I have been really interested in the arrival of CIPRnet which I am looking forward to getting to grips with this weekend. The aim of it appears to be to provide information and support the work of the many volunteers who support the work of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). Looking after volunteers is a vital piece of work if we want to have that support available to help us.
All too often organisations like the idea of having volunteers to boost their activities but are not able to put the effort in to make sure that those individuals feel valued. The relationship has to be two way if it is to be really effective. Once recruitment has happened volunteers need to be welcomed into a business, have a clear role and receive regular updates as part of the team. All of this needs time and effort for it to be done right.
I have worked as a volunteer at many points in my life. It started when I was doing my A-levels and I spent a summer working in the local Oxfam shop. In more recent times I have volunteered through the Media Trust and have used my skills and experience to help charities and voluntary organisations. I have given up time, and still do, to judge dressage competitions.
Now I also devote time to working with the CIPR North West committee and recently the Foresight Panel, and I have given up many hours to support the work of the Association of Police Communicators (APComm). Why have I done it? At the heart is the chance to broaden my experience and learn new things. I also have a view that if I can help others, particularly charities, then I should. With the current voluntary work it is about me giving something back to the profession that I love.
When volunteering has worked well it is because I feel valued, I feel my voice can be heard, I feel able to make a difference. This is all stuff that is important to all employees and volunteers are no different. But many organisations don’t recognise this and at worst take voluntary support for granted which can lead to people leaving. We can all do more to ensure volunteers are integrated as part of the organisations workforce.