HVG Conference 2023

Conference #HeritageVolunteering23 took place online on Tuesday 21 November and Wednesday 22 November from 09.30 – 13.30.

At the Heritage Volunteering Group we believe in the power of volunteering to transform organisations, lives, and communities. To do that we must ensure, as those working with volunteers, that our volunteer programmes are open and inclusive spaces where people from all backgrounds and communities are able to connect and make a difference. The first step in doing this is to ask one simple question: Is Volunteering for Everyone?

Over the course of the two days, we aimed to help you answer this question through a series of thought provoking and interactive presentations, workshops, plenary session and panel discussion. We hope you enjoyed the conference and left feeling empowered to transform volunteering at your organisation.

If you haven’t provided your feedback for conference please do so here.  Please take a few minutes to complete so we know what we need to consider for this year’s conference.

The conference was opened with Chris Wade, Managing Director, Time for Impact providing our keynote speech.  The rest of the conference featured a combination of workshops, plenary session, panel discussion and the award for this year’s Volunteer Leader of the Year – Sam Clift, Volunteer Resource Manager, London Transport Museum.

A copy of the full programme can be found here. Copies of the slides and videos of the welcome, keynotes, workshops, plenary session, volunteer leader of the year and panel discussion can be found below.

Day 1 – Tuesday 21 November 2023


Welcome: from the Heritage Volunteering Group, Matthew Hick, Chair of HVG, Head of Volunteering, Science Museum. Link to video can be found here.

Keynote speech: Chris Wade, Managing Director, Time for Impact

Opportunities to involve supporters and local people in the work of community organisations, charities and local heritage sites are plentiful. There really is no shortage of people who want to help out good causes or contribute in their community. The challenge for us, and our organisations, is to know how to enable people to participate in a way that suits them. To put it simply, people often don’t know how to get involved in your organisation.

In this thought provoking keynote, Chris asks if volunteering really is for everyone and unpick how we can create volunteer opportunities that are more accessible. Link to video can be found here.


Unlocking the future of virtual volunteering 
With Dr. Geoff Belknap & Dr. Alex Fitzpatrick, National Museum of Scotland

Uncover the groundbreaking findings from the AHRC-funded, virtual volunteering Communities & Crowds project. This project reimagines volunteer-led engagement with collections, merging in-person curation with digital volunteering on Zooniverse. Listen to Geoff, Alex and the volunteers during a dynamic panel discussion on the project’s innovative strategies and the future of virtual volunteering. Link to Video can be found here.

Volunteer engagement: a duty of caring
With Tamsin Russell, Museums Association

In this insightful workshop you’ll embark on a thought-provoking journey into the importance of self-care through the lens of volunteer engagement. During the session, Tamsin reframed research and recommendations about workforce wellbeing for those working in our profession, emphasising the importance of wellbeing in volunteer management. You’ll leave equipped with actionable insights to enhance your volunteer engagement practices and prioritise the welfare of both volunteers and yourself.  Slides can be found here.  Link to Video can be found here.

Breaking barriers to volunteering: partnering for inclusion
With Helen Russell & Anthony Gonzalez, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Helen and Anthony provide a dynamic workshop on partnership-driven strategies to overcome barriers to volunteering.

Anthony spotlights the Volunteer Here initiative run by Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues, which united ten partner organisations. Helen sheds light on Tyne & Wear Museums efforts to create inclusive volunteer roles, advocate for disability access and foster meaningful collaboration. Slides can be found here.  Link to Video can be found here.

Change, what change? volunteering in the wake of the pandemic
With Dr. Bruce Davenport, Newcastle University

Dissect the challenges of post-pandemic volunteering in this engaging workshop with Dr. Bruce Davenport from Newcastle University. Following a presentation it explores the declining rates in volunteering, through group discussions about personal experience of these changes, their causes and the impact responses are having. So, listen to Bruce to unravel the puzzle of post-pandemic volunteering with contributions to our collective understanding of the changes. Slides can be found here.  Link to Video can be found here

Plenary Session: 

Trans-inclusive Culture
With Professor Richard Sandell, Professor Suzanne MacLeod, Co-directors RCMG, University of Leicester and E-J Scott, Curator, Museum of Transology

