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By Rory Hayes, Researcher, Directory of Social Change
In our February Quick Survey we asked:
Which would most benefit your organisation, a £10,000 cash donation or an equivalent value in volunteers (or volunteer hours)?
|91% ||£10,000 cash donation|
| 9% ||Volunteers/volunteer hours|
There were 1,004 responses, including 604 written comments. A selection of the comments is provided below, following the main themes of opinion which appear in bold.
Many people commented that they had plenty of volunteers – even too many to properly make use of – and they needed resources to train, manage and accommodate them properly. This often required cash, which is in short supply…
‘‘We're up to capacity with volunteers and are facing serious cash flow issues.’’
‘‘It is always a struggle to raise funds. The money would be far more useful than people offering time - we have enough volunteers at the moment.’’
‘‘As we are a well established charity in the community, we already have lots of volunteers. However, we are quickly running out of cash!’’
‘‘We already have a huge team of volunteers working with us and we have limited capacity to take on more.’’
“We are extremely supportive of volunteers and invest heavily in developing a volunteer programme, but a good volunteer programme costs money to support…”
“volunteers we have, cashflow for future projects we don't”
Some people felt that volunteers weren’t suitable for their work, that unskilled volunteers were not always useful, or that volunteers couldn’t necessarily be depended on for regular contributions…
‘‘It would cost more time and money to train up volunteers than the benefit we would gain from having them. Our work is too specialised.’’
‘‘Volunteers need a vast amount of support, from recruitment and training to equipment and supervision. In many cases the work we do needs skilled labour where paying a contractor represents the best value for money.’’
‘‘We have few opportunities that unskilled volunteers could undertake; there would also be significant extra work involved in managing teams according to our safeguarding guidelines.’’
‘‘Volunteers are crucial but don't come for free, they need managing, training and reimbursing for out of pocket expenses. Their time would be no use to us as we couldn't utilise them safely.’’
A recurring theme of many comments was the threat of redundancies and closure, and the difficulty in getting cash in to fund running costs…
‘‘Fundraising is very challenging and we're struggling to stay open; cash would help us pay our bills and stay afloat.’’
‘‘In the current climate of cuts, £10K is about half of someone's salary and might just save a position from being lost.’’
‘‘We are desperately close to losing two key skilled senior staff that are vital to the medium-to-long-term survival of the entire charity. £10,000 would secure their posts and their work for several more months.’’
‘‘We are struggling to pay salaries so will all become volunteers soon.’’
“Cash is king”
A small minority said they would prefer the contribution of volunteers over cash, because of the potential longer term impact or as a way to draw in more support for the organisation...
‘‘We could use those hours to engage with our supporters and collectively the value would be much more than £10k.’’
‘‘Once £10,000 is spent, it's gone, and it doesn't buy much. Having volunteers benefits the organisation, create lots of good will and builds good connections. This may have a much longer lasting effect.’’
‘‘Volunteers are the life-blood of any voluntary organisation. They have the ability to support projects over a long period of time, as well as act as ambassadors for the charity. Whilst a £10K donation would be nice, it would be spent within a fairly short space of time, and would not have the same long term sustained impact.’’
‘‘Volunteers would provide a greater legacy and raise the profile of our organisation far greater than a cash injection.’’
“£10,000 is very appealing but with good volunteers (especially if they have fundraising experience) it could be a wiser investment which would hopefully lead to more money in the long term.”