Volunteers giving in different ways

  • Thousands of small charities rely on volunteers to perform a huge variety of tasks
  • Volunteers Week is the ideal opportunity to celebrate and thank them for their hard work and generosity
  • We meet three people offering their time and skills in different ways

Volunteering offers experiences far beyond a typical office-based role. We meet three volunteers who all support their charities in very different ways.

Remote volunteering for the Mlambe Project

The Mlambe Project is an education and building charity based in Malawi. Led by their Malawi-based CEO, Lucy, a team of 15 volunteers work remotely from the UK, each giving a minimum of two hours a week.

The charity primarily uses the mobile messaging service WhatsApp to coordinate activities and progress projects.

“Unfortunately, we don’t get to meet in person that often, which is definitely a challenge. WhatsApp has therefore become essential to the way we work,” says Robin Archard, Director of Marketing and Communications at The Mlambe Project.

“Updates and pictures from Malawi are sent to the team on most days. We also do group calls and have separate WhatsApp groups for each department.

“The regular project updates and messages from Lucy keep us all motivated. For example, last year we succeeded in establishing a primary school and now get regular updates on our new students’ achievements.

“Although we volunteer remotely, we all feel connected to each other and that we are helping to make a real difference in Malawi.

Read more about the Mlambe Project’s volunteers.

WheelPower’s fundraising hero

WheelPower is a national wheelchair sports charity, helping disabled people lead healthy, active lives.

Volunteer fundraiser, Dave Covey, has not only dedicated his time over of the last decade, but continually puts his body on the line to help raise vital funds.

In 2009, Dave began helping to organise charity fundraising quizzes. The success of these inspired him to take part in his first London Marathon that same year.

Dave has since gone on to tackle many more physical challenges in support of WheelPower, including Iron Man Wales, the Land’s End to John O’Groats race, Ride London and the Mont Ventoux cycle challenge. He has also been the driving force behind a number of group initiatives, including a 100km walking event and a London to Bournemouth team cycling challenge.

“Dave has raised more than £30,000 for WheelPower through his generosity, passion and determination,” says Martin McElhatton, Chief Executive at WheelPower.

“To thank him for his tireless efforts, he was given the honourable role of Charity Ambassador and more recently received a High Sheriff Award for his fundraising efforts.

Dave says: “The WheelPower team has always inspired me to do incredible feats. I have met some very inspirational people who have gone through horrendous times, but who have always come out the other side stronger and more determined. Stories like theirs are what inspires me to take part.”

Read more about volunteering for WheelPower here.

Creativity and fun at the Ministry of Stories

The Ministry of Stories is a writing and mentoring charity based in east London. Here, young people aged eight to 18 can unlock their writing talents, while also building confidence, self-respect and communication skills.

The charity also has its own publishing platform and an imaginative shop for monster supplies, selling essentials such as fang floss and dragon treats.

By mid-2018, the Ministry of Stories had hosted 381 volunteers donating 2,863 hours of their time, enabling the charity to connect with 832 young people.

New volunteers complete at least six shifts within their first six months. Matt is one of the volunteers helping to turn children’s stories into audio for their new podcast series.

“My role is to record the stories of young writers and turn them into podcasts, adding music and sound effects,” said Matt.

“Every project reminds me of how creative, clever and silly we can be. I get to work on stories about magic coconuts, bunnies that want to become comedians and robots that dream of going to the moon. I love working with the Ministry of Stories.”

Visit the Ministry of Stories to see their featured volunteer of the month.

Engaging your volunteers

The package and experience that you offer your volunteers has a huge influence on their commitment to your organisation.

A good idea is to regularly review how you manage volunteers. For example, consider the following:

  • Do you offer flexible hours or locations?
  • Are volunteers allowed to be creative and find new things to do?
  • Do your volunteers meet each other?
  • How do you say thank you to them?
  • How do they feel about the roles they do?

Find out more about managing and retaining volunteers and read our guide on writing volunteer role descriptions.