Skills reading list

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Skills reading list

This list of resources gathers together all the texts, publications, articles and research papers on third sector skills.

It can be used by anyone who needs to know more about the skills needs and development in charities, social enterprises and other not for profit organisations. We want this to be a living document that is regularly updated. To add a text to this list please email Kelly Ventress.

A Framework Towards IT Appropriation in Voluntary Organisations

This paper analyses the types and organisational structures of voluntary organisations to find out the factors that differentiate the IT support in these organisations as compared to other organisations. The authors advocate the need for more ethnographic work to closely examine the work practices of voluntary organisations and the requirements of the varied operations, and how IT may add value to them.

A Race to the Bottom? Exploring Variations in Employment Conditions in the Voluntary Sector

This article presents the findings of a study to explore state-voluntary sector inter-organisational relationships. Cunningham argues that different organisations are differently placed to be able to resist the pressures on employment conditions. Uses qualitative interviews with staff in personnel and managers responsible for personnel issues to examine the impact of state-voluntary sector relationships on employment in 24 voluntary organisations in Scotland. All the organisations reported increasing pressure to reduce costs which in turn created intensification of work and pressure to routinise work and reduce skills. However, organisations were not homogenous in their responses to these pressures. Some types of organisations were better able to resist the pressures. Cunningham classifies the organisational responses into 3 types ‘on the inside track’, ‘holding their own’ and ‘struggling to care’ the last of which was the category most vulnerable to the efforts of external bodies to reduce costs through dilution of skills, work intensification and pressure on pay and conditions.

An exclusive construct? Exploring different cultural concepts of volunteering

This article explores the implications of the dominant Western construct of volunteering. It argues that there is a need to recognise the diversity of actions often hidden within that construct. The overuse of a single term can serve to marginalise many activities, especially informal, that take place at community level. The second half of the article examines how transferable this Western construct is. Rather than imploring the term ‘volunteering’ academics and practitioners should work with communities to develop bottom-up interpretations of culturally specific civil life.

Benchmarking Voluntary and Community Sector Involvement with the Learning and Skills Council 2005

Trough an online survey, the report examines the level and nature of VCO involvement and benefits to LLSCs.

Burnout Amoung Volunteers in the Social Services: The Impact of Gender and Employment Status

Based on a study of 375 volunteers in Israel, found that employment status (whether high school students, employed persons, retirees or unemployed) had more significance for experiences of ‘burnout’ than did gender. Kulik did find evidence of some gender differences. In particular men were more likely to experience burnout as a result of difficulties in relationships with the beneficiaries whilst women were more likely to experience burnout as a result of difficulties in relationships with the organisation. Most vulnerable to burnout were female students and unemployed men.

Charity E-volution? An evaluation of the attitudes of UK charities towards website adoption and use

The paper shows that while most charities have launched websites, the majority of them are using their Internet presence for information and general publicity purposes and not for acquiring new supporters, fund raising or interacting with clients.

Differentiating Literacy Volunteers: A Segmentation Analysis for Target Marketing

Criticises much of the existing research into the voluntary sector for being either too broad or two narrow and response to calls for a more robust methodology by utilising a segmentation analysis. Uses literacy volunteers to examine a method to determine whether sub groups really can be differentiated and to explore the variables that would be appropriate for this. Wymer concluded that literacy volunteers could be distinguished. However, some personality variables that had been expected to be the most important (empathy and self esteem) did not prove significant. Demographic variables of gender, income, age, volunteering intensity and employment were all significant in differentiating literacy volunteers.

From Paid Worker to Volunteer: Leaving the Paid Workforce and Volunteering in Later Life

Uses the American’s Changing Lives Survey to examine the association between employment status (full-time, part-time, or not in paid employment) and volunteering activity. Suggests that there is evidence that being involved in full time employment is negatively associated with volunteering activity.

Line Managers and Workplace Learning: Learning from the Voluntary Sector

Reports research from observation and 60 interviews in two case study voluntary organisations in the social care sector. The research aimed to examine what senior and first line managers actually do in their roles of facilitators of learning amongst their staff. Concludes that managers are critical in facilitating (or inhibiting) learning. Learning climates can be successfully created by building on the person-centred values of social care and by enabling employees to engage in guided reflection whilst integrating workplace learning with other HRM processes.

