Accreditation is the formal recognition of the achievements of an individual, linked up to some internal or external standard. In other words, it is a process of confirming that someone's performance conforms to standards that are agreed or approved. For some volunteers getting formal recognition of their performance is important.
The accreditation process may be widened to include the provision of references which will be helpful for people seeking employment.
External and internal volunteer accreditation
Not all organisations will be in a position to offer externally accredited opportunities. Advice and support may be available through national, regional and local infrastructure organisations e.g. Volunteering England, Learning and Skills Consortia, Volunteer Centres, Volunteer Scotland, Volunteer Now, Wales Council for Voluntary Action etc.
Most of these courses will be linked to National Occupational Standards. Information and standards developed specifically for managers of volunteers are available from Skills Effect.
How to recognise and reward volunteer's learning
Volunteers appreciate getting a certificate that recognises their attendance on training and their ability to learn new skills. For some volunteers it is important that achievements are recognised formally and by external awarding bodies. Depending on the reasons for volunteering, a certificate from the organisation or the training provider is enough.
Many organisations recognise training by awarding inhouse certificates and saying thank you!
Read our guide on how to thank volunteers.
Some volunteer organisations have established highly regarded in house training for their volunteers e.g. Citizens advice, SSAFA. Both organisatons have their training accredited through the Open College Network. The Red Cross offers certificates in retail skills and encourages young volunteers to develop these skills while making a difference in their communities.
Volunteers' Week is the UK's annual celebration of volunteers and volunteering. During the week events are held across the country to recognise, reward and recruit volunteers.
Who pays for volunteer training?
This can vary depending on the organisation, the opportunities they are providing and what potential volunteers are seeking. Worldwide Helpers is a non profit internet portal connecting those who want to volunteer to only low/no cost projects worldwide.
Girlguiding UK charge their volunteer leaders for the cost of attending some weekend training courses and offer training grants to support them to take up these opportunities. Other organisations may require volunteers to pay for their training and run a waiting list for people who want to join them. A question of supply and demand perhaps?