But also have to respond to the comment re funders. I worked for several years as a grants (distribution/development) officer in the UK, for local, London and national funding bodies, and then later as a trust/statutory fundraiser for groups. So I got to know a lots of the UK funders very well (although we do have literally thousands of funding trusts here, let alone statutory, individual etc!) and I would say the majority of independent funders apart from perhaps some very small local ones, plus many of the larger bodies such as Big Lottery in the UK, Capcitybuilders etc, have a very strong awareness of the positive ADDITIONAL value of involving volunteers and would be horrified at any suggestion of replacing paid staff with them.
In my honest experience from the other side of the fence as an “evil” funder (?!?!) it actually tends to be the charities themselves applying for the funding who undervalue both staff and volunteers, and decide to squeeze the budgets they put forward towards unrealistic or unethical use of job replacement by volunteers.
I do of course understand that specific funder’s application limits sometimes push groups in that direction, but honestly, I don’t feel it is at all fair to blame most independent (ie non-statutory)funders for that here, as they also have a very hard job (can already hear some booing and hissing at that stattement, but just try it! Having to turn down often 70% of even good applications because you haven’t got enough to give or they are just putting forward crazy ideas is an incredibly heartbreaking and frustrating job! Hence my move away from it!!!). Statutory funding, particularly local councils, are however another matter – most are as you said, useless on this, especially with all the Big Society idiocy.
Hey ho, maybe this’ll set off a whole new branch of discussion – but maybe we should be more grateful for what we do have in the UK despite the massive hardships of the current recession if Jayne’s description is right?
I’ve been catching up on some reading recently and came across this comment piece from Third Sector which I think has relevance to this thread. I love the comment that “Yes, there is an easier way to produce results-based performance. It means tackling problems that are solvable, focusing on outcomes that are achievable and outputs or indicators that can be measured.” The idea that we should temper our vision by only doing those things that are easy to measure is a worrying one and sums up well the danger of not facing the challenges of measuring impact more usefully because it is too hard to do so.
That’s why I love the final paragraph as well “the sector’s role has always been to address precisely those issues that society has found difficult to resolve – issues that require inputs at individual, community, and political levels, where the sector’s input is only one in a multi-agency effort (for example, beating heart disease), where attitudinal or behavioural change involves improvisation, trial and error, and where the best outcome might be three steps forward, two steps back.”
All best wishes