I have registered as a volunteer, how quickly can I expect to get a project?
That depends on when a charity asks for support that suits your skill set. Just having you on our register enables us to offer a wider range of skills to our clients, so we are very grateful to people who join us, even if they don’t participate in a project right away.
Do I need to be resident in the UK to volunteer?
We find the best service is provided by volunteers that have a first-hand appreciation of UK charities by having lived in the UK for at least 5 years or have significant overseas experience working with charities.
How many projects will I be expected to take on?
Joining our volunteer register does not commit you to any level of activity or particular project with the Trust – it just indicates your willingness to be approached by us. We quite understand that work and other commitments take priority and that you may turn down projects. We are driven by demand from client charities – so if you have very unusual skills, we may not approach you as often as a volunteer with strategic or business planning skills. We make every effort to keep our database up to date with your availability and interest in taking on projects with the Trust – but very much appreciate hearing from you on how much time you have to give.
How much time does it take?
Consultancy projects can take anything from a half-day of specialist advice to 7-12 days of volunteer time spread over 6 - 9 months. Our average length of project is 6 - 8 days over 4 months. Trust Project Managers specify projects and estimate the amount of time involved to reach the objectives. Once a volunteer has agreed to take on a project, he or she will work with the client organisation to prepare a timetable – this will be flexible to accommodate the availability and requirements of both parties. Time is often broken into short meetings with the client, half day sessions and time working independently at home, and is almost never in blocks of solid days’ work with the client.
- Time input differs from project to project and many volunteers remain in touch with their clients after a project is complete – although there is no obligation at all to do this.
- Mentoring assignments are usually a commitment of 60-90 minutes, monthly over a period of 6-9 months.
- Delivering a webinar or masterclass usually takes 1-1.5 days, including the session itself, depending on the length of the event.
- Telephone advice takes 2-3 hours, including reading briefing materials and the conversation with a charity client.
- Volunteering with HRNet depends on how many questions you are available to answer. Responding to a charity’s question usually takes up to 3 hours, if research into the issue is needed.
What support can I expect from Cranfield Trust?
In our consultancy work, a Trust Project Manager will prepare a detailed brief for you, giving background on the client, the project, the nature of the task, timetable and deliverables.
Our Project Managers stay in regular touch with volunteers to ensure that everything is going smoothly. If you find that you are unable to complete the project for any reason, the Project Manager will search for another volunteer to take it over, and if you need advice, support and information from the Trust or from other volunteers to help your project, the Project Manager will try to find this for you.
We are always happy to hear from volunteers and charities working together and are keen to provide any support we can to ensure a successful outcome for both sides.
Project Managers also provide support to volunteers acting as Mentors to charity leaders, and to volunteers providing telephone advice, or delivering masterclasses and webinars.
What happens if I take on a volunteering assignment and find that work commitments prevent me from completing the project?
We understand that work commitments take precedence over voluntary activities. Your Project Manager will try to find an alternative volunteer to take on the activity – although we appreciate having as much notice and help in making a successful handover as possible.
What if when I visit the charity I find that the consultancy project is different from the original brief?
We make every effort to prepare a brief which accurately reflects the nature of the project, but it is not unusual for consultancy requirements to undergo some change. Our client organisations tend to be small and subject to considerable change, which can affect project work. If the project has changed substantially and is no longer a good match for you, please discuss this with the Project Manager who will revisit the client to review the position. If there are other changes – for example changes in the charity’s situation or structure which affect the project, again, our Project Manager should be able to advise.
What feedback is there after the project is finished?
We use our Journey to Excellence framework to collect feedback from both client and volunteer after each consultancy project, and again 9 -12 months after project completion. Our experience is that client organisations provide feedback direct to the volunteer as well as through the Trust, and examples of this are on our website. We are pleased to share feedback from client organisations with their permission and from our own Project Managers.
We also collect feedback from webinar delegates and from charities using Cranfield Trust On Call, our telephone advice service.
Can I be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses?
Out-of-pocket expenses are the responsibility of the client organisation, not the Trust, and should be discussed at the start of a consultancy project or mentoring assignment. We make every effort to keep expenses to a minimum, but ask volunteers to make it clear to our clients that they are expected to cover volunteers’ expenses.
Can I recommend a friend or colleague as a Trust volunteer?
We are always delighted to have introductions to potential volunteers and encourage our volunteers to let their network know about our various volunteering opportunities.