Volunteers packing food boxes

Investing in Volunteers – views from an assessor

Published: 18/11/21 | Categories: Volunteering, Author: Bob Hughes

Investing in Volunteers (IiV) is the UK quality standard for volunteering. Bob Hughes, IiV’s lead assessor in Wales, tells us all about choosing to become an IiV Assessor.

While I retired five years ago from work in an independent organisation – and as a leadership-development specialist, for the previous 18 years the focus of most of my time and contracts involved assessment of organisation development needs – Investors in People, Training Quality Standards, and Investing in Volunteers.

I’ve chosen to retire from all assessment work, except for Investing in Volunteers, and the reason for retaining these opportunities is simple – it was (and still is, in my view) the standard that has enabled me to more readily promote ‘continuous improvement’ as the primary reason for seeking an assessment (and subsequent reviews).

I believe that this is attributable to the fact that for many years, the need to offer a wide range of reliable, high quality care – support, to individuals and local communities in particular, has been steadily increasing – as the availability of government and European funding, and Local Authority funding, has been steadily reducing.

As a consequence, the organisations I have been supporting have been seeking a means by which to enable them to identify, recruit, develop and retain volunteers who are keen to make their own contribution to society and, oftentimes, return the support they have received from third sector organisations in the past.


Of course, the pandemic and the imposition of restrictions has caused a hiatus in volunteering activities (though I am experiencing a gradual return to a new normal). In the meantime, and while delivering some Zoom Workshops on the 2021 Investing in Volunteers standard, I am pleased to say that the reasons quoted by the organisations I work with remain much the same:

‘We need to take more care to recruit people who have the commitment to help us to get more care to more people. And to take better care of them!’

Half the organisations I am working with are also looking to recruit volunteers who can be flexible (with appropriate training, obviously) to deliver a broadening range of services, within and between, volunteer organisations.

So much so that I wonder if we might see more frequent transfer of volunteers within, or even between, organisations. If so, this would probably enable volunteering to increasingly be a source of learning new skills, personal self-development, and routes to other opportunities.

I can hope that, if this is turns out to be the case, that organisations can consider coordination and facilitation to the benefit of the third sector, and to local communities…


Newcomer organisations – fresh to the 2021 standard – seem very comfortable, following the introductory workshop, to proceed to the next stage of self-assessment. I am most firmly of the opinion that the rationalisation and simplification of the Quality Areas, and clarity of the wording throughout, are being seen by ‘my’ client organisations (who were seeking a review against the former standard) as steps forward in themselves. All those that have transferred to the 2021 standard would seem to support this.

Clearly, I am as yet unable to provide objective information about ‘what’s happening out there’ – but as recently as yesterday, I received the good news that ‘my first’ organisation (post COVID) has just completed the Self-Assessment and is now in a position to present it to their board for approval. In the meantime, volunteering activities are resuming, but very slowly.

The 2021 standard gets a thumbs up from me with regard to its more reader-friendly language, and simplified process; it’s a shame that the pandemic seems to still be putting the brakes on more rapid progress.


To find out more about the Investing in Volunteers (IiV) standard and how it could benefit you visit our IiV page. For more information on IiV you can also visit investinginvolunteers.co.uk, and why not speak to your funder about support towards fees and time before you start your Investing in Volunteers journey.