Managing Employee Commitment in the Not for Profit Sector

This paper examines HRM in a major charity that provides services to adults with learning disabilities. It finds that the intrinsic commitment to the job held by employees can form a competing commitment towards different entities of the organisation which may be difficult to reconcile to organisational objectives and existing power structures and group dynamics. The results have implications for the management of employee commitment in other service sectors.

New Technologies, Embedded Values and Strategic Change: Evidence from the UK Voluntary Sector

This paper together with two others (Burt and Taylor, 2000 and 2001) utilise two case studies – namely Friends of the Earth and the Samaritans – to examine the extent to which voluntary organisations are changing the involvement practice, implementing new deployment of professional staff and volunteers for performance enhancement and the possibilities of IT help deepening voluntary organisations’ own values.

Of Market Failure, Voluntary Failure and Third-party Government: Towards a Theory of Government-nonp

As the government in the United States relies more heavily on nonprofit organisations than on its own official departments to deliver government-funded human services, this paper theorises the emergence of the so-called ‘Third-party Government’ – an arrangement that is very similar to the UK Compact which defines the working relationship between the state and voluntary and nonprofit bodies.

Public Services and the Future of the UK Voluntary Sector

The author takes the view that one of the most important issues for the UK third sector is the partnership with the government as many cross-cutting units or programmes initiated by the government look to the third sector as the key partner to delivering the desirable outcomes. There is clearly the need for the third sector to have the skills to manage a successful relationship while retaining independence.

The Development of Strategic Management in the Non-profit Context: Intellectual Capital in Social Se

The paper examines the use of strategic management including the use of SWOT analysis, core competency, balanced scorecard and ‘intellectual capital’ (IC) in the context of non-profit organisations. The paper argues that in an era of reforming the public sector, there is a need to establish a ‘competent strategic management framework’. And as such, IC is a more effective tool than other management techniques in the non-profit environment.

A Job to Believe in: Recruitment in the Scottish Voluntary Sector

Based on interviews with 137 managers and employees in 7 voluntary organisations offering social care in Scotland this article examines issues surrounding recruitment in the voluntary sector in Scotland. They examine managers perceptions of recruitment, employees experiences and the perceptions of the sector held by potential employees. They conclude that finding appropriate labour is a key difficulty (rather than attracting applicants). They also suggest that employees within the sector seem to be highly motivated and committed and experience high levels of job satisfaction. There are extensive misconceptions of the sector from those outside it and the article argues this further exacerbates recruitment problems.

Adaptive Capability in Israeli Social Change Nonprofits

The authors develop a theoretical framework for assessing a nonprofit’s organisational readiness to improve its adaptive capacity. This is then applied to 10 emerging social change nonprofits in Israel. The results demonstrate the usefulness of the adaptive capacity conceptual framework while providing insight into the day-to-day realities of organisational life that help to shape the adaptive capacity of the 10 nonprofits in the sample.

Assessing Volunteer Motives: A Comparison of an Open-ended Probe and Likert Rating Scales

Combines the use of a Likert scale survey and an open-ended probe within the same survey to assess volunteer motivation. The authors were seeking to examine whether the different methods would identify the same motivations and ranking of motivations and to assess which method provides better prediction of the frequency of, and related to this commitment to, volunteering. The sample is drawn from a non-profit making organisation in Phoenix, Arizona. The authors found that the value motive was most important followed by esteem and understanding. Motives around career, protective and social were not as important. Concluded that the Likert scale, the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI motive scores did have an important predictive function whilst the open-ended probe did not. Understanding motivation is argued to be important in successful recruitment of effective and committed volunteers.

Board Roles in the Strategic Management of Non-profit Organisations: Theory and Practice

Based on a study of the role of boards in organisations in the public and third sector. Concludes that there is wide variation in the contribution made by boards and that this depends on a complex interaction between regulatory systems, organisational and governance norms, recruitment practices and the skills and experiences of board members as well as aspects such as the organisations size. Institutional pressures can impinge on the strategic contribution of such boards

Change, HRM and the Voluntary Sector

This paper examines the context of the voluntary sector and its impact on organisational change processes. It looks at alternative models that could facilitate understanding of change processes in the voluntary sector. Hay et al argue that there are important HRM lessons for the wider voluntary sector, and there are some important contextual factors that have to be considered when applying the generic models of change.

