KKP

KKP and coronavirus: taking care but fully operational

First and foremost, we hope that our clients, colleagues, families and friends are all well and physically unaffected by this virus.

Taking into account the latest Government advice with regard to the coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak, this is just a brief note to reassure our clients about the fact that KKP’s services remain fully operational.

We are continuing to service existing projects as normal and are committed to meeting pre-agreed deadlines.

We have implemented changes to current working practices and will, for at least the next few weeks, operate with a mix of staff working from home while others work from the office. All colleagues have full access to project files and will continue to deliver projects as required. We can all be contacted in the normal way.

In line with Government guidelines our working practices are under constant review. At present, in situations where it is not possible or is inadvisable to attend meetings in person we are facilitating conference calls, virtual meetings and presentations to suit and encouraging a ‘business as normal’ approach to ensure that project impetus is not lost and that clients’ needs are met throughout this period.

However long the restrictions associated with Covid-19 are in place, it is our intention to be here to assist you to develop plans, get processes moving and maintain current project impetus. If you have any queries about current assignments, or if you have a project or short-term requirement that might need our support, please get in touch.

If you have any queries about any of the above, please feel free to contact me.

 

Dave McHendry, managing director, KKP

Contact Dave on david.mchendry@kkp.co.uk

Joint strategy offers vision of new future for cricket in Wales

The launch of a new national competition makes this a big summer for cricket, and for Welsh cricket in particular. Paul Ashton evaluates KKP’s work on the first joint strategy for the future of the game in Wales.

 

In March 2019 KKP was jointly commissioned by Glamorgan County Cricket Club (GCCC) and Cricket Wales (the national governing body for cricket in Wales) to develop a cricket strategy for Wales that would link both the community and the professional game.

The purpose was to identify the facility needs for the game of cricket across Wales, providing a structure that would enable both organisations to identify and deliver their strategic aims and objectives, enable cricket to thrive across Wales, and enhance the experience of players (at all levels), spectators and volunteers. This first-ever joint strategy between Cricket Wales and GCCC also needed to encompass the essential elements of the overarching ECB Inspiring Generations Strategy (2020-24), which are:

  • growing and nurturing the core
  • inspiring through elite teams
  • making cricket accessible
  • engaging children and young people
  • transforming women’s and girls’ cricket
  • supporting communities.

Cricket Wales and GCCC were keen that the strategy helped to identify opportunities and priorities for future investment, including the role of the ECB as a key partner – anticipating that the ECB would be making increased facilities investment available to reflect the growth of the short-format game and the launch of its brand new competition, The Hundred, in summer 2020.

As well as helping plan and identify priorities for developing infrastructure fit for purpose for the future of cricket, the strategy addressed other key challenges and opportunities facing cricket in Wales, including:

  • Wales hosting a franchise in The Hundred competition
  • growth opportunity related to new markets and audiences, including female participation
  • talent development
  • collaborative opportunity, including options to work more collaboratively with other sports
  • the planning process in Wales and, in particular options to consider community asset transfer.

With these parameters and expectations agreed, KKP set to work to prepare a facilities strategy to meet the needs of cricket across Wales. The starting point was application of the principles of the Sport England Playing Pitch Strategy guidance, a document drafted by KKP and published by Sport England in 2013. KKP began its work on behalf of Cricket Wales and GCCC by contacting all national and regional cricket stakeholders to start to produce a needs assessment evidence base. This was informed by extensive in-situ consultation with local and regional leagues, officials and grounds associations, area cricket boards and Sport Wales, alongside a wide range of other interested parties.

KKP’s national cricket club survey was completed by 149 of the 185 clubs affiliated to Cricket Wales. This meant that 81% of the nation’s community cricket clubs took the opportunity to engage with the consultation process, inform the resulting evidence base and shape the future of their game.

Cricket Wales’s area managers were integrally involved in strategy development. They are closely connected to local cricket and its development, so their role in the review and verification of information collected was vital. The data was then stored and analysed within a bespoke database created by the KKP data analysis team specifically for this project.

The focus on face-to-face meetings, information gathering and data verification enabled the project group to gain a clear picture and a deep understanding of the present state of the game across Wales and the range of issues that will need to be considered and addressed to shape its future. The team worked collaboratively to develop a set of recommendations and identify a network of key sites for cricket that will underpin development of the game in specific growth areas while also supporting the work and activity of local cricket clubs.

To assist the delivery of the strategy recommendations and any future planning requirements, KKP used data collected during the project to develop an online interactive map. This enables Cricket Wales and GCCC to plan and prioritise actions at a national, regional and local authority level. It will also serve as an essential post-project tool to monitor implementation of future actions and developments.

With the summer of 2020 set to be the summer of The Hundred, cricket fans in Wales and the south west of England will soon be as familiar with the achievements of the Welsh Fire as they have been with Glamorgan. The Cricket Wales and Glamorgan CCC joint strategy should ensure that they have plenty to look forward to in the years to come.

Paul Ashton is a senior consultant with KKP.
Contact Paul at paul.ashton@kkp.co.uk

March 2020

NEWS RELEASE: EFL Day of Action highlights research findings and celebrates impact of football on local communities

ISSUE DATE: 10 March 2020

 

EFL Day of Action highlights research findings and celebrates impact of football on local communities

KKP analysis demonstrates scale and value of club/CCO impact

 

The EFL will be celebrating the positive impact of professional football clubs on their local communities today (Tuesday 10 March) following the publication of research carried out by KKP on behalf of the EFL Trust.

Football clubs across the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two will be taking part in the EFL Day of Action showcasing the programmes and activities that EFL clubs and their club community organisations (CCOs) deliver to help with a wide range of social issues, including diversity and inclusion, education, and health and wellbeing.

The report, produced by KKP and titled Measuring the Impact of EFL Clubs in the Community, shows that over a 12-month period EFL clubs/CCOs delivered some 562,000 hours of group activity, involved more than 886,000 people, and spent over £62.8 million on social and community projects. The study comprises the first comprehensive overview of club-based involvement in, and impact on, local communities and, viewed collectively, the whole of England.

Findings were based on a three-stage methodology devised by KKP in conjunction with the EFL and EFL Trust to apply common measures to the national network of clubs/CCOs, creating a clear national picture underpinned by robust data. The methodology comprised initial analysis of work carried out by clubs/CCOs, followed by a detailed pilot study of eight EFL clubs and, finally, the roll out of comprehensive survey to all EFL clubs nationally.

Rick Parry, EFL chair, introduced and acknowledged the importance of the report, commenting: “Our clubs have always had a unique position at the heart of their respective towns and cities, so it is important that we celebrate some of the fantastic work being carried out on a daily basis, and also understand the effect that clubs have on their individual and collective communities. Commissioned by the EFL to survey all EFL clubs and club community organisations, KKP has provided a unique study which allows us to demonstrate what clubs do on a national scale.”

KKP chief executive John Eady commented: “KKP’s extensive experience in the field of impact evaluation and specialist performance measurement expertise enabled us to devise a research method that generated the data and developed the analysis to demonstrate the huge community impact – and potential – of EFL clubs/CCOs.”

John Eady continued: “Over the course of the research more than one million data cells were produced and analysed. This was a huge task for Peter Millward and the KKP data team, which also applied a whole raft of geographic, socio-economic and household data to deliver results that were credible, insightful and replicable. The 93% response rate for the survey makes for robust, comprehensive data and is a testament to the effort and commitment of the KKP team to the project.”

In addition to a national report and dataset, KKP produced specific reports for each club and CCO. Each includes a catchment area profile (age structure, total population, projected population, deprivation measures and maps, ethnic composition, income, benefits dependency, crime rates, health indicators and activity rates) and findings related to participation, engagement, purpose, environment and funding.

The national picture that has emerged confirms the scale, human resources and time deployed in programmes that are covering: sport and physical activity; health and wellbeing; education and employability programmes; and community engagement.

Within the Measuring the Impact of EFL Clubs in the Community report, the EFL notes: “Looking ahead, a comprehensive baseline now exists that is not only informative in its own right but enables a more insightful strategic approach nationally and at individual clubs/CCOs.”

Notes for editors

 

 

Caird Park: the value of ambition

David McHendry explains how Dundee’s new regional performance centre can trace its roots back to an ambitious bid for a national project and why investment in good research rarely fails to pay off.

 

The opening of the new Caird Park regional performance centre in January 2020 brought a first-class facility to Dundee but, from a facility development perspective, it also served to illustrate the value of ambition and a long-term approach to sports provision.

Caird Park represents a significant investment by sportscotland and Dundee City Council. The £32-million scheme is now home to a full-size artificial indoor pitch, an outdoor 3G pitch that meets Fifa and World Rugby international standards, an eight-court sports hall, a sports science suite, health club and meeting spaces. These sit alongside an indoor athletics centre, an outdoor athletics track and floodlit outdoor velodrome. As well as providing a venue for Dundee United’s academy, Caird Park also serves as a community sports hub that is home to eight community sports clubs.

Caird Park was not a KKP project but the development of a major sports venue in Dundee has its roots in a different project that we had worked on some years previously.

In 2012 sportscotland and the Scottish Football Association invited bids from partner cities to host the Scottish National Performance Centre. KKP led Dundee City Council’s team and put together a strong bid based on the development of an unused part of Camperdown Country Park; this would have hosted the performance centre and hotel. Reaching the final bid stage of the process represented a significant achievement and also generated a great deal of positive feedback, not only from sportscotland and the SFA but also from the local and regional stakeholder organisations that had been part of the bid preparation.

However, the need for the national football team to be close to a major airport always had Dundee on the back foot. The Oriam at Herriot Watt University now fits the bill for sportscotland and the SFA’s needs.

KKP’s involvement with the project came to an end at the bid stage but the scheme had served to illustrate the potential for high-quality sports facilities in Dundee. Although the bid had been focused on a national performance centre, the process of developing the bid helped to make a case for a regional football development centre when the time came. A change of scale also raised the possibility of a change of location and offered the possibility of co-locating with the existing facilities in Caird Park, creating a large sports hub closer to the centre of the city.

In the context of a bid for a national performance centre, a regional football centre might seem like something of a runners-up prize but, a few years on from that first KKP-led project, the Caird Park scheme represents an excellent outcome for the city. The Caird Park development has generated significant inward investment  brought significant investment in the City offer and created a high quality, accessible, comprehensive home for sport in the region.

Caird Park demonstrates that, the time, energy and expertise invested in making a properly researched and well-prepared bid is seldom wasted. Any opportunity to undertake an in-depth assessment of facilities, demand and potential is an opportunity that should be grasped.

Caird Park also serves as a reminder of the value of ambition. If Dundee was always an unlikely venue for Scotland’s national performance centre, it was a bid that fitted in with the city’s determination to rediscover and reinvigorate itself as a city of opportunity and culture. The city is now the host to the V&A Dundee, the first design museum in Scotland and the first Victoria and Albert Museum site outside London, illustrating what can be achieved with a strong vision and a determined, strategic approach.

In the end the national performance centre did not come to Dundee but it could not see any reason why it shouldn’t. By having the confidence to bid, the city demonstrated its ambition and created an opportunity to reimagine its approach to sports provision.

At KKP our experience tells that asking the right questions is the starting point for a successful project. With Caird Park and the scheme that laid the foundations for its development Dundee demonstrated that, rather than “Why?”, the first question should always be: “Why not?”

 

David McHendry is managing director at KKP.
Contact David at david.mchendry@kkp.co.uk

27 February 2020

The FA National Football Facilities Strategy: delivering a nationwide set of local football facility plans

KKP’s work on behalf of the FA to deliver a local football facility plan (LFFP) for every local authority is nearing completion. Andrew Fawkes explains how it has been done and what it means for local football.

Grassroots football facilities, their poor condition and impact on the pathway to performance of our national team are perennially emotive issues faced by the FA and frequently raised in the national media. However, the FA is now implementing a 10-year strategy to change the landscape of football facilities in England. This is underpinned by an action plan for investment in every local authority, referred to as a Local Football Facility Plan (LFFP).

KKP is leading delivery of the LFFP programme, working hand in hand with county FAs. This process has run over an intensive two-year period and is scheduled to be completed by mid-2020.

