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“The most important thing about volunteering is that it makes a difference.� NCVO Volunteering Impact Assessment Toolkit

This document contains a high-level summary of the Volunteer Impact Review. Its purpose is to inform volunteers, Societies, management and organisation partners of the findings, recommendations and plans arising from the Volunteer Impact assessment. Above all, it should be noted that over five decades the volunteers of The Arts Society have delivered a significant amount of impact; and that the nation is in their debt for the incredible contribution made to the arts and heritage; the creative sector; the well-being of people and to communities. This Report is, in addition to being a Review, a recognition and celebration of their achievement, passion and commitment.



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Amongst a broad range of topics, this Review looked in depth at matters such as why people volunteer, the scope of impact that volunteering projects have, the benefits derived by the volunteers themselves and crucially the benefits delivered to the beneficiaries of the projects. The Arts Society is grateful to everyone who participated in the Review for giving their time and for their candour in responding. It is valuable and significant that the Review has been informed largely by first-hand input and evidence from the volunteers themselves and from project beneficiaries alike. The Trustees studied the Review and the underlying research carefully and in detail. They have used the Review’s findings to make decisions about the future direction of, and support for, volunteering activities. It was found by the Review that volunteering generally delivers substantial and wide-ranging impacts and that it provides long-term benefits. The Review served to highlight many significant innovations and adaptations in several projects undertaken by three of the volunteering arms thereby ensuring the continuing sustainability of those impacts and benefits. The Review shows that this is particularly evident in Young Arts and Trails of Discovery with each of them reaching a wider audience and further increasing their volunteers’ impact in the arts and heritage sectors. Similarly, the Review demonstrates that Heritage Volunteering delivers high levels of skill and engagement across a wide range of heritage venues that, without The Arts Society backed volunteers, could not fund or resource this sought-after, necessary and valuable work. In those examples it is demonstrable that The Arts Society volunteers deliver what is needed, where it is needed, when it is needed to help preserve and protect the country’s and our communities’ heritage, and in so doing improve public engagement with and understanding of heritage and the arts. It was therefore disappointing that one aspect of volunteering was found by the Review to be no longer delivering the impact or benefits previously assumed by many to be the case.



The Review found that two of the archival bodies which receive copies of Church Records have had little or no use for them for some years. They reported insignificant numbers of requests even for sight of any Church Records by their own staff, by other bodies or by members of the public over the past 10 years and more. The third archival body also reported very low usage of Church Records but considered them as a useful part of their material on each church. There is little evidence that Church Recording delivers appropriate and relevant public benefit beyond the benefits derived by individual Church Recorders. For more information about each volunteering arm see section Findings, recommendations, actions.



BACKGROUND TO THE VOLUNTEERING IMPACT REVIEW In 2018, inspired by the views and questions of our volunteers, The Arts Society embarked on an impact assessment programme which had three aims:

• To focus on and evaluate the impact of our volunteering work • To plan and keep in mind the difference we want to make and finding out whether we are making that difference • To make such changes as to increase the impact of The Arts Society volunteering The Arts Society relies on thousands of volunteers across its activities. This impact assessment focuses on the activities that have traditionally come under the heading of Volunteering: Church Recording, Heritage Volunteering, Trails of Discovery and Young Arts. Whilst the assessment focuses on these activities, we would like to pay tribute to all the other volunteers who run the local Societies, Areas and national functions: without whom, there would be no Arts Society! We would also like to express our deep gratitude to all volunteers who have volunteered with their Societies and in the name of The Arts Society (and before that, NADFAS) - in the past, present and in the future. Thousands of Members have contributed millions of hours to our volunteering programmes which started in the early days of the association: many of our activities have been going for 50 years, and we have some active volunteers who have been involved from the very beginning. Your passion, energy and dedication is inspiring, whatever your role is or has been. Volunteering in The Arts Society is enabled by three central resources:

BOARD OF TRUSTEES, STAFF AND THE NATIONAL VOLUNTEERING TEAMS The Board is responsible for the governance of a charity - ensuring it is effectively and properly run and is meeting its overall purposes as set out in its governing document. The board consists of Trustees who work together and take overall responsibility for the charity. To govern a charity means to secure its long term direction, furthering its objects or purposes as set out in its governing document, ensure that it is effectively and properly run with legal and other obligations met. The Board also is responsible for safeguarding finances and resources and ensuring they are used to further the charity’s purposes. Since 2018, the Board have designated one Trustee to hold portfolio responsibility for volunteering. 6


