Volunteering at the Royal Statistical Society
As a volunteer member led organisation, the RSS welcomes and values the huge contribution made by our volunteer members.
Volunteering is a great way for members to support the work of the Society and help it achieve our strategic objectives:
- Statistics and the public interest. For statistics to be used effectively in the public interest, so that policy formulation and decision-making are informed by evidence of the good of society.
- Education and statistical literacy. For society to be more statistically literate, so that people’s understanding of data, risk and probability can inform their daily decision-making, leading to better outcomes.
- Developing the profession. For a strong body of professional statisticians to maintain and develop the skills they need so that they can critically apply methodology, interpret results and communicate findings.
- Strengthening the discipline. For statistics as a discipline to thrive, so that methodology is advanced, applied and made accessible, leading to greater understanding of an increasingly complex world.
- Engaging the membership, staff and partners. For an engaged and energised membership and staff to work collaboratively with partner organisations and other stakeholders in meeting these goals, so that the Society can maximise its impact.
- Being a well-run organisation. For the RSS to be a financially sustainable and well-run organisation, with effective governance and use of technology so that it will grow in relevance and exert influence.
It offers an excellent opportunity to contribute to our activities whilst making the most of your membership. Whether it is joining a section or local group, influencing policy, promoting statistics or sitting on a governance committee, there are a range of opportunities for members looking to get involved.
Other reasons for becoming an RSS volunteer:
- volunteering connects you to other members with similar interests
- volunteering enables you to contribute to specific RSS strategic goals
- volunteering can help you develop new skills and advance your career
- volunteering can be a fun and fulfilling experience
What can you expect as an RSS volunteer?
As a volunteer, we realise that your time is important and that you could easily be doing something else. It’s good to be clear about both the organisation’s and your own expectations.
For some roles, there are descriptions of what is required: potential volunteers are also encouraged to talk to members who have undertaken the role in the past and who will be able to give an overview of both the duties and time commitment involved.
We also provide inductions for some roles, either in person or by recorded webinars/ notes. Where there are legal requirements, such as for trustee roles, we provide the relevant documentation and guidance.
RSS volunteer members are supported by a team of professional office-based staff. who will assist you with guidance on your volunteer activities. You will also be given access to policies and guidelines around your area of volunteering, which may seem overwhelming at first sight. We have developed these over the years so that both volunteers and staff are aware of all the requirements to ensure the smooth running of RSS activities. For example, we have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for our Sections and Local Groups: this describes the responsibilities of both the volunteer group and RSS staff so there is clarity about who does what and the timelines involved.
- policies and procedures relevant to volunteers and the role the volunteer is undertaking, eg equal opportunities, health and safety, and confidentiality
- meet mutually agreed expectations around the role, such as the amount of time the role is expected to take.
Recognising the work carried out by RSS volunteers
Throughout the year we have a 100s of volunteers giving their valuable time to help the RSS achieve its aims and objectives: we could not do this work without them so we would like to thank everyone for their contribution. It’s not practical or possible for us to feature every single person but we run articles in our member updates or focus on members in our web pages and news bulletins. The work of RSS volunteers makes a difference to all areas of the Society’s work in achieving our key objectives.
The RSS appreciates the contribution made by our volunteers and does not wish anyone to be out of pocket on our behalf. We do however have to work within a budget, and therefore there is a policy with guidelines which should be used when incurring expenses.
The RSS works within the HMRC guidelines in terms of meeting expenses for volunteers carrying out their duties: volunteers should not receive any payment, reward or benefit in kind which could suggest that they are being paid for the services they render – this includes even modest amounts or free attendance at events where there is an attendance fee (generally RSS members are entitled to reductions at such meetings). We are able to reimburse ‘reasonable expenses’ such as:
- travel undertaken in the course of volunteering
- food and drink consumed whilst volunteering (although these are often provided by the RSS
- sundries, eg postage or printing
All claims must be submitted on the official form and sent to the relevant staff member. All claims must be supported by receipts. All expense claims will be reimbursed by Bank transfer.
The overall spirit of the policy is based on providing value for money. If there are instances where the way that provides best value for money contravenes the letter of this policy, the course of action should be agreed in advance with the relevant staff member in writing, and this should be attached to the expense claim when submitted. Read more about expense policy and download the expense claims form
How long can I volunteer for?
Many of our members have been volunteering for the Society for many years in different roles or taking on a wide range of responsibilities and activities. We do have time limits on some roles, such as length of service for trustee or committee roles. This is generally best practice so that we don’t overburden volunteers and we can also ensure a turnover of ideas and experience to enrich Society and reflect the diversity of its membership.
Some volunteers feel that it is beneficial to them as individuals to vary the roles they play and have gained value from these additional experiences. We also endeavour to make the most of the skill sets volunteers have to offer and frequently have ‘call outs’ to members with specific experience via our media channels.
What happens if my circumstances change?
Volunteers take on roles with the best intentions of fulfilling their responsibilities. However, life can take unexpected turns and we understand that illness, family or work commitments may mean that you may not be able to fulfil your volunteering duties on any given day or over an extended time period. If your circumstances change and you feel unable to continue your volunteering activities, do let us know so we can either support you, arrange for cover or find another volunteer to take over your role.
Confidentiality, Copyright and Insurance
Confidentiality - The RSS regards volunteers’ personal data as confidential. Volunteers are expected to treat any information relating to the RSS, its membership and operations, to which they may have access as confidential.
Copyright - Volunteers must not download, copy or transmit to third parties the work of others without permission, as this may infringe copyright.
Insurance - Volunteers carrying out their assigned tasks within the RSS premises are covered by the Society’s Employers’ Liability insurance.
Activity and Event Conduct Policy
As a professional society and membership body, the RSS is committed to providing an atmosphere that encourages the free expression and exchange of ideas. Consistent with this commitment, it is the policy of the RSS that all participants in RSS activities and events should enjoy a welcoming, courteous and respectful environment, free from discrimination, harassment, confrontation or retaliation. Read full details of the policy.
Diversity and Inclusion
The RSS Diversity and Inclusion policy ensures that the recruitment and treatment of its volunteers is carried out without prejudice regarding sex, marital status, race, nationality, ethnic origin, age, class, sexual orientation, colour, disability or any other grounds which cannot be justified, thus making opportunities as accessible as possible.
Volunteers/interns involved in contact with the public must have an awareness of the above issues. Read full details of the policy.
Disputes and complaints
We hope and intend that all periods of volunteering will be happy and rewarding to all parties, occasionally, however, things go wrong. Any problems that may arise on either side should be resolved through informal discussion. If the issues prove to be irreconcilable, either side has the option to terminate the arrangement with immediate effect.