A big fat thank you

This week is Volunteers’ Week, an annual celebration of the contribution made by volunteers in the UK. This year, the theme is ‘Thank You’, and events are taking place across the country to show appreciation for volunteers.

We work closely with both communities and organisations to achieve social impact. Through collaboration and engagement we have empowered volunteers to contribute to social change in many of our projects. The traditional understanding of what a ‘volunteer’ is, does somewhat limit the perception and opportunities of volunteering. We’d rather think of people who engage with us as ‘collaborators’.

From our own experience of volunteering we’ve also learned the importance of recognising that people are different. While some enjoy the opportunity to influence particular social issues, others want to contribute or even gain specific skills. No matter what their incentives to engage are, their investment should be recognised. But what is the best way of saying thank you?

Last year Uscreates engaged students from Kingston University in a research project around how to best support collaborators, even after a specific project has come to an end. We wanted to know how volunteers best feel rewarded and appreciated and how to transform their experiences into a sustainable exchange. The short answer is that volunteer investment needs to be reciprocated.

The investment from volunteers is often instrumental in creating social change and Volunteers’ Week is a great opportunity to reflect on ways to support sustainable volunteering. Every week should be volunteers’ week and our ‘thank you’ is a commitment to continuously engage in this process. The outcomes from our work with Kingston University have contributed to our collaboration agenda, and we continue to look at ways to model sustainable volunteering.

If you are passionate about volunteering and have any insights to share, please get in touch!

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