Staff manage on a day to day basis the resources allocated by the Board to the volunteering activities of the charity. They are responsible for creating appropriate frameworks for volunteering, ranging from technical platforms to high-level partnerships and stakeholder engagement. Staff also provide central administrative support and liaise with national volunteering teams. They create and advise on relevant policies as well legal and safeguarding procedures and, as required, resolve issues. Each volunteering arm has a national team of volunteers that, with the dedicated support from Area Representatives, is responsible for coordinating and enabling the local volunteering activities. Each team delivers support activities as well as direction for the work carried out by their volunteers. They create and update resources, handbooks, guidelines and standards and where appropriate oversee their implementation. Volunteer Heads sit on the Advisory Council and meet a minimum of twice a year.

CHARITABLE IMPACT AND PUBLIC BENEFIT We have now completed the impact assessment review. Much of what we have found out is inspiring, relevant and impactful. Much is being achieved and our role in supporting the arts and heritage sector continues to be relevant and influential, albeit often below the radar. Internally we have acknowledged and celebrated these volunteering achievements: whether in the volunteering event in 2013 Rising to the Challenge; the 2015 Impact Report or the golden anniversary celebrations in 2018. As a charity, however, we cannot simply look back and take for granted that what we have done in the past continues to be relevant - and needed - now and in the future. The world around The Arts Society has changed, and the Trustees must consider how our charitable aims and objects connect with and support the sectors we operate - and how we can deliver impactful volunteering. Our charitable objects are:

1. The promotion and advancement of the education of the public in the cultivation, appreciation and study of the decorative and fine arts 2. the conservation and preservation of the artistic heritage of the United Kingdom and other countries for the benefit of the public 3. and the advancement of the arts, culture and heritage, in particular, but without limitation, the decorative and fine arts The Trustees considered where The Arts Society can, and should, have the greatest impact, within the framework of the available skills and resources as well as the charitable objects that define where we should aim to have public benefit. 7


Public benefit is an essential part of what it is to be a charity: this has been emphasised further with the introduction of the public benefit requirement in the Charity Act 2006. Public benefit it is not just a legal requirement that charities have to meet and that the commission regulates. It also provides charities with a positive opportunity to demonstrate the benefits they bring to the public, in return for the financial and other benefits that come from being a charity, such as public support. Public benefit is about knowing:

• what the charity is set up to achieve - this is known as the charity’s ‘purpose’ • how the charity’s purpose is beneficial - this is the ‘benefit aspect’ of public benefit • how the charity’s purpose benefits the public or a sufficient section of the public - this is the ‘public aspect’ of public benefit • how the trustees will carry out the charity’s purpose for the public benefit - this is what is known as ‘furthering’ the charity’s purpose for the public benefit The Volunteering Impact Review set out to evaluate the impact and public benefit the charity delivers, and should deliver going forward, against its strategic aims and objectives: and to change and act on the findings to ensure that the work carried out by our volunteers makes a real difference. There is a cost to delivering volunteering activities: this is reported on in the charity’s annual accounts where volunteering cost centres are available for the public to access. Thanks to the work of our volunteers, these costs are relatively low compared to our value output. Given that this Report focuses on the volunteering contribution and impact, we have excluded the cost / benefit analysis from this Report: however, in making decisions Trustees have included the relevant expenditure in their assessment of impact and public benefit.

OUR VOLUNTEERING ENVIRONMENT AND CONTEXT This Impact Review took into consideration the following questions:

• How has the environment and context changed around our volunteering activities? • Are our volunteering communities equipped (“Fit for purpose”) to meet the changing needs and requirements in their relevant sectors? • How does the work of volunteering activities impact on the Societies?



Over the past 50 years the sectors in which The Arts Society operates have transformed profoundly. To mention but a few key developments:

• • • • •

Churches Conservation Trust founded in 1969 English Heritage created in 1983 Heritage Lottery Fund created in 1994 National Churches Trust founded in 2007 Excellence and Equity published in 1992 by the American Association of Museums identifying the educational role as the core to museums’ service to the public • Church Buildings Council created in 2007 (successor of the Central Council for the Care of Churches) • Society for the Interpretation of Britain’s Heritage (now Association for Heritage Interpretation) founded in 1975 • National Trust continues to grow with more than 65,000 volunteers in 2018/19 When assessing the work of volunteers in relation to the primary beneficiaries (e.g. heritage, host organisations, institutions) one has to consider if the contribution we have made in the past continues to be relevant; in other words, is there still the same need for our volunteering work? The recommendations in this Report take this into account.

