Friday, 11 October 2013

NCVO gives evidence on Olympic Legacy around volunteering

In response to a recent posting I made on LinkedIn sharing a news article from Third Sector about the volunteering legacy for the London 2012 Games, Mike Locke of NCVO kindly shared with me the transcript of evidence he recently gave to the House of Lords Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Committee.

You can access this twenty page transcript on the Committee's website where you can also access RSS feeds on the Committee's work and sign up for email updates. Interestingly Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, is due to give evidence to this committee on 22nd October 2013.

You can also watch Mike giving evidence to the committee via the video below.

What do you think of Mike's evidence?

What would you add to what he said?

Did the committee ask the right questions?

How would you have answered them differently?


  1. I think this is a fascinating read, Mike covers a lot of ground - everybody should read it. My concern with it, though, is that the Committee seems to spend a lot of time covering the debacle around the database. Whilst it is obviously very important, it's nothing new. In the years running up to the Games, it was one of the main topics that was being constantly raised by VE and many of us, from both national and local organsisations. It feels like the Committee spent so much time quizzing it, it ran out of time to look at some of the other important issues, notably why was the Volunteering programme so succesful, what can be taken forward to develop volunteering long-term and what current policies are limiting that.

    For me, the three big learnings are (and MIke highlighted):
    1. Volunteering was owned, valued and celebrated at the highest levels within LOCOG. Not simply passed on to volunteer managers to 'get on with' as happens in many organisations.
    2. Proper investment was made in volunteering.
    3. Volunteers weren't just allowed to be themselves, they were positiviely encouraged to be themselves.

    However, again as MIke said, no-one knows what that investment was and I'm surprised the Committee didn't seem to push that point. It's basic business-sense that that when you assess the impact of something - be it a product or service - cost is one of the key components.

    So, we're in the position where VMs can go to their board/CEO and point to the Olympics to say that if you invest in volunteering it can be the difference in achieving your objectives, but when they rightly ask 'how much did it cost, what's the unit cost, what's the breakdown' etc etc, all we can say is 'Err, don't know'.

    The other issue that we need to address is, of course, how do we translate volunteering at a wonderful sporting event into volunteering at what could be perceived at a more 'mundane' level. We know that once people start volunteering they generally have a very positive experience, but encouraging that transition from the Olympics to, for example, volunteering at a lunch-club... hmm...

    And are the Committee going to address what can be done to get organisations to own volunteering at their highest levels?

    Hopefully, I'm doing the Committee a huge disservice and all this is being considered in the background.

    John Ramsey

  2. Very interesting to read and a lot of ground covered. Mike raised some good points with the Committee and I hope they have a better understanding as a result. It's a shame they really ran with the topic of the database rather than applying the same attention to other learning points and missing information, like the investment made, which would really help us. It reads as if the Committee believes the database is the missing piece and if we just had that, volunteering would be in much better shape.

    Whilst this was a good opportunity, I also feel that yet again we're inhibited in making very sound evidence-based arguments by a lack of data. It makes us sound a bit woolly and unsure so these crucial learnings carry less weight. The Committee were clearly looking for numbers and statistics to back up the points raised and Mike largely had to go on overall feeling and anecdotal evidence. From our own organisations we know it's very challenging to influence without including quantitative data. Knowing the staff time and money invested in the volunteering programme, among other statistics (like the actual increase in enquiries and placements post-Games) would have been so beneficial. Well done to Mike for contributing.