Working in partnership with the UK Government, the Premier League, Sport England and the Football Foundation, the FA is setting out its response to, and estimating the costs of addressing, the needs of grassroots football in light of KKP’s work. Feedback on existing facilities received as part of the LFFP process consistently mirrors that of the national strategy. It is a picture of poor-quality grass pitches, changing pavilions in need of improvement, and insufficient access to floodlit, artificial grass (3G) football turf pitches (FTPs). The cumulative ask in terms of capital investment required is huge but the FA is also playing catch-up in terms of facility numbers; England has only half the number of 3G pitches of its European footballing neighbours.

Having now spoken directly to over 2,000 grassroots football clubs, nearly 300 local authorities plus a range of other stakeholders (not to mention covering thousands of motorway miles), our team has identified an excellent portfolio of pipeline projects. Surrey is one of the areas with high potential; it is also one of the largest and most diverse of the FA’s counties. The Surrey County FA serves an area with a population of over two million people, 4,000 teams and more than 40,000 registered players. It encompasses the 11 boroughs and districts in the Surrey County Council domain plus five London boroughs. It is also an area where the county FA takes a strong lead on facilities development.

Quite a few community clubs in Surrey are, in terms of levels of demand and their management capacity, capable of taking on full-sized FTPs in their own right. As an example, following KKP’s work on Waverley Borough Council’s playing pitch strategy (PPS) and now its LFFP, several projects are either in the pipeline or are now on the point of delivery. Some of these are supported by significant Section 106 funding and all are benefitting from strategic engagement with the Football Foundation.

Of the 330 LFFPs commissioned, 70% are now signed off and being activated by county FAs working with the Football Foundation Engagement Team.  From KKP’s perspective, it is highly encouraging to note that stakeholder feedback on the LFFP development process is very positive; across all plan elements, more than 93% of those who expressed a specific view confirmed the usefulness and accuracy of their plan’s content.

This overwhelmingly positive feedback is a strong endorsement of the methodology KKP has developed over many years of experience in this field. It is also a testament to the hard work the KKP team puts in on the ground, visiting sites and engaging with clubs and communities in situ to develop real insight into facilities and the opportunities they can deliver.

Andrew Fawkes is a Principal Consultant with KKP. Contact him at andrew.fawkes@kkp.co.uk

Details of the LFFP programme are available via the Football Foundation website at https://localplans.footballfoundation.org.uk

(Figures based upon receipt of 318 responses from local authorities, county FAs and other stakeholders). 

 

14 February 2020

NEWS RELEASE: New commission takes KKP to playing pitch century

Issue date: 11 February 2020

New commission takes KKP to playing pitch century
100 playing pitch strategies since new Sport England guidance

Knight, Kavanagh and Page (KKP) reached its playing pitch strategy (PPS) century with the recent commission from Halton Borough Council. This will be the 100th PPS that KKP has undertaken since publication of the Sport England PPS Guidance in mid-2013.

Playing pitch strategies are commissioned to ensure that funding is invested effectively, reaching the right pitches in the right places. Sport England recommends that all local authorities have an up-to-date PPS in order to meet the recreational, sporting and physical activity needs of local communities. They now also underpin the FA’s Local Football Facilities Plan for each local authority in England.

Claire Fallon, KKP director and principal consultant who leads KKP’s work in this discipline, commented: “Our 100th PPS commission since the Sport England guidance is a significant milestone, both for KKP as an organisation and for the concept of a proper planning process for playing pitches, which are fundamental to sport at all levels and in all areas of the country.”

Claire continued: “The number of PPS commissions KKP receives is testament to the hard work that our team puts in, gathering the most robust data possible, getting out to speak to users and seeing the facilities for themselves. Our team makes it their responsibility to visit every site and talk to anyone and everyone who might be a user or stakeholder. They take great pride in getting their boots muddy in the line of duty.”

KKP’s approach to preparing a PPS emphasises the importance of site visits, a detailed inter-personal consultation process, and the compilation of comprehensive reliable data. Site visits enable the KKP team not only to log every facility but also to assess the scale, quality and accessibility of each pitch, along with the opportunities it might represent. The consultation process involves numerous face-to-face and telephone interviews, ensuring the full engagement of all stakeholders, while the company’s geographic information systems (GIS) team provides a huge resource, mapping demographic and participation data, and evaluating the impact of population increases and housing development to underpin the process.