ARE WE FIT FOR PURPOSE? This may be a sensitive point, but the charity has to consider if our volunteers are ‘fit’ to carry out the work they are deployed to do in the current environment with regards to, for example, their health and safety, safeguarding, data protection, equipment needs and technical abilities. Much has changed around our volunteering communities in terms of legislative and technological frameworks, which means that what is expected of volunteers has changed. For example, host organisations now have additional responsibilities for volunteers, which is often reflected in the running of designated volunteering programmes. Likewise, the management of heritage has changed radically since the advent of information technology systems: most cataloguing is now done digitally, with public expectations that catalogues and inventories are - where appropriate accessible online. Many of our beneficiaries themselves are required to open access to their assets and consider how the public can engage with their collections (museums, churches, galleries). Finally, there have been significant developments in the management of 9


heritage assets: the physical handling of such assets; the evaluation of their value to heritage; the social and environmental context. The Arts Society needs to provide training and skills to ensure that such developments are fully supported and that our services remain relevant.

VOLUNTEERING AND OUR SOCIETIES Most Member Societies are engaged in some form of volunteering; many consider this their main public benefit and believe that they need to volunteer to deliver charitable impact. Society Committees are very aware of volunteering activities, whilst many individual Members do not engage with this aspect of their Societies’ work. Without reliable records on how many Individual Members consider volunteering the main reason for their membership it is difficult to gauge the overall value placed by Societies and their Members on volunteering. The only volunteering discipline that currently requests direct funding from Societies is Church Recording. Young Arts funds are spent on causes agreed by the Committee and usually administered by Young Arts Committee Members. Overall, Volunteering is a source of pride and local engagement for the leadership of Societies: they are aware that they make a difference in their communities through volunteering as well as their lecture programmes. Discussions around the ‘good work at Society level’ have led to the ‘joining the dots’ strategy for The Arts Society, recognising that most of our impact is delivered by Societies. More information on this will be provided at the Hub meetings for Chairs in March 2020.

STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT Over the past six years, The Arts Society has carried out a comprehensive review of its activities and brand position: this started with the widening of arts subject areas in the Articles of Association, through the rebranding on to the current work around awareness and the question ‘what do we want to be known for’. Using the brand platform developed in 2016/17, Trustees and management have worked to move the organisation forward to develop a new image that is rooted in current, relevant and impactful activities. All activities of The Arts Society need to be tested against the questions: “Will doing this activity contribute to the direction of travel? Will it hold us back? Or change the direction?”



As most volunteering activities predate the organisational structures put in place in 1999, they have become quasi-autonomous and evolved on their own terms, rather than in pursuance of the wider organisational aims and objectives. This Volunteer Impact Review is therefore an important - and perhaps overdue - opportunity to consider how the volunteering activities relate to the work of the charity in general. The charity’s strategic objectives and priorities that should be delivered by volunteering are:

1. The promotion and advancement of the education of the public in the cultivation, appreciation and study of the decorative and fine arts 2. the conservation and preservation of the artistic heritage of the United Kingdom and other countries for the benefit of the public 3. and the advancement of the arts, culture and heritage, in particular, but without limitation, the decorative and fine arts. 4. Impact and engagement in local, regional or national communities. 5. Better support our Societies and better support the arts. 6. The promotion of the vision, mission and values of The Arts Society. Given that the charity has to consider resources to support all these activities to a satisfactory standard and for maximum public benefit, this Report takes into account that not all activities contribute equally to the delivery of objectives and priorities: the recommendations therefore indicate where the activities have a positive/negative strategic alignment with the work of the charity.



FINDINGS, RECOMMENDATIONS, ACTIONS The Board of Trustees reviewed the findings in the Volunteer Impact Review and at its November 2019 meeting approved the implementation of the recommendations made in the Report. This section presents the findings, recommendations and decisions made by the Board.

HERITAGE VOLUNTEERING ABOUT Heritage Volunteering is the provision of skilled volunteers to help preserve the nation’s heritage, and facilitate access to it and education by it for the public. They care for collections, catalogue documents and artefacts, guide, steward, repair historic textiles and make new ones such as costumes, research into the history of a place or its garden - from the Heritage Volunteering questionnaire data there are up to 18 subcategories of Heritage Volunteering. The knowledge brought by Heritage Volunteers has been gained by experience, 56.63% have been volunteering for more than 5 years. The work they do in museums, libraries, historic houses and gardens must deliver public benefit which might be through visits to these places to see the premises and their collections, or as more recently, accessing online the results of their research.

