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Blog | 21 January 2020

Ideas to improve the volunteer experience at Scouts

By Carl Hankinson, Volunteer Programme Sponsor - The Adult Volunteer Journey
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Last November, 40 people put their heads together to share their experiences and ideas for making the volunteering experience at Scouts the best it can be.

 

A vibrant mix of volunteers, staff and former volunteers took part in a creative session, called a Design lab. The aims included:

  • exploring some of the areas our volunteers feel are the most challenging
  • what the opportunities are to overcome those challenges
  • and creative ideas for how we could overcome the identified challenges.

The workshop was led by external experts, service design agency Snook, and was part of the research that’ll inform how we improve the volunteer experience.

Before the event, Snook consulted more than 100 people across the UK and in British Scouting Overseas about what it’s like to volunteer at Scouts, including what they love and where they saw room for improvement. Based on all of the feedback they gathered and some additional research by the Scouts team looking at the volunteer experience, eight key areas for improvement were explored throughout the day. These were:

  • welcoming new volunteers
  • rewards and recognition
  • attracting new volunteers
  • making sure local and national approaches are joined up
  • embedding our values consistently
  • training
  • transparency and leaving well.

With the motto ‘failing is fun’ in mind and encouragement to think wild, attendees at the workshop had a go at coming up with possible solutions for the challenges. They were led through an idea generation process, which involved quickly coming up with as many ideas as possible, writing their favourite ideas on concept cards and then choosing the top idea to test with another team. After getting feedback from another team, they were then tasked with ‘prototyping’ and further developing the ideas ready to share back later that day. The ideas ranged from digital solutions to events, surveys and more.

The key aim of the day was to explore the challenges further and learn from everyone’s ideas, rather than design the future solutions. So although they may not be turned into a reality, their creative thoughts have inspired even more ways we can improve the volunteering experience.

One of the ideas included creating a volunteer profile and support system (nicknamed Skinder) which aimed to help connect volunteers to provide peer networking, skill sharing and support as well as chances for connecting and getting together with other volunteers locally.

Another idea was a ‘WOW Awards Site', to enable us all to say thank you to each other easily and often. The team thought that we could all benefit from an online tool that lets anyone involved in Scouts nominate an adult volunteer to thank.

When exploring how we can explain Scouts to potential volunteers and give them a chance to try out the fun, the team tested out the idea to Un-box Scouts. They suggested we could use a ‘soft sell’ at a key community event, where Scouts deliver an activity that the community loves. This could be a way to get exposure to new people and show the variety of skills that Scouts can offer.

The team looking at learning focused on need to know, want to know as a programme of personalised learning based on getting people up and running with the key skills they need quickly, and then letting them explore other areas over time. This group even suggested we could start a ‘University of Scouts,’ with supplementary courses to build on core skills.

Kindling, the idea of a volunteer role match-maker, was a suggested app-based solution targeted at potential new volunteers that could match them with roles in Scouts, based on how much time they can spare and what they’re interested in. This explored the idea of how we can be really transparent about what it’s like to volunteer with Scouts and give people a chance to learn about different ways to help.

It’s not just about joining of course, and one delved into how we could encourage volunteers to check in regularly and take a break if needed. They discussed the idea of a Scout-life balance survey, as it was suggested that after the initial conversation a survey could be done to find out more about people’s time or availability. The survey could identify if there was anything they wanted to keep doing, like programme planning, or if they’d still like to be invited to socials and camps.

Jon, a former leader at Scouts, said, ‘I would’ve liked to have been given this option, there’s aspects I probably would have stayed involved with.’

All of these ideas were debated by attendees at the Design Lab; and all of the brilliant insight and learning will be fed into plans to make volunteering with Scouts as fun and easy as possible. Thank you to everyone who has taken part in this event and all of the research so far, as your insight is hugely valuable and will help us to shape the future of volunteering at Scouts. Snook and the volunteering team are currently designing a brand-new volunteer journey based on all of the research undertaken – so watch this space!

If you’d like to get involved with testing the ideas being developed, join the adult volunteer journey community of interest.

 

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