
Mystery
Shopping
Survey 2010.
Responding to
Young People
Karen
Sheldon
To evaluate the staff’s speed of
response, helpfulness, level of
enthusiasm and adherence to
British Red Cross standards when
responding to enquiries.
2010 National
Young people
and the Red
Cross – Here
for good survey
Karen
Sheldon
The original research project was
carried out in 2006 to explore and
develop a new strategy to enhance
the quality and develop the reach
of the involvement of young people
across the British Red Cross. This
research was repeated to obtain
further feedback from young
volunteers on how we can attract
and retain more young people.
2010 National
Excellence
awards
nominations
Simon De
Lacy Leacy
To showcase and promote
examples of good practice in all
service areas across the UK. One of
the categories for the 2010 Awards
focused on volunteering – Making
volunteers count.
2010 National
Volunteer
Report South
West Wales.
Health &
Social Care
Barry Miles
This report aims to provide
information and an overview in
relation to changes in volunteer
recruitment, deployment and
management in South West Wales.
2010 Wales
Volunteer
Satisfaction
Survey
Janet
Williams &
Laura Clays
A baseline survey in order to
measure improvements to enhance
the volunteering experience
exploring specific elements such
as recruitment, engagement etc.
2010 Wales
104 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Name of
project/
report Contact Aim/ Further details
Year
completed/
published Area
Engaging
with Young
Volunteers in
Mid Scotland
and Argyll.
Understanding
young person
volunteer
participation
Thea Tomison
To ascertain whether Mid Scotland
and Argyll have fallen behind the
rest of Scotland in terms of youth
participation and suggest ways in
which volunteer numbers can be
increased.
2010
Mid Scotland
and Argyll
Volunteers’
Week 2010.
Project
evaluation
Penny Sims
To evaluate how the Big Red Bus
initiative worked during volunteer
week in achieving it’s aim of
increasing awareness of
opportunities and recruitment
of retail volunteers.
2010 National
Improving
the volunteer
experience,
Derby
University
Study
Rebekah
Neelin
To identify what constitutes the
best quality volunteering experience
and feed into the overall aim of
improving the volunteer experience
across the Area.
2010
Derbyshire,
Notts &
Cheshire
Engaging
with University
Students:
Working with
University
Groups and
Individual
Students
Louise Halpin
Guidance to establish, support and
recruit university groups in SNIIOM
2010
Scotland,
Northern
Ireland & the
Isle of Man
Presidents and
Patrons review
Annie
Bibbings
To explore how presidents,
vice presidents and patrons
undertake their roles and make
recommendations for change.
2010 National
Defining
resilience at
the British
Red Cross
Femi Nzegwu
Overall aim of this study is to
develop a conceptual definition
of resilience within the British
Red Cross & a framework for
operationalising its use in the
work of the organisation.
2010 National
Volunteer
fundraiser
recruitment
survey
Pippa
Westwood
A survey of community fundraising
staff exploring volunteer
recruitment.
2010 National
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 105
Name of
project/
report Contact Aim/ Further details
Year
completed/
published Area
Positive Images
conference
report (2010)
MyrthaWaite
This report highlights the interim
learning from the postitive images
project, particularly related to youth
awareness–raising activites on
migration issues.
2010 National
Volunteer
Healthcheck
Pilot
Nancy Elkins
To explore Area baseline
levels against indicators relating
to volunteer recruitment, training
and services in order to enable
ongoing measurement of progress
and development.
2010
Derbyshire,
Notts &
Cheshire
Have Your Say
Survey 2009
Nancy Linton
To explore staff and volunteer views
on a number of themes around
working/volunteering for the Red
Cross, and to understand where the
organisation could do more to
support the workforce.
2009 National
Internship
project
evaluation
Kate Appleby
To evaluate the spread of
internships across the
organisation and promotion of
internships through internal and
external communication channels.
2009 National
Refugee
services –
volunteer
experiences?
Sue Yin
& Sarah
Davidson
To explore how refugees
volunteering with refugees feel,
talk about themselves and their
volunteering role. This was carried
out by a student at the University
of East London who completed a
report titled A discourse analysis of
how refugee volunteers talk about
themselves and their experiences
of volunteering.
2009 London
Volunteer Exit
Pilot Report Syed Haque
To understand and record why
volunteers leave the British Red
Cross and to make
recommendations on how best
to capture this information.
2009 National
Diversity
involving
muslim
youth
Karen
Sheldon
To explore how the British Red
Cross can attract more BME
volunteers, focusing on
Muslim youth
2009 National
Evaluation of
British Red
Cross volunteer
placements
Phillip Vollie
and Lynne
Tinsley
(SchoolZone)
To evaluate volunteer placements at
the British Red Cross and why the
volunteers felt how they did.
2008 National
106 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Name of
project/
report Contact Aim/ Further details
Year
completed/
published Area
After the floods:
the lessons for
recovery
Cathy Sharp,
Danny Burns
(SOLAR) and
Lisa Bass ( )
To explore the emerging lessons
from an action research project
looking at how the British Red
Cross can work with external
partners in best meeting the needs
of people during the recovery stage
of a major incident. To develop
a range of services provided by
the British Red Cross to meet the
needs of people affected by
flooding.
2008 Yorkshires
Re–engaging
with First Aid
Trainers
Charlotte
Franolic
To improve the development of
capacity and support systems and
to gain an understanding of how to
better engage trainers at the British
Red Cross.