FINDINGS Asked about their motivation to volunteer, 80.36% of Heritage Volunteers selected the options “strongly agree” or “agree” that it was to make a difference to the arts and heritage. As volunteers stated: ‘We made possible the displaying of priceless historical costumes to the general public’; or ‘the National Trust are grateful for our involvement and are giving us opportunities to hold special interest days in their premises’, and ‘small charity relying on volunteers to get the work done’. Projects may take several years to complete and require regular commitment from dedicated volunteers. Heritage Volunteering has always responded to a need and the work they do and projects they deliver are determined by the Host Organisations. This is where they give their time and skills, and the training is delivered by the Host Organisation or 12


under its auspices and at its expense, and overseen by it; thereby ensuring that it is done to the accepted standard. Occasional issues arising on our side so far have been due to the infirmity or incapacity of a volunteer, and the Host Organisation has unfailingly been concerned and considerate in their handling of it. Nevertheless we should review our Code of Conduct and Volunteers Charter on which the relationship is based to clarify responsibilities including in this circumstance. The meeting with the Art Loss Register raised the idea of inventory projects which are intergenerational like the ongoing parliamentary archive project. Younger volunteers can share technological and photography skills with older volunteers who have the benefit of traditional archive knowledge. This would help resolve one of the challenges sometimes faced by our Host Organisations of our volunteers: ​ ‘General lack of computer literacy, generally only being able to document manually leaving information to be added to database by other people.’ Measurement of impact is by report from the Host Organisation at the conclusion of the project. Also by occasional updates from the project leader, and by visits to the project by the Heritage Volunteering Area Representative. Reported impact is good and is reflected by the high engagement with the questionnaire (258 responses with a 91% complete rate (originally sent to 178 Area and Society Representatives demonstrating that the questionnaire has been forwarded on to Heritage Volunteers which don’t have a committee role). Issues rarely arise here and the reports are consistently very positive and complimentary about our volunteers, in the completion forms received from January to October this year, the three most common adjectives used to describe the work of Heritage volunteers were: ’successful’, ‘​delighted’​and ‘​excellent’.



DECISIONS OF THE TRUSTEE BOARD • Improve communication and reporting mechanism to learn more about the projects • Use this information through our communications channels to achieve greater publicity for the projects undertaken and to raise the profile of The Arts Society and its Heritage Volunteers • Offer inventories of churches and the collections of small museums using Art Loss Register methods • Build Heritage Volunteering teams which include older and younger participants to combine skill sets and share experience • Endeavour to provide opportunities for students to participate in Heritage Volunteer projects to give them skills and allow them to gain experience in the heritage sector and in conservation To improve measurement of Heritage Volunteering impact

• Introduce online feedback reports from Host Organisations on completion of projects. • Introduce online update forms • Continue the current processes of Annual Update Form by Area Representatives, and occasional visits. • Discontinue reporting of Heritage Volunteering hours which have no bearing on actual figures. It is an estimate of time given which does not have a direct correlation with impact.



CHURCH RECORDING ABOUT Church Recording is the creation of a comprehensive illustrated list and description of all the contents of a church at a particular point in time, under sections including memorials, metalwork, stonework, woodwork, textiles, paintings, library, windows and miscellaneous. This is the only output of Church Recording and has been since its inception. To ensure that this report gives a balanced account of all our Volunteering arms, additional guidance (FAQs) for Church Recorders has been prepared and can be requested from The Arts Society.

FINDINGS Historic England have registered a negligible number of access requests to Church Records for over a decade; they do not consider the production of further Records beneficial; whilst Records can be accessed at their archive in Swindon, there is no practical search facility to browse Records. The current storage contract for the Record expires in 2023 and unless public access is created, Historic England may not continue to store the Records held now. The V&A have registered a negligible number of access requests to Church Records for over a decade; they do not consider the production of further Records beneficial to their staff or the public; whilst Records can be accessed at their Reading Room in London (both hard and electronic copies) there is no practical search facility to browse Records. Church Care currently has no public access to Records: when they open new reader facilities in June 2020 the Records will be moved but they remain uncatalogued and are assigned to individual church files. The depth of information of Church Records exceeds the requirements of the Art Loss Register, which is the primary service for the recovery of lost and stolen art objects. They recommend a simplified method of recording which focuses on photography and simple descriptions. The Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 2018 states that the scheme “providing for the inspection of every church or relevant building in the diocese at least once every five years and having effect immediately before the commencement of this section, continues to have effect.� 15


