Friday, 18 November 2016

We've moved home

After five and half years of blogging on this Blogger site the Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd blog has not just one but two new homes.

You will find all future posts on our new Wordpress or Medium blogs. All articles will appear on both sites, we just want to give you the choice as to which you engage with.

All previous posts will remain here as an archive for you to access whenever you wish.

Friday, 11 November 2016

National Minimum Wage (Workplace Internships) Bill

The UK government is considering a ban on unpaid internships. But could their plans impact on volunteering?

Recently Alec Shelbrooke, Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell, introduced a Private Members Bill into Parliament titled the National Minimum Wage (Workplace Internships) Bill. Mr Shelbrooke rightly sought to bring an end to exploitative internships where young people work for private sector companies for extended periods on no pay in order to gain experience and, hopefully, employment.

As with many Private Members Bills, Mr Shelbrooke’s proposed legislation has stalled in parliament, on this occasion being filibustered out at it’s second reading. Why? It seems the government is undertaking an independent review of modern working practices and may well seek to bring it’s own legislation to outlaw exploitative internships.

Until we see any such proposals from government, analysis of what Mr Shelbrooke was proposing is both interesting and could indicate any potential affect on volunteering.

Mr Shelbrooke’s Bill was short and to the point. It would have affected the whole of the UK and the core content sat in three sections.

Section one

For the purpose of this Act, a workplace internship is an employment practice in which a person (“the intern”)—
(a) undertakes regular work or provides regular services in the United
Kingdom for—
(i) another person; (ii) a company; (iii) a limited liability partnership; or
(iv) a public authority; and
(b) the purpose of the employment practice is—
(i) that the intern meets learning objectives or gains experience of
working for the employer listed in section 1(a); and (ii) to provide practical experience in an occupation or profession.

Section two

An intern who enters into a workplace internship shall be remunerated by his employer in respect of his work at a rate which is not less than the national minimum wage calculated in accordance with the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 for the appropriate age of the individual.
Subject to subsection 1 an employer is not liable for Employers’ National Insurance contributions for an intern undertaking a workplace internship of less than 12 months.

Section three

For the purposes of this Act, section 2 shall not apply if the person is—
(a) a student at a higher or further education institution based in the UK
who is required to undertake an internship or equivalent work
placement as part of his or her course;
(b) of compulsory school age;
(c) undertaking an approved English apprenticeship as set out in the
Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009;

So, to summarise, an intern would be clearly defined and would have to be paid at least the national minimum wage. So far so good. However, problems would have come from interpreting and applying the bill.

First, the bill states that it only applies to companies. Whilst the intent is clearly private sector businesses, many registered charities are also registered as limited companies. Campaign groups like Intern Aware have been vocal that unpaid internships in charities are as bad as those in private companies. The Bill as worded would therefore allow registered charities to be targeted by the appropriate authorities.

Once charities become a focus of this legislation the question of volunteering is bound to come up. When I have written previously on unpaid internships I have received comments from social media trolls claiming all unpaid work should be outlawed, including volunteering. So where would Mr Shelbrooke’s Bill have left us?

For some insights let's turn to the House of Commons debate on the Bill. When asked about the implications on volunteering Mr Shelbrooke remarked:

That looks promising until you also read the following comments from Mr Shelbrooke during the debate:

So volunteers won’t fall under the legislation if they just turn up but if a group or organisation seeks to deliberately advertise for volunteers then “that makes a mockery of things”. Also, if an organisation has a large turnover and engages people on an unpaid basis then that is exploiting a “volunteer” loophole.

That is considerably less encouraging, opening up new loopholes that could in theory allow the authorities to decide that any volunteers who are actively recruited to charities and / or who have money to pay people would be entitled to National Minimum Wage! And we haven’t even looked at volunteering in the public sector, or those roles that are really volunteering but the volunteer calls them internships to make them sound more attractive to a potential employer.

Of course, Mr Shelbrooke’s well intentioned Bill seems to be going nowhere now, but it gives an insight into how the government might seek to legislate on the exploitation of unpaid internships. What I hope I have done in this article is show that if and when legislation is introduced into Parliament on the matter it needs much further thought and refinement if it is to achieve its aim without damaging the UK’s long and proud history of volunteering.

What do you think? Add your thoughts to the debate in the comments section below.

  1. An employer may meet Employers’ National Insurance contributions for an intern undertaking a workplace internship of less than 12 months. ↩︎

Friday, 14 October 2016

Good Deeds to find love: a new take on volunteering

This post is the latest in our (very) occasional series of guest articles. Hannah Whitehead is our contributor this time. I met with Hannah in early September, intrigued by her organisation, Good Deed Dating, I invited Hannah to explain the concept for the readers of the Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd blog and that's just what she does here.



As volunteer managers, we are all on the lookout for exciting and innovative ways to engage new audiences in our volunteering opportunities.  It’s a constant battle between getting the core work achieved and providing people with one off, commitment-free opportunities.

The challenge

What people want is an easy way to volunteer.  We all know that.  We’re not talking about the incredible volunteers who keep us all going on a day to day basis; those stalwarts who have volunteered every Tuesday morning since 1994. 

We’re talking about those people who would never volunteer.  The word doesn’t even enter their vocabulary.  They don’t want to commit, they don’t want to fill out endless forms, and they think opportunities are going to be boring or only available while they’re at work. 

And here’s the problem for volunteer managers: none of that suits our needs.  Not only do we have to make time and space to run these special activities, we also have to recruit the volunteers.

So what does that mean?  You end up with a team of volunteers who are dependable and reliable, yes.  But where are your new members and supporters going to come from next year, and the year after that? 

We need to find exciting ways to pull in that next generation of supporters. We have to start listening to those people who don’t volunteer.  Why aren’t they volunteering?  Just because they don’t do it now, doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t.  We just need to give them the incentive and an easy way to dip their toe in.

It was exactly these challenges that I was facing as a volunteer manager, which spurred me on to create a social enterprise that would not only support charities to access that tricky non-comital audience, but more importantly, engage them on a level that would speak to their needs and interests. 

Enter Good Deed Dating

Good Deed Dating works with charities in London to co-ordinate volunteering events for single people.  We combine good deeds with great dates; providing single Londoners with the chance to meet someone who shares their values whilst they do something positive with their spare time. 

Our website provides information on our brand and our story.  It also showcases the work of our charity partners with their own profile pages.  Our customers can purchase their subscription and set up their account details.  The main element of our website is our events page which lists all the upcoming Good Deed Dates, where people can purchase tickets.

But how did it all happen? 

One morning last year I was reading an article entitled “Forget Tinder, Volunteer Instead”, scoffing to myself, “of course volunteering is an amazing way to meet people, everyone knows that”.  When it dawned on me that although those of us who work in the third sector know that volunteering holds the power to introduce likeminded people to each other, the rest of the world might not think that way.  Volunteering is still seen as a selfless act where you give and you don’t get.  When in fact, we all know that volunteering should always be a mutually beneficial process where you gain as much as you give.  All I needed to do was to re-brand volunteering as something appealing and relevant to single people.

For starters, don’t call it “volunteering”, call it “a good deed”.  Stop talking about “volunteers”, our customers are called “Deeders”.  Make it all about meeting people, doing something fun and getting out there.  What you end up with is the good deed being seen as a by-product of the date.  Imagine that, volunteers who want something out of their experience.

The result is a group of people engaged in your charity, who would never have been involved otherwise, and you, the charity, have three or four hours of golden time to convince them that your cause is the one they should support.  This is your opportunity to engage the next generation of your supporters, on their level and at their pace.

Following a significant amount of market research and several focus groups, the idea of Good Deed Dating became a reality.  We launched our website in June 2016 and have been blown away by the response.  People love the idea.  We’ve found that over 70% of our Deeders wouldn’t have considered themselves a volunteer before their first date.  And when asked whether their experience of a Good Deed Date has encouraged them to continue their involvement with the charity hosting their event, over 85% said yes.

Our success so far has led to significant seed investment recently and the expansion of the team at GDD HQ.  We will soon be looking to diversify our offer, developing new products and services.  We are looking forward to running events for LGBT groups very soon too.  There is so much potential for our events to expand to include charities outside London or even the UK.

Moving forward:

For me it’s all about looking at volunteering from a different angle and modernising the way we engage people.  What else can you offer?  What are they going to get out of it?  That feel-good factor just isn’t enough anymore! 

Think about the millions of people out there who don’t volunteer.  Let’s aim for them!

Hannah Whitehead, Founder and CEO of Good Deed Dating

We are always happy to hear from charities who are keen to get involved with Good Deed Dating.  Check out our website: to find out more, or get in touch to chat about how we might be able to work together.  Email us: