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Introducing the voluntary sector
Introducing the voluntary sector

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1 What are values?

You will start by exploring what is meant by values and beliefs and why they matter in the context of the voluntary sector. You saw in Week 1 how the word ‘value’ is associated in different ways with the voluntary sector and, although in this week you will focus on one particular meaning, it is useful to recap on how ‘value’ has been used so far as well as introduce some new meanings. These new meanings will be explored further in future weeks of the course.

The following list covers some of the points and questions you were introduced to last week in terms of how ‘value’ has been applied to the voluntary sector.

  • Distinctive value: this relates to whether there is something special about the voluntary sector and why organisations might seek evidence to prove it. This was discussed by Macmillan as a way of demonstrating advantage over competitors.
  • Monetary value: this relates to income and funding, and assessing the financial contribution of the voluntary sector (you will find out more about this in Weeks 3 and 4).
  • Value for money: this relates to whether services provided are efficient and effective. This is usually part of contracts between voluntary organisations and other organisations.
  • Social value: this relates to the ‘added value’ of organisations beyond financial considerations, such as wider benefits to local communities or environmental concerns, and is now part of contracts with government.

There are two further aspects of value that you will find out more about this week and next week:

  • Valuing the contribution of volunteers: this can have two meanings. First, organisations appreciate the work and contribution of their volunteers. Many cannot function without the help of volunteers. The second meaning relates to putting a monetary value on the contribution of volunteers. This is often done by working out what the total cost of salaries would be if the volunteers were paid members of staff.
  • The values of staff, volunteers and organisations in the voluntary sector: What values do people and organisations hold? Can we generalise about values?