General News

Volunteering faces a decade of turbulence if charities don’t act now, says new report

Besi Besemar December 17, 2014

The New Alchemy – Part 7, published by research consultancy nfpSynergy, says volunteering is under-valued, under-prioritised and organisations could miss a huge opportunity by not responding to changes in society.

WEB.600THE REPORT, published today, says that “volunteers have too often been seen as cheap ‘service-delivery’ and a slightly unreliable resource’ to be ‘used’ for particular ends” by organisations not engaging with a changing world.

It also warns that when baby boomers, those born in the late 1940s and the 1950s, reach retirement, charities will have to compete with a whole range of activities to attract volunteers, who may prioritise hobbies from skiing holidays to cruises and weekend breaks.

As a result, it says the sector will miss out on crucial skills, experience and energy and that charities need to stop viewing volunteers as a means to an end or face a decade of struggle.

The report, the last in a seven-part series, goes on to say that even if these new volunteers are secured, they are more likely than the previous generation to want to use their skills in more demanding voluntary roles.

The report offers eight pieces of advice to the voluntary sector on how to attract, keep and get the best out of 21st century volunteers, including full support from senior management, providing more skills-based roles and treating volunteers in the same way as staff.

Joe SaxtonnfpSynergy’s Driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton, said: “Volunteering is at the heart of the charity sector and it’s what separates it from corporations. However, with baby boomers reaching retirement and younger people volunteering in ever greater numbers, charities need to adapt to the needs of these new volunteers who are expecting something in return.

“The most successful volunteer managers will see their volunteer numbers and their satisfaction grow. Those who just leave their volunteering to muddle its way through will see their voluntary support stagnate or melt away.”

nfpSynergy is a research consultancy that aims to provide the ideas, the insights and the information to help non-profits thrive. They have over a decade of experience working exclusively with charities, helping them develop evidence-based strategies and get the best for their beneficiaries. The organisations they work with represent all sizes and areas of work and include one in three of the top 100 fundraising charities in the UK.

To read the complete report, ‘The New Alchemy – Part 7’, click here: