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21st Century Volunteers -UK Study

23 February 2006 at 12:02 pm
Staff Reporter
'New recruit' volunteers are increasingly interested in what they can get out of volunteering, and Not for Profits must adapt according to a new study from the UK.

Staff Reporter | 23 February 2006 at 12:02 pm


21st Century Volunteers -UK Study
23 February 2006 at 12:02 pm

‘New recruit’ volunteers are increasingly interested in what they can get out of volunteering, and Not for Profits must adapt according to a new study from the UK.

In “The 21st Century Volunteer,” commissioned by the UK Scout Association and conducted by London-based nfpSynergy, research says volunteers are looking for concrete returns on their efforts.

That may include career experience, a chance to build their skills, or the opportunity to meet people, the study says.

Volunteers also have more demands on their time than in years past and have become more selective about how and where they donate their time.

Given these trends, the study says, Not for Profits should “productise” their volunteer opportunities by packaging and marketing them in a way that attracts today’s busy, discerning volunteers.

That involves packaging opportunities so volunteers are presented with specific tasks that are measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

The 21st Century Volunteer report also found that although the interactions between fundraising and volunteering are complex, there is much in fundraising management that can be applied to volunteer management.

The report’s author, Joe Saxton says that it is often overlooked that volunteers who fundraise are the biggest single type of volunteer. The development of volunteering rarely gets the same amount of investment that fundraising does.

He says that f you invest $100,000 in fundraising, you can see what you get back. But it is harder to see the results from a $100,000 investment in volunteering.

Saxton added that money has taken priority in developing the two disciplines and estimated that volunteering is between 10 and 20 years behind fundraising.

The research identified different types of volunteer, including ‘selfish volunteers’, who want to know what is in it for them as well as for the organisation, ‘brain volunteers’ and ’cause-driven’ volunteers. ‘Slog-based brawn volunteers’ were found to be on the wane.

Saxton said the charity sector needs to get the message across that volunteers are simply donors who give time, and that offering time and skills should be as natural as giving money.

It was found that volunteering had risen from 29 per cent of the population in 2001 to 42 per cent in 2003. The three most commonly cited motivations for volunteering were belief in a cause, having been touched by a cause and a desire to impart skills and experience.

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