About the Plan

“This living plan is our map to a brighter future for volunteering in Scotland. There is a long road ahead. We invite you to join us on the journey.”

Alan Stevenson, CEO Volunteer Scotland


Volunteers have a key role in the delivery of many services to Scotland’s population at all life-stages, as well as supporting community connection and conserving Scotland’s natural, historical, and cultural assets.

Many voluntary and public sector organisations are reliant on the contribution of volunteers to support their work, whilst the vibrancy of local communities is dependent upon individuals volunteering informally. This spectrum of volunteers is the heartbeat of Scotland.

However, the vital role of volunteering is often taken for granted and is consequently underrepresented at a strategic level. More work is needed, especially around partnership development and policy impact, if we are to maximise its potential and ensure it is inclusive for all.

The Volunteering Action Plan acknowledges the cross-cutting value of volunteering. It builds upon Volunteering for All: The National Framework and is mapped to Scotland’s National Outcomes as demonstrated in the diagram.

The Volunteering Action Plan provides a renewed focus on the contribution of volunteers in communities and seeks to tackle inequality in volunteering through supporting the most disadvantaged in our society.

Cross-cutting Themes

Policy Impact

While the profile of volunteering has increased significantly in the last decade, it continues to be significantly under-represented within public policy. This is a barrier to policy-maker engagement. By developing an infrastructure for the impact of volunteering to be shared across all relevant policy areas, partners and decision-makers can ensure that volunteering is properly valued and reflected across public policy.

Funding for Success

To unlock the aspirations of Volunteering for All, we must ensure that volunteering is appropriately funded. Volunteering is largely ‘invisible’ as a discrete funding opportunity; it is often viewed as a ‘side-benefit’ of a larger project instead of having strategic value in and of itself. To ‘fund for success’ we must involve ‘funders’ as co-creators within solutions, through a consortium or similar structure. We must look to increase ‘visibility’ of volunteering through tighter standards within third sector funding and increase sector engagement around impact measurement. Finally, we must be bold in our ambition for new ways of working, funded through ‘experimental’ actions with long-term impact.

Enabling Environment

An Enabling Environment is our foundation for future action. It improves our ability to work effectively and collectively on the key challenges facing volunteering over 10 years.

Ideas into Action

Volunteering happens through the relationships between people, organisations, and places & spaces.

Five Working Groups created a single high-level system map to inform ‘ideas for change’ and provide the basis for more detailed actions.

Action themes identified include:

Contributors and Supporters

The ‘Plan’ is co-owned and we’d like to thank individuals from stakeholder organisations, many of whom gave up their time over more than a year.

Governance Group

Chair: Natalie Masterson, CEO, Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise 

Working Group 1: Lifelong Engagement

Chair: Tricia Imrie, Impact Funding Partners

Working Group 2: Policy Impact

Chair: Selina Ross, West Dunbartonshire CVS (TSI)

Working Group 3: Recognition and Celebration

Chair: Tamsin Ferrier, Volunteering Matters

Working Group 4: Places and Spaces

Chair: Mandy Andrew, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland

Working Group 5: Inclusive Volunteering

Chair: Janice Malone, NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Working Group Members

Management Team

A management team with Volunteer Scotland driving the work and Scottish Government facilitating and supporting was established to support this process.

Support Team

The following team members of Volunteer Scotland provided support relating to evidence, supporting working groups, document content and design, and website design.