Monday, 14 January 2013

What's in store in 2013 - what do you think?

Happy new year!

Yes, 2012 with all its expectation and hoopla is now a receding memory and 2013 stretches before us.

This time of year is of course when people make resolutions and commentators, fresh from analysing the year just gone, gaze into their crystal balls to foresee what may be in store over the next twelve months.

I’ve done a little bit of that concerning volunteering through my January blog for Third Sector Online but I want to try something different here. Instead, I want to invite you to share your thoughts about what you see happening in the world of volunteering during 2013.

Please use this opportunity to post a comment below and briefly share what you think the key issues, themes, developments, challenges and opportunities are going to be.

If you have any problems posting a comment please contact me directly and I’ll post your comment for you.

Over to you.


  1. Here are three of my crystal-ball predictions based on the fact that volunteering will continue its inexorable rise in importance due to services having to be withdrawn, re-configured or re-imagined

    1. The role of volunteers in delivering services will become an even hotter topic and lead to a number of internecine fights over, for example, the ability of volunteers to perform so-called ‘specialised roles’ and the displacement of paid staff roles.

    2. The lines between the different ways of giving time and the distinct roles of time giver and time receiver will become increasingly blurred as services become both increasingly user-led and that users will have a package of services delivered in both formal and informal ways. My most confident prediction is that at some point we will have a debate about what is volunteering!

    3. The decision by the Supreme Court last year that discrimination laws don’t apply to volunteers won’t be the end of the matter. As volunteering grows in profile, the fact that volunteers can be treated in an ageist, sexist or racist manner with no recourse will become mainstream and at some point make the national papers.

    Underlying all of this will be the big question-mark. How will the volunteering sector respond? There is a danger of a vacuum at the top as the new merged NCVO/VE organisation find its feet. And we know that nature abhors a vacuum. We need to make sure that we, the volunteering sector and us as volunteer managers, are leading the discussions or at least guiding them rather than simply reacting and constantly being on the back-foot. This requires NCVO and AVM to be leaders and speak with authority. The fail-safe option within that is that social media at least allows volunteer managers to communicate and respond themselves, should they feel let-down or unheard by the national ‘voices’.

  2. I, too, think the fight over increased volunteer engagement and displacement of paid staff roles will heat up. I was happy to see managers of volunteers fight back against the "oh, let's just get volunteers to do this stuff we aren't going to fund anymore" mentality by the UK government - but the fight isn't over!

    I think 2013 is going to be the year that those in charge of recruiting and supporting volunteers who also have held out against using the Internet or mobile devices as a part of their work are going to become profoundly marginalized. The hold outs are already being left out of a lot of conversations and being passed over by volunteers under 40 in large numbers, but in 2013, I think senior management at charities, NGOs and government agencies are finally going to notice these holdouts.

    2013 could be the year that managers of volunteers start really asserting themselves in terms of conversations about community engagement. It could be the year they say to offers of corporate volunteers, "That's a really nice offer, thanks, but instead, here's what we actually want you to do and that's actually needed..." It could be the year they write letters to media outlets to correct comments and stories regarding volunteers. It could be the year they invite themselves to senior staff meetings. It could be the year they stop thinking of themselves as HR managers and, instead, think of themselves as essential to programming. It *could* be.

  3. Readers may be interested in this blog post from New Zealand colleague Sue Hine where she shares her own thoughts on the big issues facing volunteering in the coming year -