The Department of Rural and Community Development published Ireland’s first-ever national volunteering strategy on 5th December 2020. Volunteer Ireland, along with the network of Volunteer Centres, worked closely with the Department and other stakeholders on the development of the strategy and look forward to delivering many of the key actions.
During the development of the strategy, the Department of Rural and Community Development held two consultation phases. You can read our submissions to those consultations below.
You can read our submission on the draft national volunteering strategy in January 2020 here.
You can also read our submission to the initial consultation in January 2019 here.
Why is it important to have a National Volunteering Strategy?
Volunteer Ireland and the network of Volunteer Centres and Volunteering Information Services have been advocating for a national volunteering strategy for many years. Volunteering in Ireland faces many challenges, such as changing demands from volunteers, demographic changes and lack of resourcing. A national strategy is a chance for people who live and breathe volunteering every day to have an impact on developing volunteering in Ireland.
What should be the key priorities in the National Volunteering Strategy?
Volunteering in Ireland is at a turning point. With an ageing volunteering population, it is increasingly important to engage new volunteers and adapt to how people want to volunteer. More and more, people want more flexible volunteering roles and this crisis has shown us that organisations are willing to adapt – with the right support. We have an extremely strong culture of volunteering here and with so many people offering their support during COVID-19, now is the time to embrace this and future proof volunteering. Key actions such as providing a bursary fund for volunteer involving organisations, delivering a national communications strategy on volunteering and commissioning research are vital first steps.
We feel that the most urgent priorities which should be delivered first are:
- Strategic Objective 1- Action 8: National survey on volunteering. This is required to give a baseline to measure the strategy against.
- Strategic Objective 3 – Action 37: Develop a national communications strategy. This is critical to raise much needed public awareness of the impact and availability of volunteering.
- Strategic Objective 2 – Action 26: Provide a bursary fund to support volunteer involving organisations to build capacity in their organisations. This grant will allow small and volunteer led groups to reduce barriers to volunteering and cover costs like training and expenses for volunteers.
- Strategic Objective 5 – Action 48: Commission a report on the economic and social value and impact of volunteering on our economy. With little research on volunteering in Ireland, this will provide valuable data about the services undertaken by volunteers and their impact.
- Strategic Objective 2 – Action 21: Provide a shared “volunteer manager” service to volunteer involving organisations with one full time volunteer manager in each region, hosted in a local Volunteer Centre. The majority of volunteer involving organisations operate without a volunteer manager meaning best practice volunteer management around recruitment, training and support is often a challenge. This will provide vital support to these organisations to continue to engage volunteers.