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Free Beer Lures Male Volunteers

6 December 2011 at 10:24 am
Staff Reporter
How to get young men engaged in volunteering has stumped many organisations. But Wollongong woman Melissa Abu-Gazaleh has the magic bullet. Free beer.

Staff Reporter | 6 December 2011 at 10:24 am


Free Beer Lures Male Volunteers
6 December 2011 at 10:24 am
Flickr Image: Some rights reserved by alceste99 

How to get young men engaged in volunteering has stumped many organisations.

But Wollongong woman Melissa Abu-Gazaleh has the magic bullet.  Free beer.

She partnered with one of Wollongong’s most popular pubs and got sponsorship from a beer company.

Once the men were assembled in one place she was able to get them to do a survey about volunteering and speak to them about the Not for Profit she founded – Top Blokes Foundation.

She told the National Conference of Volunteering on the Gold Coast last week that “70% of what we see in the media on young men is unfavourable.

“Only 14% of young men in Australia volunteer – in Wollongong when I live – its 8% – really low.

The Foundation she established when she was 19 year-old aims to get more men to volunteer. When they sign up to Top Blokes they get partnered with community organisations.

As for Melissa’s inspiration: “I think men are fascinating creatures,” she told the conference.
“I did this (start up the Foundation) when I was 19 year old. When you are young – the attitude is just screw it – let’s just do it.”

The Foundation runs a Top Bloke awards – recognising peer leaders and has developed an initiative called 50 Top Blokes which is “trying to engage men for the first time in volunteers.”

Her tips for engaging young male volunteers include:

  • Speak their language – what do guys care about?
  • You need to start the conversation with young guys
  • Mentoring is important – particularly if someone doesn’t come from a culture of volunteering
  • There’s lots of peer pressure – it huge – it’s all about getting blokes to get their mates
  • Enter their territory – for the average guy it’s not cool to volunteer – so to attract young guys to our organisation – we do an outreach program. We built a partnership with a beer company and a pub – that opened up the door for us to have a conversation
  • Don’t be too aggressive. Once you become pushy they become hesitant.
  • Give them opportunities to progress on the leadership journey
  • Recognition of positive behaviour
  • Create opportunities to bring their mates along for the ride – so it’s not lonely

Melissa warned that organisations should not delay in signing up the “top blokes” when they show interest.

“How do we make it easy for men to sign up and get involved when they are feeling inspired?  For organisations – reduce delay when processing the applications,” she advised. 

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  • MargoS says:

    As a public health professional, I am uncomfortable about linking alcohol with such a positive initiative. The thing about sponsorships is that the companies doing the sponsoring do it because they get a ‘halo’ effect from doing something ‘socially responsible’, even if the rest of what they do causes untold damage. There are also excpetions to the stereotype of beer-drinking males, and I know quite a few. The basic premise, however, reminds me of how the Florida anti-tobacco youth campaign, ‘TRUTH’, succeeded in getting students to come to meetings by providing pizza and soft drinks — also not exactly healthy, but it suggests that it’s the provision food/drink that may be important.

  • Anonymous says:

    I totally disagree with linking alcohol with community participation. Rather than it not being cool to volunteer, it is actually not cool to have to drink to (a) get together (b) discuss helping someone (c) work out a plan to do something.

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