This means that: An inspection of a church under the scheme referred to in section 45 must include an inspection of (a) every movable article in the church which the inspector is directed by the archdeacon, after consultation with the advisory committee of the diocese, to treat as being—(i) of outstanding architectural, artistic, historical or archaeological value, (ii) of significant monetary value, or (iii) at special risk of being stolen or damaged. This means that Church Records do not meet the requirement of the five-year period of inspection. Church Records are currently distributed locally to churches and County Records Offices directly by the Group, and centrally - following further checking and auditing - to national archives: this leads to instances of two different Records of each church in circulation, of varying quality and content. Although the Church Recording activity has been undertaken for almost 50 years by thousands of volunteers, to date approximately 2,000 Records have been completed. There are 16,000 Church of England Churches, and at least twice as many other places of worship. At the current rate, it would take hundreds of years to complete all Church of England Churches, let alone other places of worship. Over the past 5 years, various training schemes and technical options for online Church Recording have been explored. Aside from the significant capital cost and maintenance cost of hosted cataloguing solutions (in the region of £230,000), the technical proficiency and related training requirements exceed the ‘native skills’ of the Church Recording community, where a large number of volunteers still prefer offline methods or access electronic formats only reluctantly (e.g. only a small number of Recorders use the Church Recording Microsite). There is no compelling case or need for The Arts Society to set the aim of creating a complete set of Records covering all churches in the UK. Systemic concerns over the ability to meet the standards set by Church Recording run deeply: in 2011 a review was undertaken by the Church Recording Team where it was reported ‘22 [church recording groups] who need some guidance, 8 with weakness’, 11 floundering and 12 comatose’. As a recent email from a senior Church Recorder states, the standard of some Church Records is sub-standard and unacceptable, which has been observed by a number 16


of experienced Church Recorders; and yet that there are insufficient numbers of experienced Church Recorders to carry out training and offer support. There is significant variation in the available skills, ranging from zero computer literacy to advanced photography and IT literacy; as well as significant variation in the level of Church Recording expertise. This results in a mismatch of skills/ abilities/expertise, local output and the Records received and approved by leadership Church Recorders. There is a notable discrepancy between the expectations of Church Recording volunteers, its leadership and external stakeholders. There have been requests from external bodies for some diversity/alternative formats; requests that has been rejected by senior Church Recorders in the past. Requests for working with other volunteering arms, or supporting ‘lighter’ church inventories have also been rejected. It is clear that ‘local’ Church Recorders value deeply the activity and practice of Recording, and feel strongly that there is value and enjoyment in the following activities:

• • • • • • •

learning shared activity stimulation company local history local contribution the contribution to local Society

These grassroots Recorders see the primary value of the Records for local parish and clergy, and their Society; and for their own learning and local history interests. The placement of Records in national archives is of relatively little relevance to them. Church Recording as a volunteering activity and its associated local benefit to clergy and parish are not seen as sufficient public benefit for The Arts Society going forward. It is fully acknowledged that individual Members, Church Recording Groups and local churches benefit from the activity. Trustees have decided, however, that it is in the charity’s best interest not to continue funding this activity centrally. This is due to the limited public benefit in areas where the Trustees of The Arts Society wish to have impact.



SUMMARY • There is no evidence of a need for Church Recording to carry on this activity in its current format, structure or purpose. • There is very little return on investment for the charity. • Church Recording as a national project demonstrates long-standing systemic weaknesses in quality control, standardisation, succession planning, skills development and modernisation. Whilst efforts were made to overcome these weaknesses, the resources required to address this going forward and make the relevant changes are not justified by the low demand for Church Records. There is passion and enthusiasm for the activity at local level, and many Church Recorders would welcome a lighter approach to pursue their interests as well as a quicker and less technical approach to creating records.