KKP chief executive John Eady commented: “This is our 100th PPS since the Sport England guidance was published but KKP has been delivering them since 2002, so we have actually done a great many more. Our track record was the reason for KKP’s selection to the 2010 PPS consultants framework and also what prompted Sport England to commission KKP to draft the PPS guidance on its behalf. This was published in 2013 and we were pleased to be able to make our knowledge and experience available to such a wide audience.”

Eady continued: “KKP’s reputation and client base in this field has grown rapidly, primarily because we commit ourselves to the highest standards and the quality of our work is founded on the most detailed evidence base in the sector. This approach means hard work but our insistence on working this way is based on the fact that face-to-face consultation unearths realistic, robust issues and better identifies demand. Our success in this field suggests that clients recognise and value our commitment to high standards and high-quality outcomes.”

Notes for editors

• Further details of KKP’s work on playing pitch strategies and in all aspects of the fields of sport, leisure and planning are available via the KKP website at www.kkp.co.uk
• Claire Fallon and John Eady are available for interview. Please contact KKP via 0161 764 7040 or email mail@kkp.co.uk
• The Sport England document Playing Pitch Strategy Guidance: An Approach to Developing and Delivering a Playing Pitch Strategy is available via the Sport England website at: www.sportengland.org/facilities-and-planning 
• The KKP post-project completion survey undertaken with all clients between 2014-2019 showed that more than 97% of clients would recommend KKP to others and more than 93% were prepared to be referees.

Importance of quality

KKP’s approach to quality and customer service has served its clients well over the course of 30 years of business. John Eady explains how and why quality is central to the Company’s modus operandi.

Maya Angelou, the American poet, singer and civil rights activist, said, “People forget what you said. They forget what you did. But they never forget how you made them feel.”

KKP is a busy consultancy practice with a great many projects running at once and it is easy to get caught up in what we do, what we think we have achieved for our clients and the great service provided. However, although we do excellent work, it is essential never to forget that it is the client that matters most. Great customer service is measured by whether, at the end of the assignments, clients feels that they made the right decision in choosing KKP to deliver the strategy or solve their problem. Even when we disagree with a client’s point of view – and it is fundamentally important that we are able to disagree – it is vital that they know that we are on their side and committed to helping them.

The absolute underpinning of this is quality. Fully rounded, the concept of quality draws upon a wide variety of elements, skills and behaviours: open-mindedness; listening and hearing; knowledge, experience and expert analysis; plus the confidence to reflect and challenge. However, at the top of the list of the essentials of quality would have to be: attitude, communication and commitment to the client’s interest.

KKP first acquired ISO9001 quality certification in 2007 – for project management and delivery – as part of a determination to put quality at the centre of our business. We have been successfully reassessed every year since, up to and including 2019. ISO, in effect, drives continual review and improvement across all work areas. It subjects the organisation to regular interrogation and oversight by expert external assessors but ultimately the quality of our operation will be judged by our clients.

On project completion, all clients are asked to evaluate and rate us on the following criteria:

  • The final product delivered: how well we met the brief, attention to detail, the quality of work undertaken and the report/strategy/feasibility study/evaluation produced.
  • The quality of client communication, support and advice, both during and after the delivery of the contract.
  • On-time delivery and the meeting of deadlines, with regard to overall outcomes and interim project milestones.
  • The extent to which they consider us to have delivered value for money.

Between 2014 and December 2019 KKP received completed feedback from 126 clients; two thirds of these were local authorities with the balance from a combination of national governing bodies of sport (NGBs), planning consultancies and developers, universities, leisure trusts and active partnerships. All the feedback we receive is scored and analysed; we believe the results speak for themselves. Most notably, virtually all (more than 97%) would recommend us to others and more than 93% are prepared to be referees.

In 2020 KKP entered its 30th continuous year in business so there is a good chance that our clients know who we are, how we work and what they are going to get in terms of our experience, attitude and ethos. After three decades of working across a range of professional sectors on a wide variety of projects with a huge number of clients, we have come to the conclusion that the process of choosing and working with a consultancy can be boiled down to the following fundamentals:

  • Choose a practice that you know will look to learn with you from any subject or situation.
  • Work with people who do not come with fixed ideas about how things are supposed to be and how to handle them.
  • Value truth and integrity above all other things; they are the key to high-quality consultancy and without them the support you get will be of limited, if any, value.
  • Choose people who will go into battle for you (and if necessary – behind closed doors – with you) to ensure the right outcome.

