Ten trends and projects to watch out for in the coming year...
Happy new year! Whilst overindulging and fighting with the family over the festive break, I did manage to grab some time to think about what lies ahead for volunteering in 2012. It’s going to be a challenging year for everyone I’m sure but I also think there are interesting times ahead and so I thought I’d jot down my top ten thoughts for your perusal:
10) Volunteering in the headlines: London 2012 will see the biggest peacetime mobilisation of volunteers that this country has ever seen. With 70,000 Games Makers plus 10,000 Ambassadors there will no doubt be some complex logistics to take care and it’ll be interesting to see how LOCOG and the GLA manage given so much is riding on voluntary help. The Olympic Authority’s recent decision to ban volunteers from using social media for non corporate messages isn’t the greatest start IMHO! But overall the Olympics could do wonders for the profile of volunteering if people get the promised ‘Experience of a Lifetime’.
9) Volunteering Incentives: the wonderful Orange RockCorps have set the trend here, offering tangible rewards in the form of exclusive concert tickets for giving time that go beyond just saying thank you. Other reward schemes are popping up everywhere, such as Smartrans Time Miles and the recently launched Blue Dot initiative where people earn points in exchange for giving money and time which they can redeem for a range of products. I think we'll see more of these developing in 2012 as charities and social enterprises compete for volunteer support. Although not to everyone’s taste I reckon they will soon become a mainstay of the volunteering landscape - check out this recent devlopment from the Nectar loyalty card.
8) Compulsory community work: it’s not volunteering! But chances are everyone will think that the Coalition’s plan to make job seekers work in the community in exchange for benefits is exactly that. The challenge for charities and voluntary groups will be whether to get involved or not to touch it with a proverbial barge pole. Personally, I think getting involved and helping to ensure that job seekers get a better experience than stacking shelves in Poundland seems the right thing to do.
7) Reinvention of national infrastructure as we know it: funding cuts aside, I see interesting times ahead for some of the bigger agencies who will struggle to be truly representative as more communities take things into their own hands. Rather than providing leadership for social action the challenge will be to guide and enable it. A reinvention will be required if the likes of ACEVO and NCVO want to be seen as more than just podiums for their CEOs or sellers of services, and quickly too as new initiatives like YourSquareMile may come to occupy their space with a much greater impact.
6) A makeover for Volunteer Management?: I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but I think the whole volunteering management sector will need to look at how it defines and represents itself. Models of volunteering are continually evolving with a huge increase in grass roots community action often happening outside of charity and organisational structures and led by volunteers. Assumptions that all good volunteering depends on good volunteer managers may need to be revised if the sector is to continue to be truly representative – good volunteering needs good leadership but as evidence shows this does not always have to be by a paid member of staff. The challenge in 2012 is for the volunteer management sector to make its huge wealth of knowledge and expertise more accessible to a wider audience. The other big challenge is for charities to make it easier to volunteer. This government is committed to removing the red tape which can put so many people off getting involved - reducing the level of form filling and making it easier to access information will be the name of the game.
5) Bloggers: 2011 saw a real surge in blogs speaking out on a wide range of volunteering and social action issues. People like Dan Sumners, Sam Sparrow, Patrick Daniels, the Volunteer Management Champions and Rob Jackson have highlighted the importance and potential impact of individual voices which, thanks to social media, can go way beyond the reach of the traditional press release – watch out for them and many others in 2012.
4) Video/vlogging: as social media usage continues to evolve I see Video having an increasing role in enabling charities and community groups to communicate. It’s now so easy to make and publish video content and its impact is so much higher than text – so get your mobiles out and get filming! Plus the advances in TV technology mean that it's becoming more commonplace to watch internet based video through the TV set - so your content could become family sofa viewing in 2012.
3) ivo.org: 2012 will see a new name and a new look for i-volunteer as ivo.org launches in February. Lots of improvements and new functions plus big plans for new developments in 2012 – watch this space!
2) Micro volunteering: thanks to sites like the brilliant Help From Home micro volunteering has gained real momentum these past two years. New developments such as Orange’s Do Some Good mobile app and sites like Bright Works and Slivers of Time will see micro volunteering grow even more in 2012. And it won’t stop there – watch out for a huge growth in technology projects to support volunteering and fundraising in part enabled by Nesta’s Innovation in Giving Fund.
1) People Power: Last year saw a huge surge in the growth of social enterprise and community led action, in no small part due to funding cuts which has led to many communities stepping in to save local services. I think we this will grow massively in 2012 as more communities seek to connect with each other to make things happen and in many cases challenge the establishment. A desired outcome for the Big Society? Perhaps, but more in spite of government than because of it.
What are your predictions for 2012? Leave a comment :o)