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Impact round-up: Spring 2023

Welcome to the spring edition of our impact round-up. In this edition, evaluation consultant Lucy Lernelius takes a deep dive into measuring the impact of volunteering.

Over a quarter of people in England volunteer formally at least once a year. Many charities both big and small rely heavily on volunteers to carry out their work.

So how can the sector evaluate the impact of volunteering programmes and share the stories of volunteers? Here are our tips.

Use national research and data

You can use national research and data as a source of indicators or questions to help measure volunteering outcomes and experiences.

It can also be useful to compare your data with national benchmarks.

  • Time Well Spent is NCVOs research series focusing on the volunteer experience. The most recent publication looks at how volunteering has transformed over recent years. This includes the impact of the pandemic, the cost of living crisis and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • The Community Life Survey is a national annual survey covering social cohesion, community engagement and social action. It’s the most comprehensive source of data for volunteering and charitable giving.

Measure social value

There are various methodologies which aim to put a monetary value on social outcomes or initiatives such as volunteering.

  • Nesta’s Valuing People Power: Final Report (pdf, 1.3MB) delves into the economic and social value of volunteering and unpaid activities in the UK.
  • Office for National Statistics earnings and working hours data can be used to carry out quick calculations of the economic value of your volunteers’ time.
  • The Local Government Association’s Social Value Easy Guide (pdf, 775KB) sets out how smaller organisations can use the National Social Value Measurement framework to quantify the social value they create.
  • Cost benefit analysis is a more complex methodology which can be used to assess the economic value of interventions such as volunteering programmes. However, you need to be very clear about the outcomes of the programme. For example, the programme could result in a volunteer gaining employment.

Share your stories

Storytelling and case studies are some of the most powerful ways you can share the impact of your volunteers.

We’re motivated and moved by authentic human stories more than numbers and figures. It’s important to remember that volunteers are people, not just a resource to be mined or a way to save money.

Talk to our consultants

Our in-house evaluation and volunteering consultants support organisations to develop volunteering programmes and measure their impact.

Below are examples of current and recent volunteering project evaluations.

  • We’re delivering and evaluating Active Kindness in partnership with Community Leisure UK and Sport England. Active Kindness is a multi-year project designed to build volunteering capacity in the leisure sector. Read our interim evaluation report
  • We recently delivered and evaluated Age Friendly Inclusive Volunteering, a project funded by the Centre for Ageing Better. The project aimed to address challenges to engaging older and diverse volunteers. Take a look at our key insights from the project (pdf, 867 KB).
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