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The future of volunteering

Posted on 20 December 2016

The face of volunteering in museums is changing, but can the sector keep up? A new model is being launched in January to take volunteering into the 21st century.

There is a change in the volunteer landscape. Millions of people across the UK give up their time each year, but recently there’s been a shift in demographics to include more and more young people and teenagers. 

This is exciting, and offers museums and other organisations the opportunity to create a real volunteer community.

Introducing – Volunteer Makers. This new model brings together volunteering and public participation with audience development, marketing and digital to create meaningful relationships with these 21st century volunteers.

The two-year national programme has been funded through our Museum Resilience Fund. It builds on a pilot project developed at Wardown Park Museum in Luton, which proved transformational. It resulted in volunteer numbers increasing from 40 to over 1000, and helped them build wider links with the Luton community and businesses.

volunteering for the modern world

One of the developments is the Volunteer Makers app. This will be available for free to all participants. It provides personalised volunteering activity through gamification, a challenge database and skills/interests matching.  

This will revolutionise the nature of volunteering and will create a legacy volunteering for organisations, extending and adding value to regular volunteer communities.

John Orna-Ornstein, Director of Museums, Arts Council England, said:

“We know that people still want to give their time to volunteer, but also that that time needs to give something back. Museums need to offer more than just operations or events. They need to offer support, interaction and sustainability across the range of their activities.

“Volunteer Makers offers an intelligent answer to this problem. The app in particular not only makes it easier for people to find out how they can help, but addresses their interests or availability so that everybody wins. It’s volunteering for the modern world. And it’s going to have massive benefits in communities across the country.”

A family look at an interactive map on a screen
A family explore an interactive version of Booth's map of London at Museum of London. © Museum of London

The programme will engage with over 500 museums over the next 18 months, including 30 one-to-one workshops, a series of regional seminars and a national conference in 2018.

Volunteer Makers Director Claire Sully said: “The Museum sector is leading the way in developing innovative models for engaging their communities. We believe this work will help museums as they connect with and grow a wider, more diverse support base that will help sustain the sector and prove important for other sectors too”.

The programme launches at the Museum of London on January 12th with a free ‘Future of Volunteering’ seminar, in partnership with London and the South East Museum Development network. The seminar will be part of a national Heritage Volunteering Network conference.

All programme activity is free to participating accredited museums in England.  

More information

Find out more and book for London and South East seminar on 12 January.

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