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Zoe MacGregor: Celebrating volunteers at the RTPI

Zoe MacGregor is the RTPI’s Volunteer Project Co-ordinator responsible for developing volunteering at the RTPI.

Investing in Volunteers, the RTPI’s first ever strategy for volunteer engagement was launched in 2020 and sets out four key areas to address. I took up the role as Volunteer Project Co-ordinator in July last year and after taking some time to get to know the organisation and our members it was clear that from those four key areas, two were vital to start work on. The impact of volunteering is the first and is closely linked to how we celebrate volunteering and recognise member’s contributions. So, where are we now?

What struck me is that whilst many of our members wouldn’t necessarily see themselves as ‘volunteers’, they give their professional time, knowledge, and expertise to the RTPI generously, time and time again. With that in mind, it was important to make sure that the volunteers’ voice was heard in any developments, and the first step was to create a Volunteer Advisory Group to help shape our thinking.

We meet every 2 months, and our first topic for discussion was impact. We know volunteers do lots of great things and we’d be lost without their contribution but beyond counting the number of volunteer members supporting our activities we had a blank slate. To really understand impact when it comes to volunteering, we had to consider what would be meaningful to know.

Our discussions highlighted that the priority was to better understand the impact of volunteering ON volunteers themselves. So, because of this, we introduced an exit survey for those leaving roles at the end of 2021, sought feedback from those completing Induction in January 2022 and importantly for all volunteers, are now launching a volunteer survey as part of Volunteers’ Week. This is an opportunity for us to hear from active volunteers about their experience. So, if you’re actively involved in the work of the Institute, we’d love to hear from you!

We also want to know more about the impact OF volunteers on our work at the RTPI and the wider community so there are questions in the survey to broaden our understanding of these areas. These findings will help shape how we evidence impact and how we recognise volunteers for their contribution.

Alongside this work, and with the support of our Advisory Group, we have also outlined what we want the volunteer journey to be like here at the RTPI. What is it that we need to offer for active members to have a good experience of volunteering? This has resulted in a 12-stage journey which we’re now working to deliver. For example, the first stage is ‘a great welcome’ so I’ve been updating the volunteering pages on the RTPI website so members can find out about all our opportunities from a central place. I’ve also been reviewing the policies and procedures that are needed to support the involvement of volunteers. These are available on the resources page of the volunteering web pages. We’ve also redrafted the Problem-Solving procedure and drafted a new Volunteering Policy which will be available soon. And a new Volunteering Handbook for all volunteers will be available later in the year.

So, when it comes to impact, are we any further on? We can’t (yet) shout from the roof tops about the impact of volunteering ON volunteers or OF volunteers on the RTPI and wider world but we are making progress – and we look forward to sharing our findings with you!

Find out more about volunteering with the RTPI and the upcoming elections for Board of Trustees and General Assembly members.

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