Millions of people regularly volunteer through a group, club or organisation and carry out fantastic work, helping charities across the UK, but employees are still needed for core areas.
While volunteers are the backbone of some charities, such as the RNLI, the Samaritans, or the British Red Cross, even these charities are not able to operate without full-time staff who provide the core services and activities required to operate larger charities.
These core areas may include the delivery of some services that require highly qualified individuals such as doctors, nurses or teachers; or areas and activities that need experienced professionals in support functions such as finance, IT and human resources.
While some of these functions could be dealt with by volunteers (including trustees), the reality is that charities – particularly larger charities delivering complex services – are best served with both employees and volunteers working together.
Volunteers may not have the right skills and experience, or are only available for a certain number of hours and therefore not able to provide the continuity the charity requires. Volunteers may also want to choose the areas they work in, which can lead to problems in developing a cohesive and efficient team, particularly in areas where management functions are required.
Charities should have a clear strategy where resources should be spent – how many staff to employ, the number of volunteers that will need to be recruited and trained, or a combination of both. They should also explain these decisions so they are understood by a range of audiences including donors, the media and the public.
Charities should also ensure that appropriate structures are in place to support volunteers in their roles, including health and safety measures, safeguarding practices and data protection. The induction programme for volunteers should address the charity’s culture, values, expected behaviours and the support available to volunteers to help them succeed in their roles.
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