Crossing the Boundaries Between 'Third Sector' and State: Life-Work Histories From the Philippines,

Presents early results from a study of individuals who have made the ‘cross-over’ between the third sector and the state. Lewis questions the value of the three sector model and suggests that whilst aspects of these borders are very real others are more artificial. Argues that political structures and policy frameworks are fundamental for how cross boundaries is experienced. At the individual level motives are varied but there is an expectation that things will be different in the new sector. Cross over brings valuable opportunities for creativity through the use of new skills, ideas and approaches in different sectoral contexts.

Expert Knowledge, Cognitive Polyphasia and Health: A Study on Social Representations of Homelessness

Used qualitative interview with homelessness professionals working in London to explore how they constructed definitions about homelessness. Found that the way in which this occurred was affected by ‘definitional clashes’ between voluntary and state sectors. Suggested that the knowledge that these workers have was necessary for a real understanding of homelessness and that this should be recognised in policy design.

Human Resource Challenges in Human Service and Community Development Organisations: Recruitment and

Surveyed small and medium sized non-profit organisations to examine the extent of difficulties in recruiting and hiring professional staff. Although there were problems recruiting this was not considered to be of crisis proportions. Particular difficulties were found in the recruitment of IT staff.

Making a Reality of Community Governance. Structuring Government-Voluntary Sector Relationships at t

Explores the issues of ‘community governance’ in the UK context and the partnerships between local government and voluntary and community organisations following the election of the Labour government in 1997. The article argues that community governance offers both opportunities and threats. The nature of the partnership between local governments and voluntary and community organisations is central to how this will work.

Mental Health Training Needs Amongst Staff of Probabtion Aprrovec Premises: A Comparison with Mental

This article is based on a survey of staff in a number of different types of organisations and uses staff in voluntary sector mental health hostels as a comparison. Identifies difference in terms of skills needed, training needed and mechanisms to meet that training. Staff within the voluntary sector showed patterns of access to training opportunities that suggested that they may have been trained and have experience useful for their work in the voluntary sector that was obtained before they commenced their current role. The voluntary sector staff were more likely to hold vocational qualifications such as NVQs and in many areas of activity were more confident that they had the necessary skills, training and experience necessary to perform their roles effectively.

Nonprofit Agency Dependence on Direct Service and Indirect Support Volunteers: An Empirical Investig

Used questionnaires and interviews to 42 voluntary agencies in the US to explore how they dealt with their varying levels of dependency on volunteers. Found that the level to which they were dependent on volunteers did not correlate to the type and extent of use of HRM practices.

Race and Gender Differences in Philanthropy: Indiana as a Test Case

Looks at the effects of race and gender on volunteering and on charitable giving. Additionally seems to explore the nature of the data obtained through eight different survey methodologies. The sample was of 885 individuals with at least 100 in each survey method. The article suggests that there may be differences between the way different ethic groups ‘heard’ and responded to question and further research with larger samples would be necessary to explore this further. they also conclude that racial differences disappear after controlling for education attainment and income suggesting that apparent differences are more a product of more limited access to resources amongst ethnic minorities rather than indicative of of more fundamental difference in attitudes towards giving and volunteering.

Sensation Seekers and Civic Participation: Exploring the Influence of Sensation Seeking and Gender o

Studied approximately 1100 extreme sports participants. Evidence suggest that sensation seekers have skills associated with leadership. This study seeks to see if they would actually like to take up leadership positions and whether sensation seeking impacts upon their volunteering behaviour. Finds that sensation seeking is not a good indicator of volunteering behaviour. Female sensation seekers reported higher levels of volunteering behaviour and were more likely to show interest in volunteering in the future. Both male and female sensation seekers showed a preference for leadership.

Turnover and Retention Among Volunteers in Human Service Agencies

Uses Herzberg’s ‘hygiene’ theory to explore how organisational factors affect volunteers’ experience and compares the experiences of active volunteers with those who have given up volunteering. Concludes that pre-service training, in service training and being given sufficiently challenging and varied tasks with opportunities for personal growth are crucial to retaining volunteers.