When you are choosing a consultancy keep these fundamentals in mind. Investing in quality is always worth the cost.

Client rating of KKP delivery (as of 31 December 2019)



 

7 February 2020

When it comes to transforming volunteering, beware of transformation

Volunteering underpins a huge proportion of community life but how can we make the volunteering experience better for volunteers and the organisations who rely on their help? John Eady offers some thoughts.

Across the UK volunteering is recognised as the keystone of community life. The huge amount of time and activity delivered by volunteers is, quite rightly, celebrated as an essential contribution to the work of the many organisations that depend on them. The support, devotion and assistance of this unpaid workforce is of enormous value to the recipient organisations and has a profound impact on lives, environments and opportunities within communities all over the country. Of no less importance are the significant health, wellbeing and personal development benefits that good volunteering can have for the individuals who give their time.

Note the use of the word ‘good’ here: good volunteering is the key. Given that so much of the nation’s sporting and cultural life is dependent upon volunteering, it is vitally important that we get it right. Making volunteering a positive experience, both for the volunteers that contribute and the organisations that rely upon them, is crucial but it is not easy and it is not always done well. Working with volunteers and managing the volunteer experience needs to be much better if our volunteering culture is to thrive.

Influence

Transforming the volunteering experience to maximise the effectiveness of the contributions being made does not necessarily require seismic shifts in the volume or type of work being undertaken. However, volunteers do need support. If this support is to be effective there needs to be a clear understanding of who our volunteers are, what they do, why they do it and what value their volunteering delivers, both for themselves and to the organisations with which they work.

Lead agencies and organisations need to be committed to volunteer development but they also need to be clear from the outset about the ways in which the programmes, venues and networks supported by volunteers will be funded in the future. A great many sports venues, parks and open spaces, along with all the opportunities they create, will depend upon this – and the volunteers who lend their time, energy and goodwill so prodigiously deserve nothing less.

Intelligence

Equally vital is clarity about positive and negative volunteer involvement, remembering to differentiate between the value of engagement for the participating volunteer and the organisation receiving the input. Experience suggests that while the overwhelming majority of volunteering input is founded on good intentions, the outcomes do not always end up matching the original ambition.

Organisations looking to transform the volunteer experience and the effectiveness of the volunteering input need to be clear about their own direction, contribution and outcomes. They also need to be clear about the management, funding and ownership of the environments, bodies and programmes to which their volunteers are contributing.

Within communities across the UK there is a whole raft of societies, ‘friends of’ groups, and voluntary clubs that adopt and perform a variety of stewardship roles for open spaces, sport, physical activity, allotments, parks, village and parish halls, play areas and community recreation facilities. In all these environments getting the desired transformation will depend upon a balance between, on one side, the support, engagement and co-ordination that might be interpreted as the imposition of ‘bureaucracy’, and the positive enhancement of the work of smaller groups and individual volunteers on the other.

All this work must also take into account the issues associated with, for example, age, gender, ethnicity, experience, and areas of high and multiple deprivation. There will also be local and project-specific improvement tools and mechanisms to be considered, including associated motivation and reward factors. When it comes to volunteering and working with volunteers, numerous strategies, processes and resources have been tried, tested and (to a lesser degree) evaluated. They may be of help to your improvement process.

Implications

If we’re talking about transforming the volunteering experience, the use of term ‘transformation’ might imply that volunteers on the ground, the ‘volunteers in charge’ and the professionals who manage and interact with volunteers have fully thought through what it is that they ask for and why. In truth, in the majority of cases a great many activities will have evolved around the need to react to local changes and circumstances. Across the annual (and longer-term) cycle of sport, arts, culture, open space, voluntary body or parks operations, more than we might like to admit will be based upon the characters of those interacting in the process rather than any specific overarching ambition.

Imperatives

All this means that any support provided must strike a balance: between leading and dictating; between direction and empowerment; between instruction and engagement. This support also needs to fit with the groups and individuals through which agencies look to ‘invest’ in excellent volunteer practices that align with their own strategic objectives.

