Volunteers – who benefits?

Happy Museum Development Day

4 February 2014


Ruth Clarke event programmer

Event details

  • Date: 4 February 2014
  • Location: Bilston Craft Gallery
  • Who: Happy Museum community of practice and those involved in Volunteer Management I the wider sector
  • Time: 10.30 – 4pm

No of attendees: 32 including facilitators


  • Hillary Jennings – Happy Museum
  • Ruth Clarke – Happy Museum
  • Andy Gawin Warby – Envoy Partnerships
  • Jason Griffiths – Wolverhampton Voluntary Service Association
  • Bilston Craft Gallery / WAVE – Jack Shuttleworth and Sonya


The day offered participating museums the opportunity to work together and individually to look at and develop their knowledge, skills and understanding of:

  • current volunteering policy and good practice
  • motivations for volunteering , roles and potential roles and inclusion
  • institutional values and the development of volunteering
  • volunteering costs and benefits

At the end of the day the aim was for participants to have:

  • have reflected on their individual organisation and analysed the volunteering practice in relation to the: benefits, organisational values and development and the costs
  • be equipped with examples of good practice and guidelines on volunteering legislation
  • have worked with peers to identify challenges, share practice and find  potential solutions
  • have investigated volunteering through the lens of the Happy Museum principles

Expectations from the day ~ participants

Participant’s feedback to this question fell into the two following areas:

  • meet peers, network and share experiences and expertise
  • learn about good practice and as such be better equipped to support volunteers

When asked which of the Happy Museum Principles they felt was most in accordance with their volunteer work overwhelmingly they felt that the generation of wellbeing and promotion of mutually beneficial relationships were key.

Feedback after the event ~ participants

Approach: participants were asked respond to questions via email after the event as:

  • there was not enough time in the session to do this
  • the session had been very full and there was a sense that people needed time to absorb the content.

Ten participants responded.


  • To find out if people were happy with the event overall and found it worth their while attending they were asked ‘Did the event meet your expectations?’ and to comment on this; all answered yes. The comments were limited but indicated that the networking opportunities had been key to this.
  • To find out if elements of the day could have been improved or developed the question was asked ‘Was there anything about the day that was unhelpful?’ All answered no and there were several comments to accompany this these were:
    • how much they had enjoyed the event as ‘mind stretching learning event’
    • that it had been helpful but there was some confusion re the impact mapping task
    • whether the session on volunteering practice was needed given the level of expertise in the room.
  • The question ‘How do you feel you / your organisation will benefit as a result of the day?’ was asked to explore the relevance of the material covered, this elicited a range of responses that fell into the following areas:
    • application of learning from peers re the their experiences/ expertise
    • application of impact mapping to help support volunteers and organisational development
    • potential for non-commission museums to apply the Happy Museum principles.
  • The ‘sticky’ aspects of the day (in the short term) were revealed through the question ‘What are the top three things you remember about the content of the day?’ The most popular answers were (all roughly equally ranked):
    • networking
    • volunteering good practice and ethics activities
    • impact mapping
    • visiting Bilston Craft Gallery
    • fruit Bowl activity
  • In looking to see what  may have been missing from the day and what future opportunities there were for volunteering development activities (from the Happy Museum) the following question was asked ‘If the Happy Museum were to facilitate another event on volunteering what would you like to see included in the programme?’ Responses fell into the following categories:
    • increase the volunteer voice
    • explore the current climate further re volunteering i.e. what is motivating people and how the sector is responding to this
    • use the different levels of experience in room further to share practice / extend opportunities for case studies
  • Finally participants were asked to comment on each of the Happy Museum principles in relation to their work with volunteers to help expand understanding of the ranking they gave to The Principles (re their relevance to volunteering) at the beginning of the event. Most people made a general comment in response which supported the relevance of the principles to their work and again most comments were made under the first two principles: wellbeing and mutually beneficial relationships with a scattering of comments being made under the others.