Improving support for IET volunteers

6 February 2013
IET Communications team
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Image showing a volunteer stepping forward

The IET conducts a listening exercise to help boost volunteering.

The IET is conducting a strategic refresh of the way it engages with and empowers volunteers. More than 3,000 people volunteer for the IET, making them the strongest human resource within the Institution. It is vital they receive the best possible support and that is why the IET is running this project, named Volunteer Talent Support.


Volunteer survey

A volunteer survey, conducted through December 2012, provided valuable evidence and feedback into the current experience and opinions of the IET’s volunteers. The extensive survey successfully attracted a response rate of over 16% and has provided a database of ideas for exploration, as well as giving clear guidance on priority initiatives for 2013 and beyond.


Key learning points

Thanks to all the volunteers who took time to complete the survey, there are now some key learning points that will require early action to address. These are:


* Recruitment of younger people into volunteering roles needs to emphasise skills development, as well as other key motivations.

* There is an urgent need to improve the ways the IET recognises and thanks its volunteers.  The ways we do this will vary, but it needs to be more consistent and regular.

* Feedback on the results of volunteering activities is also very important and there should be a stronger emphasis on providing feedback, as well as more updates on general IET news and developments.

* More work on developing communications to ensure they are more helpful both in terms of content and accessibility.

* Our development of the Volunteer Gateway should be targeted at the problems volunteers are experiencing regarding finding key information on the web site – creating a single reference point for all volunteers to explore and share.

* In some areas there is a need to ensure volunteers have regular interaction with a primary contact, and to ensure this brings benefits in continuing to improve response rates, ensure feedback and key information is getting through, and helping to level expectations. This should also support the continuation of good working relationships.


In the free text comments, volunteers said many things that could make their volunteering roles easier. The most common appear to be more support or better engagement with staff, improved recognition and feedback, better resources (including improvements to help find information on the website), more communications and information on ‘the bigger picture’, and improved induction and reference materials (which includes more networking with other volunteers).


Next steps

The survey has also provided a large number of ideas, all of which have been captured. Many will input into priority projects but those that are not included in the first phase of actions will be extremely helpful in a process of continuous improvement as the IET aims to develop the way it works with volunteers in the future.

Virginia Hodge, chairperson of the Volunteer Talent Support Working Party, said: “I am grateful for the number and quality of responses that the survey received, especially given its length.… The support and recognition that this work is receiving from the Board of Trustees and senior members of staff is especially welcome.”

Sandra Godman, programme manager, said: “This survey has been immensely helpful in highlighting the priority areas for action from amongst all the comments and suggestions we regularly receive. Now we have a clear steer, we can focus on making changes that will have the most positive impact across our volunteer community.”

Once the Volunteer Talent Support Working Party has completed its analysis of the data, it will use the information to prioritise an action plan to address issues of concern, using the invaluable insights to ensure support is delivered in the most effective way possible.


More information

To see a summary of the survey please visit www.theiet.org/volunteers/surveys.cfm.

If you would like to find out more about the Volunteer Talent Support Project, please email volunteer@theiet.org