It’s true to say that without the many volunteers who give their time to the BCI globally we would not be where we are now; it is the efforts of volunteers that have fuelled the engine of our growth since our formation over twenty years ago.
Whatever stats show on the economic value of volunteers, it would be wrong to imply that the primary reason to use volunteers is to reduce the cost of paid staff. This organization is owned by its members and relies on the work they carry out across so many of our activities. Indeed it’s true to say that the paid staff of the Institute are here to help those members who volunteer their time and their skills and not the other way around. No measurement of economic value takes into consideration the knowledge and experience these volunteers bring with them.
Volunteers enable us to engage a more diverse range of people across the resilience community, and make the most of their expertise. As an organization headquartered in the UK but operating within a global environment, it is important that we are inclusive to ideas, local knowledge and cultural insight from all quarters, and volunteers support us in this. With members in over 100 countries and a Central Office of only 25 employees, even though they do represent several nationalities, it would be extremely difficult for the BCI to have the impact it does in many of these countries without volunteers from within our membership community playing a major part.
With over 70 community groups worldwide, there are hundreds of business continuity and resilience professionals offering up their own time to help enhance the reputation of the Institute, and the industry as a whole. These volunteers help promote the highest standards of both professional and technical competency, and facilitate networking opportunities to enable business continuity professionals to come together and share good practice, exchange ideas and build valuable relationships. Volunteers also act as our ambassadors, helping to support the regional growth of the BCI by extending our reach.
Volunteers help inform the development and delivery of our activities and services by bringing in fresh opinions, ideas and approaches, as well as subject matter expertise. This helps us to make sure we are relevant to the industry and those who work in it. Take our Good Practice Guidelines for example; these are currently being reviewed in order to launch a revised edition at the BCI World Conference in November, and this review has largely been carried out by volunteers, about 60 of them from across the world, each ensuring that global good practice is just that – global!
Of course, volunteering doesn’t just offer a benefit to the BCI, we’d like to think it provides value to the volunteer as well. There are many reasons why people choose to offer their time to support the BCI. For some it is simple altruism and the enjoyment of giving back to their community. For others it is the networking opportunities that volunteering brings. For many it is the chance to develop new skills, perhaps even to be able to include it on their CV. On top of that, from a well-being point of view, studies have shown that volunteering can lead to enhanced self-esteem, reduced stress and improved health.
We, as an Institute, are heavily reliant on the work carried by our incredible volunteers, and this is reflected in the responsibilities they are given. However, as an organization, we have a responsibility toward them too. A responsibility to invest in volunteering and ensure they are getting as much support from us as they need. I’m always open to ideas, so if you have any suggestions on what we can do to better support you then please do get in touch.
In the UK, we have just started Volunteers’ Week, a week-long celebration of all that volunteers do for the benefit of others. The theme of the week is ‘you make the difference’ and that is certainly the case with the BCI. We are extremely grateful for all our volunteers, and owe them a debt of thanks for everything they do to support the aims of the BCI.
Executive Director of the Business Continuity Institute.