Fingal Volunteer Centre was the fourth Volunteer Centre in Ireland to obtain the Volunteer Centre Quality Award from Volunteer Ireland. At a celebration on Monday 5 December 2011 (International Volunteer Day), the Quality Standard Award was presented to the staff and volunteers of the Centre, in recognition of their high standard of service to the volunteers and volunteer involving organisations in Fingal County.
Following the rigorous assessment, Fingal Volunteer Centre was informed that it was indeed achieving a standard of excellence. In its report, the assessment team noted “The high level of support provided to organisations to help them involve volunteers and manage volunteers effectively, thereby improving the quality of the volunteer experience”. The team also stated “We believe Fingal Volunteer Centre is well placed to maintain its high work standards and to support the needs of volunteers and organisations in Fingal County into the future.”
Background to the Volunteer Centre Quality Award
The Quality Award aims to provide a clear and quantifiable framework for assessing the delivery of service by volunteer centres, each centre is required to provide the following minimum service standards:
- a volunteer-centred placement and support service;
- supports for not-for-profit organisations;
- to market and promote volunteering; and
- ensure internal good practice.
Minimum expected standards will be based on the Volunteer Ireland document, “A Quality Standards Document for Volunteer Centres in Ireland”. Adherence to this framework will ensure a minimum level of service standards is achieved. Evaluation is also seen as a capacity building tool to bring about high quality delivery of core functions.
Volunteer Ireland will facilitate a performance improvement framework. While it is acknowledged that the services volunteer centres provide are not always captured in raw statistics, evidence of a transition to best practice and a more standardised approach to developing work-plans and setting targets adopted across the network of centres will be required.
Additionally, volunteer centres will be required to occupy a physical space as well as a virtual one, and be open to all non-profits and all kinds of volunteers (i.e. not just sports; not just employees) within a county-wide geographic remit (in some cases local authority wide). There will be a base-level expectation regarding opening hours and other operational details. Volunteer centres will be required to facilitate Garda vetting of local volunteers and other necessary supports not available to volunteer-involving organisations. They will also be required to have a Board of Management and to be in compliance with relevant regulatory legislation.
Robust evaluation procedures
The Volunteer Ireland Quality Standards document incorporates a workbook listing examples of indicators and volunteer centres will be assessed in relation to it. The assessment process will be based on this workbook. Volunteer centres are required to develop an ‘evidence portfolio’ for submission. Wishing to draw on the collective knowledge and experience of Volunteer Ireland and the volunteer centres currently in existence, assessments will be by way of peer review, involving representatives from Volunteer Ireland, Department of Community, Environment and Local Government and volunteer centre managers on a rotating basis. It is envisaged that a minimum of 20% of volunteer centres will be reviewed each year and the review process will be managed by Volunteer Ireland. Emerging centres will be required to receive approval from the peer review group prior to being awarded funding by the Department.