DECISIONS OF THE TRUSTEE BOARD • Records which are already under way and are completed this year, will be accepted and passed on to the national archives until 31st December 2020, when the Church Recording project will conclude; • To withdraw the formal structure of Church Recording upon the completion of the project as a centrally supported activity; • To offer an ongoing volunteering activity under Heritage projects; the ongoing activity would emphasise the inventory approach, which is simpler to produce and would hold the necessary information to assist churches, insurers and police; • To continue to make existing resources available online to aid the ongoing activity; • To enable local rather than national Church Recording activities should volunteers/Societies wish to continue • To remove the requirement of submission of the information to the centre or external bodies; • To cease funding from the centre in 2021; • To remove the requirement for Societies having to pay towards the Records It is important to note formally that this decision is not a reflection on the work that has gone into Church Recording over the past 50 years and the remarkable body of scholarship and knowledge of ecclesiastical art in the UK that has resulted from this. Thanks to the efforts of thousands of volunteers, the contents of more than 2,000 churches have been recorded to a high standard, making this a nationally important resource. It has been agreed with the relevant archives that projects to make these records more widely available should be devised, and it is hoped that The Arts 18


Society will play a role in digitising and promoting the Church Records held in these archives for public benefit. The conclusion of the Church Recording project is in no way a diminution of the huge value, effort, and knowledge associated with the creation of these Records. It is also important to note that this decision does not mean that individual Church Recording Groups cannot continue to volunteer as an activity of their local Society, for the benefit of their local churches. Resources developed over the past 50 years will continue to be available to such Groups. For further information, visit our separate guidance for Church Recorders.

YOUNG ARTS ABOUT Young Arts delivers access to arts education and engagement to all, old and young, through projects funded and facilitated by our Societies (48.57% of Societies that take part in Young Arts spent between £500-£2000 per year) and sometimes assisted with grants from the Patricia Fay Memorial Fund. These projects include arranging art history lectures, coordinating and funding a visit to a gallery, providing an artist to deliver an arts or craft workshop in a school or gallery, sponsoring an art competition, working with a school to put pupils’ art in a hospital or station waiting room, facilitating art therapy, improving a public space in a local community.

FINDINGS Public benefit is direct - delivered to the beneficiaries of the project, many of whom are in circumstances where they have little or no access to the arts due to financial deprivation or other circumstances e.g. educational difficulties, disability or other disadvantage. The Young Arts questionnaire further revealed how Young Arts is a community driven activity, (community was the most popular keyword when volunteers were questioned about the benefits and in the questionnaire 41.41% of volunteers worked with local community groups). Over half of respondent Young Arts volunteers strongly agree that their main reason for volunteering was helping their local community (51.52%) and helping their local The Arts Society (52.67%). This has had a positive impact on our volunteers 19


with 81.1% strongly agreeing, agreeing or somewhat agreeing that their sense of community has increased and 56.56% strongly agreeing, agreeing, or somewhat agreeing that their personal development has also increased. Measurement of the impact is through an online reporting procedure to The Arts Society which tells us what has been delivered where, when, by whom, and at what cost. The obstacle to The Arts Society collecting a comprehensive picture of the significant public benefit being delivered through this volunteering arm is that the rate of return of these online reports is low, because so much goes unreported. Factors include not knowing, or understanding, the requirement, computer difficulties, and feeling their project did not fall under Young Arts and so it did not need reporting. This reporting situation which reached a low in 2018 and is now at the start of a new phase in turning it round. The effect is that The Arts Society has been underreporting the impact of Young Arts for at least the past three years. The name Young Arts does not reflect the age range benefiting from these projects as so many of our Societies considered their projects are not applicable for the reporting requirement. This has caused communication difficulties and frustration on both sides for the past two years or more. In the Society Questionnaire five Societies stated they did not take part in volunteering projects yet mentioned in further comments alternative projects which would be classified as Young Arts- ‘we sponsor Young Arts activities but do not participate in them’. There is confusion over the current name which is not inclusive as its definition. A name change and definition of subcategories would also result in the diversification of activities being reported back to The Arts Society and allow the effective measurement of future impact. The positive Host Organisation feedback from the questionnaire demonstrates the invaluable feedback which is currently not being received. One Host Organisation stated that the biggest impact Young Arts volunteers have had ‘Raised aspirations. To have your creative practice regionally and nationally recognised cannot be underestimated. The whole process has built resilience, personal belief and raised aspirations in our young people’. Creating a new report will allow Societies to update The Arts Society at various stages of the project so we will be kept better informed and reflect the impact of this volunteering discipline, as one volunteer phrased the impact of Young Arts -‘Getting to know what is happening to the NOW! Rather than reminding ourselves of the Past’. A new form would also replicate the success of recruitment 20


