Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Olympics and the voluntary sector

We are planning a workshop for senior managers and trustees to assess the impact of the London Olympic Games on the voluntary sector, to be held at Barnett Hill near Guildford in April 2007.

To attend this important event or contribute to the planning of the content for this full day workshop please email us at

Who is carrying the standard for the voluntary sector?

2012 is a time for celebration with London (and other parts of the UK) playing host to the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The question for your organisation is this – what does it mean to you? Is the Olympics a real opportunity (and if so, what?) or is it a threat, in particular competing with you to attract volunteers?Competition for volunteers?

It is reported on the London Olympic Games web site that more than 80 volunteering organisations from across the UK have signed a pledge to deliver up to 70,000 volunteers who will be required to help make a London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2012 a success.The summit, held during National Volunteers' Week, highlighted the UK's ability to deliver the large numbers of volunteers required for an Olympic Games. Britain is number two in Europe for volunteers, with 43% of British adults reported as volunteering in some capacity (European Values Survey 1999-2001).

London is already preparing the way for the 70,000 volunteers required for the Games through its own volunteering project, Volunteer to Win. More than 30 Olympic-themed voluntary events have already been held in London as the result of grants from London 2012, underlining the importance London 2012 places on volunteering and the close links between the London Olympic Games and the voluntary community sector.

Justin Davis-Smith of Volunteering England is quoted as saying that, "The UK ranks second in Europe in terms of volunteering. More than 80 organisations, representing many of the UK's 23 million volunteers, have already pledged to provide trained, experienced volunteers to a London Games in 2012. As this campaign continues I'm very confident that England and the UK as a whole can deliver the volunteers needed for a successful Games."Volunteers will carry out hundreds of essential tasks, from ushering, driving, and general spectator services, and translation services through to medical and first aid care. London's volunteers would be fully trained and supported.

Sebastian Coe, Chairman of London 2012, said: "Volunteers are the lifeblood of sport in this country and the recruitment of them is an essential part of a successful Games. An army of volunteers will help out in a range of different tasks and will be a vital cog in the wheel to make things happen. They helped make the Sydney Olympic Games and the Manchester Commonwealth Games a huge success and we aim to build on that, and recruit a record number of volunteers."

Recruiting volunteers has already started through targeted marketing campaigns and in conjunction with partner organisations. Disadvantaged groups are being targeted to increase opportunities beyond the Games. Sources of recruitment include sports clubs and sports governing bodies, local volunteer centres, older people's groups, community associations, the faith community, and corporate social responsibility programmes.

The aim is to recruit 25,000 volunteers by 2008 and the full complement of 70,000 by early 2012. Volunteers will be encouraged to carry on doing volunteering work after the Games or to use the skills they have learnt and to get employment or education opportunities.

Richard Sumray, Chairman of the London 2012 Forum and the bid's volunteering steering group, said: "We will not only create a volunteer programme second to none in 2012 but also leave a volunteering legacy which will benefit communities in this country and, through exchanges, many overseas countries for years to come."

This being the case, here are some volunteering questions for your organisation to address –

1. In strategic planning terms, the Olympics are not that far away. If, as has been reported, there is going to be a major recruitment drive for volunteers to support the Olympics, what does this mean to your organisation and your existing and potential volunteers?

2. What volunteer recruitment plans have you got in place, and do they supplement what will be on offer through the Olympic volunteering programme?

Other issues

There are of course other issues to consider, in addition to the impact on volunteering. For example, do the Olympics provide you with further opportunities (or threats) that have not yet been fully thought through eg fundraising opportunities?

One thing is for sure, the impact of the Olympics on the voluntary sector will be felt wider than London and so we urge you to start planning now so that the London Olympic Games become an integral part of your strategic planning between now and 2012 – the danger is, do nothing and then miss the boat!

Here are some London Olympic Games facts and links for you to consider as part of your own strategic planning –

The London 2012 Volunteering Summit was made possible through a partnership with Skills Active, the Home Office Volunteering and Charitable Giving Unit, Sport England, the London Marathon Trust, get2thepoint and Volunteering England.

National Volunteers' Week runs from 1-8 June each year and 2005 was the Year of the Volunteer.

To find out more about events and activities during the Year of the Volunteer, go to the official website at

London 2012's volunteering project can be found at


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