Partnering with local groups to increase diversity

In this case study, discover how National Galleries Scotland (NGS) is reaching out to local charities and community groups to engage a more diverse range of people in their volunteer programme.

By Rebecca Pierce, Project Volunteer Coordinator at NGS

What volunteer roles do you recruit for?

We offer many different volunteer opportunities at NGS, including:

  • Collection care
  • Event support
  • Administration
  • Visitor experience
  • Specialist projects
Why does your organisation involve volunteers?

Our volunteer programme is a way of deepening public engagement, introducing new skills and opinions into the mix and providing development opportunities to people in Scotland.

How does your organisation remove barriers to volunteering?

To identify areas for growth for our volunteer programme, I went through NGS’ equality data, including volunteer and visitor demographics and attitude research. This gave me insights into which communities were underrepresented in our volunteer programme and why this might be the case. Many of the groups that had low or no engagement with our volunteer programme were those that have low or no engagement with NGS and heritage more widely.

To connect with these people, I reached out to local charities and community groups that worked with or represented them. I first had a chat with the groups about setting up a mutually beneficial partnership. I then set up private activities in the galleries for their clients and members to find out more about NGS and our collections. In exchange, participants provided feedback on how to make our volunteer programme more inclusive. I found that having this connection and face-to-face interaction massively increased trust and engagement from the participants.

Participants suggested offering a range of adjustments to make volunteering more inclusive and accesible:

  • Reimbursing travel expenses
  • Reimbursing the cost of a basic disclosure
  • Shortening application forms
  • Using plain English in role descriptions and advertisements
  • Advertising in different places, such as by distributing flyers to local establishments or hosting information booths at local organisations
  • Holding taster sessions for people to get a sense of the volunteer role before applying
  • Introducing online opportunities
What impact have volunteers made at your organisation?

Volunteers are absolutely critical to the work we do. We now enjoy a more diverse and connected programme that enriches the museum with a greater range of experiences and opinions. Our volunteers’ feedback has also enabled us to offer a greater variety of volunteer opportunities, which are more accessible and appealing to a wider range of people. Thank you volunteers!

Want to learn more about inclusive volunteer management?

Check out our resources and upcoming events and sign up to Make Your Mark to access a Scotland-wide heritage volunteer organisers network. Joining Make Your Mark will also subscribe you to a monthly e-newsletter with top tips for heritage volunteer organisers. Signing up is free and easy – just fill out this short form.

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