Excellence in volunteer practices might include, for example: volunteer quality, recruitment and retention, improved communication and evaluation processes, a broader workforce with less pressure on key individuals, greater capacity to grow the workforce, and an ability to deliver an excellent experience for those involved.

Such processes need to consider and/or incorporate the key elements of a good volunteer experience, along with the skills and knowledge needed to enable the delivery of such an experience:

Examples of key elements of a good volunteer experience

 Preparation for the role
 Honesty about realistic time commitments
 Clarity about their place in the decision-making hierarchy, areas of influence, etc
 Whether roles are based on single or multiple tasks
 Levels of guidance and direction needed; and levels of guidance and direction actually available
 Volunteer induction when starting and when taking on a new role
 Volunteers’ understanding of, and respect for, each other’s roles
 Progress evaluation, recognition, appreciation and thanks, whether delivered personally or publicly.

Examples of the skills and knowledge needed to enable delivery of a good volunteer experience

 Leader/co-ordinator understanding of how individual volunteer roles fit within the overall environment, entity or function
 Appreciation of, and a commitment to, alleviation of personal work overload
 Leader and peer appreciation of the value of the volunteer role being undertaken
 The skill of the ‘task allocator’, including delegation, authorising, empowerment, recognition (of effort and achievement)
 The willingness of those in leadership positions to recognise, challenge and (if required) ‘weed out’ volunteers who limit or obstruct, particularly where this adversely affects the motivation (and ultimately retention) of other effective volunteers.

Attracting, training and deploying volunteers to work in areas such as tackling health inequalities, supporting the ill and unwell, or assisting people facing physical and mental health challenges and disabilities is hugely important. However, while the level of depth is often good, numbers are almost invariably low. Such work requires commitment for the long haul. As the number and proportion of people aged 65-plus rises there is a need to consider whether and how volunteer-based support can be provided to older people while also recruiting more effectively from this cohort.

Intentions

If we are trying to transform the volunteer experience one element of the solution might be to persuade those involved with leading and managing volunteers to better reflect upon what they, their people and their volunteers do, why they do it and with what results.

Few organisations find it easy to find time for volunteer leaders to discuss, plan, implement and review the actions they take to improve the volunteer experience. Organisations need to find a way to think about how they attract volunteer support, how long people stay in volunteering roles, which roles show the most attrition, and how volunteering in essential areas can be made more attractive and rewarding. Anything that can help them do this, or raise awareness of the range of support and guidance available, will pay dividends.

Investigation

Volunteer segmentation can also be a useful part of a transformative process. Considerable research has been undertaken into the motivation involved in volunteering but little which explores the motivational role of the different environments and experiences to which volunteers are exposed, for example age, duration of volunteering roles and recruitment routes.

Alternative segmentation approaches consider factors such as effectiveness, time commitments, and the extent to which the personality and attitude of ‘lead’ volunteers encourage or discourage the involvement of others.

While much discussion around these models will be essentially light-hearted and used to stimulate debate, such models do assist those involved to consider the nature of the volunteer resource they have at their disposal and the impact this has on their operation and progress.

KKP’s volunteer segmentation models encompass a range of such factors, including chronology, environment, background and potential motivations. While not exhaustive, the example below does illustrate the complexity of the sector and the level of knowledge, detail and understanding required to develop appropriate actions and resources.

Volunteer segmentation model

Inferences

While the sector may benefit from a transformative approach to the way it recruits, manages and deploys its volunteers, KKP’s extensive experience of working within and around volunteering suggests that terms such as ‘transformation’ can be problematic. What is innovative to one person may be standard practice to another. Alternative (if less ‘corporately sexy’) terms such as ‘learning’, ‘improvement’ and ‘development’ all imply change, whether that change is incremental, radical or revolutionary.

Perhaps the key is less imposition and more reflection (possibly with assistance), along with greater understanding and recognition of how an individual contribution at localised level underpins delivery of greater strategic ambitions and benefits.

Slightly corrupting a quote from an unnamed source: “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections every so often but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”

And slightly misquoting American humourist Leo Rosten: “The purpose of volunteering is to matter – to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference.”

 

31 January 2020

KNIGHT KAVANAGH & PAGE