publicity at local level. This is demonstrated by the internal recruitment of Young Arts Volunteers through internal Society publicity with only 7.8% saying that it was a very important reason for joining The Arts Society. Understanding of the role of Young Arts Representatives. These challenges are demonstrated by low engagement with The Young Arts Questionnaire with only 142 responses (after being sent out to 280 Area and Society representatives who were requested to forward on to additional volunteers). From the Society Questionnaire it was revealed that 87% of Societies engage in Young Arts, the most popular volunteering activity compared to the other volunteering arms by 23.59%. When Young Arts volunteers were questioned on whether they understood what is expected of them only 33.33% agreed ‘all the time’ and 56.59% most of the time, further indicating the need for greater clarification on the role of Young Arts Representatives, including the reporting requirement and mechanisms. Insufficient publicity for these Young Arts stories as the lack of reporting means that The Arts Society has no knowledge of these excellent, wide-ranging and valuable projects. As part of the re-launch of Young Arts under its new Head there has been a change in the procedure for and new emphasis on the collection of stories and images which can be shared through our communication channels to celebrate the projects and help raise the profile of The Arts Society and its hard-working local Societies.

SUMMARY The evidence shows that Young Arts provides value for their Host Organisations, and their projects provide benefit and deliver impact across local communities, the arts, people of all ages, public institutions, charities, the arts sector, and the wider arts education sector. Projects provide resources where there may be insufficient funding/aid available, so they act as catalysts for engagement with the arts. It responds to needs ensuring that public benefit requirements are met, and that the resources provided by The Arts Society - and in a large part by the local Societies are used to further the charitable objects of The Arts Society.

DECISIONS OF THE TRUSTEE BOARD • Rename Young Arts to Arts Volunteering. This will encompass all arts projects, regardless of the age of the beneficiaries, and will align with HV as an all-embracing name. • Overhaul reporting and monitoring mechanism and re-launch the online reporting form with requirements to complete and clear guidance • Increase the number of returns of online reports. This will enable us to accurately measure what has been delivered in our name. 21


• Change the online form to show status of project which will give us an early and greater level of information as to what is planned so we can identify projects with great potential impact enabling us to have the story in advance and so arrange photos of the project/event and share it through our comms channels and possibly wider. • Improve the low profile of The Arts Society Young Arts volunteers and the wonderful projects they do. • Improve communication between The Arts Society and Young Arts volunteers, which has been started with the introduction of a new e-newsletter by the new Head, and will include additional training days and further support.

TRAILS OF DISCOVERY ABOUT Trails started under Young Arts as Church Trails and was an activity for children aged 8-12 years whereby a Trail consisting of a sheet of questions led them round the interior of a church drawing their attention to the art and architecture of it. An accompanying answer sheet was provided for parents or teachers who went round with the children. Church Trails are still an important part of Trails of Discovery but the activity has broadened and diversified to include trails for historic sites, towns, and other places of worship - the latter are more of a guide than a Q&A format. Most recently Memory Trails have been introduced for those living with dementia - these are a sensory guide around a church with questions which are designed to prompt memories and discussion rather than answers. Most of the trails produced to date are Children’s Trails in churches. The highest number of recently completed trails are Memory Trails, featured in the 2018 promotional film now available on The Arts Society website demonstrating the positive impact of publicity to Trails of Discovery.

FINDINGS The impact of Trails is immediate, and direct to the participants in the Trail ‘opening up new worlds to children’ and ‘extends the idea of education - which is not just about academic results’



We have little measurement of impact. What we have is mainly occasional and anecdotal, and we have no real method in place for assessing this. As a result we have missed out on feedback from Host Organisations which have been ​‘very satisfied’​ and where ‘​The volunteers provided a different viewpoint that has appealed to many of our visitors’. The questionnaire results showed that Trails of Discovery volunteers believed that their key impact lay with the Host Organisation, with 17.24% strongly agreeing with this statement. The second highest percentage was the impact trails have had on the Societies (with 16.13% strongly agreeing with this statement). There was a high engagement with the Volunteer Impact Review process including the questionnaires which demonstrated the commitment and enthusiasm of the volunteers involved in this activity. Further comments indicate that this has been a good source of publicity for societies in the local press and to interest others in volunteering -​‘Trails have helped to raise awareness of the Society locally and small exhibits of activity to Society members have enabled then to become aware of the Society’s involvement.’