2007 National
Review of
volunteer
awards
HR &
Education
To review the awards & recognition
scheme to ensure it reflects the
desires of current volunteers & to
ensure the awards scheme is
attractive to potential volunteers.
2007 National
Rethinking
vulnerability
Emily Laurie
To re–evaluate the organisation’s
work with vulnerable people: to
review who we should be working
with effectively.
2007 National
Youth
representation
and
participation
in decision–
making in the
British Red
Cross
Karen
Sheldon
To seek and test ways to ensure
that young volunteers (15–25 year
olds) are able to influence the
organisation at every level. 2007 National
Taking
volunteers
seriously
International
Federation
To evaluate the progress of
volunteering internationally, and
to help National Societies provide
a favourable internal and external
environment that encourages and
facilitates the work of volunteers,
and that promotes volunteerism
across all sectors of society.
2007 International
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 107
Name of
project/
report Contact Aim/ Further details
Year
completed/
published Area
Making a
difference
through
volunteering –
the impact of
volunteers who
support and
care for people
at home
Liz Urben
To identify and emphasise the
contribution of volunteers involved
in supporting people also receiving
other health and social care
support from statutory services,
usually linked with home care
services. This project was carried
out in partnership with Help the
Aged and CSV.
2006 National
Attracting
volunteers
amongst the
general pulic
BrandEnergy
Research
To provide information to help
support British Red Cross initiatives
to attract more volunteers into the
organisation.
2006 National
Engaging
adults –
Red Cross
positioning
BrandEnergy
Research
To explore how adults perceive
the British Red Cross and other
charities, and their views about
supporting the organisation.
2006 National
Engaging
young people
BrandEnergy
Research
To explore young peoples
pereptions and attitudes towards
supporting the Red Cross, and how
best for the orgisation to engage
with young people.
2006 National
New, dynamic,
innovative
volunteering
opportunities
for young
people
Steve
Brennan
To detail positive experiences from
young volunteers and to identify
areas where more work may need
to be done with young volunteers
in the British Red Cross.
2006 Staffs, West
Mids & Warks
Changing
Humanity –
A report
into the
nature of
humanitarian-
ism in the
21st Century
Elisha Evans
& Joe Saxton
(nfpsynergy)
The purpose of this report is to look
at the changing nature of our hu-
manity and how organisations like
the British Red Cross can spread
humanitarianism.
2005 National
Diversity
and Values
Project:
Diversity
Review
Managing
Divesity
Associates
(MDA)
To determine where the
organisation is on diversity, and
what it needs to do to make any
appropriate changes. To locate
gaps between organisation policy
and practice.
2004 National
108 Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross
Ongoing or forthcoming projects
Reasons for leaving Jonathan
McDonnell
To investigate reasons for leaving,
motivation for starting volunteering and
whether expectations of volunteering within
the British Red Cross were met. Telephone
interviews being done by a member of the
volunteer council.
Lincs,
Rutland,
Northants
& Leics.
Recruitment and
induction process in
Northern Ireland
John Lyttle
Objective is to test the perceptions of
recently recruited volunteers to the modern
British Red Cross induction process as part
of continual improvement
Northern
Ireland
Communication and
volunteer councils
Joseph
Turrent
A survey to volunteer councils to gain
feedback on communications across the
Territory.
South
Eastern
Territory
Volunteer satisfaction Brenda Allan
A follow up to the Have Your Say survey
to explore volunteer satisfaction across
the Area. Being carried out within the
communications team.
North East
& Cumbria
Volunteer recruitment Sally Kilner
To research avenues of recruiting both
young and adult volunteers who can
support the service delivery in West
Yorkshire. To include desk based research
and consultation with partner agencies to
assess volunteer participation. Being carried
out within the Youth and Schools team.
Yorkshires
Experiences of young
volunteers
Katherine
Lorraine
To investigate parity in the experience of
young volunteers. Being carried out within
the Schools and Community Engagement
team at UKO.
National
Photo credits are listed from left to right, in clockwise order © BRC
Front Cover: Steve Watkins, Callum Bennets/Maverick Photo Agency, Page 5: Jonathan Banks, Page 6: Anthony Upton,
Page 8: Claudia Janke, Page 9: Derek Gordon, Page 10: Jonathan Banks, Page 13: Stephen Latimer, Page 14: Elise
Blackshaw, Page 16: Anthony Upton, Page 19: Alex Rumford, Page 21: Derek Gordon, Page 22: Tony Hall, Page 24: Paul
Macabe/UNP, Page 25: Layton Thompson, Page 28: Layton Thompson, Page 31: Lloyd Sturdy, Page 35: Anthony Upton,
Page 36: Jonathan Banks, Page 38: Tim George/UNP, Page 41: Lloyd Sturdy, Page 42: Tim George/UNP, Page 45: Kate
Lee, Page 46: Tony Hall, Page 48: Paul Macabe/UNP, Page 51: Steve Watkins, Page 53: Harriet Armstrong, Page 54:
Jonathan Banks, Page 56: Lloyd Sturdy, Page 59: Lloyd Sturdy, Page 60: Julian Hamilton, Page 62: Pete Willows, Page
65: Alex Rumford, Page 67: Hannah Maule-ffinch, Page 92: Alex Rumford
Quality volunteering at the British Red Cross 109
British Red Cross
UK Office
44 Moorfields
London
EC2Y 9AL
The British Red Cross Society,
incorporated by Royal Charter 1908,
is a charity registered in England
and Wales (220949) and Scotland
(SC037738) redcross.org.uk

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