Innovative projects that connect volunteers to opportunities in their community will receive new support from the 'Innovation in Giving Fund', which is run by Nesta and funded by the Cabinet Office.

The projects that have been selected for funding of up to £50,000 are each run by Volunteer Centres.

The Volunteer Centre projects each aim to tackle a different social challenge facing their communities - from managing long term health conditions to creating an SMS Text group to share local volunteering opportunities. Until December, the volunteer centres will work with Nesta to further develop and implement their ideas and take projects to scale.

The Innovation in Giving Fund is one of a number of policies announced from the government's Giving Whitepaper in May 2011. It is run by Nesta, the UK's innovation foundation, and funded by the Cabinet Office. The programme aims to invest in, support and grow innovative ideas that will bring about a step-change in the giving and exchange of time, assets, skills, resources and money and which have a credible route to being self-sustaining in the longer term.

The selected projects join 67 ideas that have already been funded through the programme to date, which include social enterprises and national charities.  The selected Volunteer Centre projects are:

  • 2D - are expanding their initial pilot for supporting people with long term health conditions into a variety of volunteer roles such as Expert Patients and Health Trainers. They will be recruiting GP patients and measuring the effect this has in contributing positively to their well-being.
  • Blackburn -The Community Hive is a reverse model of business giving, in which skilled volunteers will be able to find opportunities to support young local businesses. Businesses will return the giving pledge with a supported placement for an unemployed volunteer, offer training, a donation, or loan of equipment.
  • Blackpool - are buildingan online self-service platform, "Do-a-Bit" that will enable working-age people to complete bite-sized volunteering opportunities and keep a 'Volunteer Passport' to record achievements, learning and to make it easier to move between volunteering roles. They aim to increase the number of volunteer placements that they broker from 1000 to 1,400 per year.   
  • Gateshead willwork with Gateshead Council to run community libraries with local volunteers.  The library volunteers will be trained to recruit and manage new volunteers, with satellite Volunteer Centres created to sustain the positive impact of the libraries.
  • Kirklees - will use group texting to advertise volunteering opportunities to registered users, of which there are already 1200. Volunteers will receive targeted texts with opportunities that match their expressed interests from their personal profile.
  • Leeds - working with HM Prison Leeds they will create and support an internal volunteer centre within the prison, run by prisoners. The idea is to help increase prisoners' employability skills, self-esteem and self-confidence, and at the same time reduce the chance of reoffending. Leeds Volunteer Centre will also support local organisations to develop relevant opportunities, reducing concerns about employing ex-prisoners and matching volunteers with business community mentors.
  • Lincolnshire - will work in partnership with Lincolnshire's Police and Crime Commissioner to design a new volunteer role for supporting the police. The idea will enable volunteers to have a greater impact on community safety.
  • Staffordshire - plan to develop a card that allows volunteers to access volunteer opportunities easily and instantly. Potential volunteers will register for the card online, pay a sliding scale fee and record and build up a personal giving profile.

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, commented: "Volunteer centres have always played an important part in mobilising people to volunteer. Times change and so must the sector. The Innovation Fund is an opportunity to test new ideas that can help shape and sustain their future."

Helen Goulden, director of Innovation in Giving, Nesta, said: "There are some clear opportunities to innovate in local volunteer hubs and we are delighted to be working more intensively with NCVO and a small cohort of volunteer centres to experiment and evaluate new ways of supporting them to achieve greater impact and longer term sustainability."

Justin Davis Smith, Executive Director for Volunteering and Development, NCVO, commented: "These eight projects have been selected as exemplars for how local volunteer centres, with appropriate resources and support, can create innovative responses to needs in their communities and demonstrate their key role in developing and promoting volunteering. We look forward to working with these groups over the coming year and to sharing their learning and success to help build the sustainability and impact of the whole Volunteer Centre movement."

To see all the projects being supported visit the Innovation in Giving Fund.


Notes to editor:

For media enquiries please contact Natalie Hodgson at Nesta on 020 7438 2614 or email [email protected]

About the Innovation in Giving Fund

The Innovation in Giving Fund was launched in September 2011 by Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society as part of a £34million package to increase levels of social action. It is managed by Nesta, the UK's innovation agency and aims to back innovative ideas for increasing volunteering and charitable giving. The Fund is one of a number of new policies announced in the Giving White Paper in May 2011. For further information please see:

For more information about The Cabinet Office and its work on giving please go to

About Nesta:

Nesta is the UK's innovation foundation. We help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. We do this by providing investments and grants and mobilising research, networks and skills. We are an independent charity and our work is enabled by an endowment from the National Lottery.

Nesta Operating Company is a registered charity in England and Wales with a company number 7706036 and charity number 1144091. Registered as a charity in Scotland number SC042833. Registered office: 1 Plough Place, London, EC4A 1DE

About the Volunteer Centre network:

The network of Volunteer Centres in England comprises a diverse range of large and small organisations in urban, mixed and rural areas. An increasing proportion of Volunteer Centres are services hosted by, or integrated with, larger organisations (e.g. Council for Voluntary Service). Each is distinct in its operation, although all are registered charities.   Volunteer Centres are accredited nationally by NCVO for their work in developing local volunteering. This quality standard, Volunteer Centre Quality Accreditation (VCQA), assures local communities and funders that their Volunteer Centre is providing a nationally recognised kite-mark for services in supporting volunteers and volunteering-involving organisations. There are currently 243 accredited Volunteer Centres in England.