Volunteer packing food parcels

How Investing in Volunteers helps organisations cope with crisis

Published: 05/08/20 | Categories: Author: Korina Tsioni

In this blog Quality Mark Development Officer Korina Tsioni explains Investing in Volunteers (IiV) and how quality assurance is relevant during and after a crisis.

IiV is the quality mark for organisation who are managing volunteers, and it has been going strong before and during lockdown.

The last few months, many voluntary organisations have had to pause their work; others were born to meet local needs; and some managed to continue providing services and working on their quality assurance at the same time.

‘We really value our volunteers’

Discovery Student Volunteering Swansea achieved their IiV award for the fourth time in May mid lockdown – here is it what they said about their work with us:

‘IiV means that now, as we rapidly adjust our services and opportunities in response to the Covid crisis we know that, by working within the framework IiV has provided, we can adapt safely and positively.

‘We believe IiV demonstrates all the hard work that staff, trustees and our volunteers do constantly to maintain the high standards expected of an organisation awarded the quality mark.’

Barod i helpu

Barod is a registered charity that supports anyone who has been affected by their own or someone else’s substance misuse.

Barod began as a volunteer-led project in 1972 and volunteering is still very much at the heart of what they do now. Barod achieved their first award in April 2020!

‘For us, being recognised for the Investing in Volunteers Award was important because we want to ensure that our volunteers get the most out of their experience with us.

‘We see the Investing in Volunteers Award as a means of keeping us at the forefront of the best practice around volunteering, and a way to regularly assess ourselves and how we support and develop volunteers.

‘For our volunteers, it’s an assurance that we are doing the best we can for them, that we are committed to them as individuals and that we have a safe and effective process in place.’

What IiV Assessors told us

The Investing in Volunteers team consists of many Welsh and English speaking assessors who are delivering all their work virtually at the moment. We had several successful organisations taking IiV on board and are at the moment at different stages of the journey.

I spoke with Paul Bevan, one of our active assessors running assessments online.

‘Quality assurance can make a huge difference to the service people receive,’ says Paul.

‘Having robust, well tried and tested practices in place makes it easier to adapt to a crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘The online assessment meant that the non-verbal communication and nuances were missed, that usually adds a richness to meeting people face-to-face.

‘However, it felt as though it reduced some people’s feelings of concern or nervousness about being interviewed by an assessor.

‘We had relaxed conversations resulting in people giving good, honest and thoughtful information. Doing the assessment online was very manageable as an assessor, and I felt it was a comfortable and easy experience for staff and volunteers.

‘It was a quicker process for volunteers and staff as we had a focussed interview at a pre-arranged time, saving travel time and other distractions.’

Looking ahead

The quality assessment workforce has been working through lockdown to ensure that quality is at its highest level and that evidence is being monitored and reported appropriately.

As the national body managing IiV in Wales, our team will be sharing the learning that has come from this period of rapid change with the wider IiV UK team to help us plan for the future of volunteering quality assurance and how it is delivered.

In the meantime, we have been pleased to see that organisations are valuing the opportunity to use the standards as a tool for reflection and to undergo the assessment when they feel ready to do so.

Charter for volunteering and workplace relationships

As organisations seek to engage volunteers in their work, some for the first time, or in different ways, it’s a valuable time to take a look at the Charter for volunteering and workplace relationships – produced jointly with WCVA and Wales TUC to strengthen relationships between paid and unpaid staff.

The charter sets out principles for involving volunteers so as to promote a healthy and harmonious workplace.

Interested in IiV?

At WCVA, we believe IiV is the best framework for a voluntary organisation to improve their volunteers’ management as it covers the whole volunteer’s journey within your organisation.

The framework divides the volunteer’s journey into nine different areas, to help you with your monitoring and recording.

You can find the free framework online and start the discussion within your team. IiV is definitely a team job, as everyone plays the role in the volunteer’s journey.

To download the standard or to find out more about the award, visit the IiV website. If you’re interested in speaking to us about IiV to share your thoughts, concerns or ideas, please get in touch with us at ktsioni@wcva.cymru – we’d be happy to hear from you.