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Video: Does group volunteering work for charities?

Ben Darlington | 11 February 16

The issue of group volunteering days, and whether they’re any good for charities, is a thorny one. While group days are excellent team building opportunities, for many charities, large groups of volunteers can actually be more of a hinderance than a help.

We’re always interested in creative ways that volunteers can get involved, whilst still being useful for charities, so we went and asked a few of our charities what kinds of  group volunteering works for them.

If you’d like to organise a fun, original, and high impact group volunteering day at your company, get in touch to book a meeting, we’d love to hear from you!

 

Transcript:

Ben:  Hi there, I’m Ben Darlington from Benefacto, and today I’m standing in the middle of the beautiful Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. We’re really interested in finding out a little bit more about group volunteering days, and whether they’re a help or a hinderance to our charities. Its certainly something we’ve never done much of here at Benefacto, but rather than take it from us, we’re going to speak to a few of our charities over the next couple of days, and find out what works for them, and what doesn’t. First up is Ken from Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.

Ken: My name’s Kenneth Greenway, I’m the cemetery manager for the friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, and we’re here in London’s most urban woodland. People when they volunteer here are engaged in practical nature conservation work. We see volunteers all through the week here, the only day we don’t welcome volunteers is a Monday, but we’ll see them through the week and the weekend. Minimum is five, the largest team size we’ve ever had here is 150 but that’s a bit too much. So ideally for us, around 30 to 40 is a nice group size, but we’ll welcome anybody and everybody if they’re willing to put on gloves and trust that we know what we’re talking about!

Ben: So we’ve met Ken at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, and of course with 27 acres, theres lots of room for big groups of volunteers to come down and do work independently. Next stop is right here in the city of London. We’re meeting Maria Lenn at Suited and Booted. Lets go and find out how volunteers can help her.

Maria: You are currently at the charity of Suited and Booted, and we are based in a church – the very appropriately named St Andrews by the Wardrobe, which is where we run our charity. Two people is actually wonderful, because they can work as a team, and two people tend to work as a team very well. I can tell one or two what to do, and they can manage each other, it’s an easily identifiable task that I would be able to give them. Because it really is difficult when you’re a small charity, without any of the staff, mainly volunteer led, to organise other volunteers en masse. Two people working together makes sense for me, and I should imagine lots of other small charities as well.

Ben: So we’ve met Maria down at Suited and Booted, and we’ve learned that big groups really aren’t much use to charities like hers. Next stop is Neil at Vauxhall Food Bank, a small charity that helps families in crisis with essential foodstuffs. Lets go and meet him.

Neil: My name’s Neil Raitt, I’m the volunteer co-ordinator at Vauxhall Food Bank. Ideally we would like to have teams of up to four volunteers. What we try and do is create volunteering opportunities which people can take a lot home from, that they can learn a lot from. So if we have over four volunteers what it tends to mean is that there just is not enough to do for each of those volunteers. We don’t want to just give people filing to do, so that’s kind of the main reason.

Ben: I think what we’ve learned is that volunteering needs to be really meaningful both for the charity, but also for the volunteer. Given that so many of London’s charities are small organisations, we’ve got to make sure that volunteering is something that they can handle, and something that’s going to be meaningful for everyone. We’ve had lots of good ideas at Benefacto about how this can be achieved, so please do get in touch, and thanks for watching!

Ben Darlington looks after new partnerships and possibilities at Benefacto. He has been involved with the project since its inception back in 2012, building the website and developing the graphic design. He is always looking for ways for charities, businesses and social enterprises to work together. If you'd like to work with Benefacto talk to Ben at ben@benefacto.org.

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