Volunteer information: from data to insight to action

A joint workshop with Battersea Dogs and Cats Home at the Association of Volunteer Managers 2017 Conference

By: Tim Walters

I had a great day at the Association of Volunteer Managers 2017 Conference a few weeks ago where, along with nearly 250 volunteering professionals, I heard stimulating talks from a diverse range of speakers.

I was excited to have the opportunity to deliver a joint workshop with Charlotte Fielder MBE, Head of Volunteering & Fostering at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, entitled Volunteer information: from data to insight to action. During the session we explored the sorts of information those involved in the strategic development of volunteering find the most insightful to inform strategy and practice, and how they can transform that insight into tangible action.

In the first part of the session I shared key findings from our Volunteers Count 2017 study along with some of my experiences of how Agenda clients have derived insight from both Volunteers Count and volunteer engagement surveys to inform their volunteering policies and practice. This was followed by a lively and honest interview with Charlotte during which we explored how she had developed a Volunteering Strategy for Battersea, the role volunteer data played in this and the challenges she faced along the way! Some of the key take home points for me were:

  • You can’t develop a volunteering strategy in isolation: it has to complement and align with the wider organisation strategy and recognise dependencies between different strategies and different parts of the organisation
  • It is important to draw on a wide range of data sources in order to develop a more rounded and complete understanding of the current position. These may include volunteer surveys, staff surveys, focus groups, interviews, volunteer metrics and benchmarking data. Try to triangulate different data sources to reach a rounded assessment.
  • Regular consultation with volunteers, staff and other stakeholders is key: consult, consult, consult!
  • The role of networking and learning from the experiences of others should not be underestimated. Reach out to colleagues in the wider volunteering world for inspiration, and to gain insight into what has worked well and not so well in their organisations.

Some great points were raised in the workshop. I’d like to thank Charlotte for her contribution, and all of you who attended.


What role does data play in your organisation? What information do you find most insightful, and how do you transform it into tangible action?

If you would like to find out more about measuring volunteer data, you’re welcome to call us on 01865 263720, or take a look at our blog for more insights.



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