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The future of volunteering is bright despite sector challenges


In uncertain times, it’s important for communities to pull together. That’s why 100 delegates from Hampshire based charities and voluntary groups delved into the new decade with a conference debating the future of volunteering and upcoming challenges for the sector. Community First hosted ‘Volunteering for the Future’ at Ageas Bowl, West End on 24th January 2020.

Mark Howland, Head of Communications at Charity Bank, forecasted upcoming opportunities and challenges for the voluntary sector. Demand on charities is increasing while funding decreases, but new opportunities are available through trading and social enterprise. There remains uncertainty around the impact of Brexit, particularly for staffing. However, Howland’s suggestions for these challenging times included increasing digital activity, collaboration with other charities and the public sector, and new roles for volunteers.

Laura Storey, global HR communications at IBM, delivered a workshop about how storytelling can engage volunteers. Her talk emphasised the importance of messages with an emotional connection to help engage more volunteers. Delegates considered how to break down barriers to volunteering, by creating flexible opportunities and working to include people from all walks of life.

Nicola Winter, Home-Start Butser’s Scheme Manager, and Janet Duggan, Community First’s Business Volunteering and Engagement Manager, joined the speakers for an Ask the Expert panel. The panellists discussed harnessing digital tools, including Community First’s dedicated volunteering website Volunteer Wessex. Nicola also explained that a lot of support and fundraising can be achieved with a large base of volunteers, noting that “to be sustainable we have to use our community”.


Councillor Andrew Joy attended to speak about Hampshire County Council’s ongoing relationship with Community First and the voluntary sector, commending the work of local organisations. The buzz in the room showed that for anyone thinking of volunteering, there are many great organisations in Hampshire working together to make life better for everyone.


If your non-profit organisation is looking for volunteers, Community First’s Volunteer Service can help you via our dedicated website and volunteer website. If you would like to volunteer either in your own time or with your team at work, contact the team at, call 01730 777514 or visit Volunteer Wessex.


Continuing the discussion

If you work with volunteers and want to take part in training and networking for your organisation, we will be providing opportunities through our newly formed Volunteer Managers Network. Dr Debra Gray will be delivering a workshop around Building Sustainable Volunteering Communities as part of the first meeting, in Havant on Wednesday 12th February. There are still some spaces available. You can register for free via Eventbrite.

The same workshop will be running in Lyndhurst on Wednesday 25th March – book here.


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