This session introduces the guidance on advancing trans-inclusion for museums, galleries, archives and heritage organisations, developed by the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG), that was launched in September with the support of more than 20 leading sector support and membership bodies, including the Heritage Volunteering Group

E-J, Suzanne and Richard explain how they brought together leading edge thinking, research and practice around inclusion, ethics and the law to generate practical, ethically-informed solutions and strategies to advance trans-inclusion in our organisations and in our everyday practice.  Link to Video can be found here

Day 2 – Wednesday 22 November 2023


Student engagement: A blueprint for success
With Connie Basnett, University of West London

Discover the keys to student engagement in this workshop with Connie Basnett, from the University of West London. Blending presentation and interactive discussions, you’ll learn how to harness the power of inclusivity to foster meaningful participation and uncover strategies for reaching diverse student audiences, through things like micro-volunteering and well-defined role descriptions. Link to Video can be found here.

Making an impact: introducing social return on investment
With Pippa Vidal Davies, Derby Museums

Pippa Vidal Davies, from Derby Museums, provides a compelling workshop on Social Return on Investment (SROI). Drawing on her experience from the Museum of Making‘s capital project, Pippa offers valuable insights into the WHY, HOW, WHAT, and SO WHAT, of SROI reports. Participants will engage in practical SROI methodology demonstrations, ensuring a dynamic and informative session. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about reporting on impact from an experienced industry leader. Slides can be found here.  Link to Video can be found here.

Bridging cultures: Lessons from Alice celebrates EID
With Nuha Abdo, MultakaOxford – History of Science, Museum (University of Oxford)

Nuha provides an insightful workshop exploring cross-cultural volunteering and community unity through the lens of Alice Celebrates Eid, a MultakaOxford project. This volunteer-led activity bridges cultures and histories, bringing communities together in joyous festivities. Discover how the power of partnerships, training and co-creation can help you create impactful projects and foster mutual benefit for all involved. Slides can be found here.  Link to Video can be found here.

Transforming volunteer diversity: a vision-driven approach
With Andrew Chater, Richmond Arts Service and Orleans House Gallery

Discover how Richmond Arts Service and Orleans House Gallery used their new vision to drive change and create an innovative approach to diversifying their volunteer programme. In this engaging workshop, Andrew will share his experiences and give you the chance to work together to analyse how your organisation can foster greater volunteering diversity and move towards a more inclusive volunteer community. Slides can be found here.  Link to Video can be found here.

Volunteer Leader of the Year: presented by, Amanda Hanton, Volunteering and Participation Team Manager, Leicestershire County Council and HVG Advisory Group.

Now in its sixth year, our Volunteer Leader of the Year Award celebrates the achievements of those who have made a difference to volunteering in our sector, recognising innovative and outstanding examples of volunteer leadership and management.

This year we received a number of incredibly strong nominations from across the heritage sector. Each and every one demonstrated an innovative, collaborative and passionate approach to volunteer engagement. Sam Clift, Volunteer Resource Manager, London Transport Museum was announced as the winner of this year’s award at our conference on the second day.  Link to Video can be found here.

Panel Discussion: 

Virtual Volunteering: It’s role in creating inclusive programmes

  • Rhiannon Green, Volunteer Manager, ZSL (Host)
  • Catrin Podgorski, Project and Volunteer Manager – Heritage Access 2022, VocalEyes
  • Ben Marsh, Programme Development Manager – Volunteering, Barnsley Museums
  • Geoff Belknap, Keeper for the Dept. of Science and Technology, National Museum of Scotland
  • Alex Fitzpatrick, Research Fellow, National Museum of Scotland

In this engaging panel discussion, we delved into the transformative potential of virtual volunteering and the pivotal role it can play in creating more inclusive volunteer programs. Our panel of experts will share insights on leveraging digital tools for effective remote volunteering, ensuring accessibility for all, and addressing challenges like skill disparities and engagement. They will also explore strategies to attract a diverse pool of virtual volunteers and build bridges across cultures and backgrounds, fostering a more inclusive volunteer community. Join us to discover the boundless potential of virtual volunteering.  Link to Video can be found here.