DECISIONS OF THE TRUSTEE BOARD • Further develop the online map​of the location of all completed Arts Society Trails to be accessed through our online platforms • Greater publicity to include the promotion of all Trails • Promote the Trails more locally • Encourage Societies or Areas with websites to show examples of the local Trails, and a map of their location • Collaboration with the other volunteering arms -​24.24% of Trails of Discovery volunteers questioned also engaged with Heritage Volunteering and comments also demonstrated an overlap of Trails of Discovery volunteers and Young Arts • Improve measurement of Trails of Discovery impact: • Consider introducing a QR code embedded on each Trail template which leads to a short online feedback form. This would allow us to collect some data on usage. • Ask local Society Representatives to call in to the venue during the year following the Trail’s launch and check the number of sheets held - any reprints of the original 50 indicating a greater take-up of the Trail.



METHODOLOGY & PROCESSES Using the NCVO Volunteering Impact Assessment Toolkit (2015) as an initial starting point a timetable was developed focusing on four key steps - planning (early Spring 2019), implementing (Summer 2019), assessing (Autumn 2019), and reviewing (Winter 2019). January to April 2019 focused on writing questions and developing the tools needed for carrying out this Review. After assessing successful case studies it was decided impact would be measured via a combination of methods to gain as much qualitative and quantitative data as possible including questionnaires, interviews with host organisations and focus groups to assess as many volunteers and beneficiaries opinions as possible. The Review would also maximise internal data resources already available including Heritage Volunteers Completion Forms and Young Arts Project Reports, analytic data from Volunteering Microsites and general email feedback and enquiries. Meetings with Host Organisations were held to gain a greater understanding of the current need for our volunteers. After sharing external data these meetings proved mutually beneficial in updating perceptions on what is needed to make an impact today. Questionnaires were structured using NCVO templates and tailored to the seven different questionnaire groups: Heritage Volunteers (Members and Supporter Members) Young Arts Volunteers, Trails of Discovery Volunteers, Church Recorder Volunteers (Members and Supporter Members), Society Chairmen, Host Organisations and Prospective Host Organisations. These were developed to measure the capital impact of volunteering, with a particular focus on human and economic capital (see glossary). Though the benefits of Mailchimp are high - complying with GDPR, replicating campaigns and the ability to monitor campaign interactions - issues arose with campaigns being directed into promotions and spam folders by certain email clients. Questionnaires were resent to anyone who requested it and technical assistance was given, (The Church Recorder Questionnaire was also made available through a link on the microsite). A separate questionnaire was available that could be emailed out to friends and family of volunteers who did not have computer access as stated in the body of the Mailchimp.



• • • • •

Church Recorder: 40% response rate Heritage Volunteer: 145% response rate (as a result of forwarding option) Society Chairman: 48% response rate Young Arts Questionnaire: 51% response rate Trails of Discovery: 80% response rate

The Host Organisation questionnaire was initially sent out to approximately 317 organisations. These were chosen due to the date of project completion and how they work/have worked with our different volunteering arms. The first campaign was sent on 8th May to 51 recipients and received only 25.6% opens and 10% clicks. The second campaign sent on the 22nd May to 191 recipients received only 22.9% opens and 4.5% clicks. These low figures can be attributed to incorrect or out of date email addresses stored on our database (all automatic responses with a new forwarding address were re-sent). The busy workloads of organisations should also be taken into account when looking at the initially low results. In May the questionnaire was shortened to make it easier to complete and links were resent manually to Host Organisations preceded by a more personal email or phone conversation which included more detail on the projects. This resulted in a 100% completion rate and approximately 8 minutes to complete. Organisations who have replied have been very diverse (botanical garden, schools, country houses and archives). Focus groups were held for Trails of Discovery in Taunton (17/10/19), Heritage volunteers in Nottingham (18/10/19) and Church Recorders in London (25/11/19). These involved small groups of 7-8 volunteers chosen due to recommendations and geographical proximity alongside consultant Jo Marsh who facilitated discussions and produced a report of the findings. A NCVO template for focus groups was initially used and then further developed. These morning sessions (kept short to preserve focus) produced additional ideas with a positive focus on the future of volunteering. The Heritage and Trails focus groups were held off-site and all three sessions were without a staff member present to avoid bias and allow a productive space where ideas could be shared freely. Like the qualitative data produced from the questionnaires this data can be assessed by drawing on key and recurring themes.


Profile for theartssociety

Volunteering Impact Report 2020  

This Report reviews the impact our volunteers make on cultural life across the UK and abroad as The Arts Society looks to focus on the proje...

Volunteering Impact Report 2020  

This Report reviews the impact our volunteers make on cultural life across the UK and abroad as The Arts Society looks to focus on the proje...