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Youth volunteering slumps by a quarter following continuous rise since 2008

  • Dip spearheaded by 17-19 year olds, and amongst males
  • “Drop may reflect cuts to youth volunteering initiatives, showing need for better understanding of volunteer recruitment and retention strategies”, vies nfpSynergy’s Saxton

The numbers of young people claiming to have volunteered within the last three months dipped by a quarter – from (slide 3) 19% in Nov 2010 to 14% in May 2011 – despite having previously enjoyed a steady rise since May 2008, according to new data out today.

These are the latest findings from leading not-for-profit sector research consultancy nfpSynergy’s Youth Engagement Monitor which tracks a representative sample of over 1000 11-25 year olds throughout mainland Britain twice-yearly, gaining insights into their charity-related views and habits.

The largest drop-off (slide 4) seems to be in the 17-19 year old age group (down from 27% to just 15%) and amongst males (down from 17% to just 12%).

A similar dip – from (slide 5) 20% in May 2010 to 15% in May 2011 – is also manifest amongst those who claim they haven’t volunteered in the last three months but have done so in the past year, again despite their numbers having previously broadly risen since 2008; and, again (slide 6), spearheaded by 17-19 year olds and by males.

When young people are asked about their motivations and obstacles to volunteering (slide 7), charities may be encouraged that 2 in 5 (38%) say ‘friends and family would be proud’ and that a third (34%) say they ‘personally do or would get a lot out of it’. However, 18% say they are ‘not confident enough’, 17% say they ‘don’t know what it involves’ and 13% say they ‘have enough to worry about already’.

‘Helping others’ (slide 8) and having a personal link of an issue or cause to a ‘family member’ are spontaneously cited amongst top reasons to volunteer, with ‘work experience’ and ‘for my CV’ scarcely mentioned.

nfpSynergy’s Driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton, comments:

“Levels of volunteering amongst 11-25 year olds appear to have dipped, in recent months, back down to levels not seen since 2008. This drop may well reflect a cut in investment in youth volunteering initiatives like v, suggesting a possible link between government funding and volunteering levels – and thus highlighting the urgent need for a better understanding of what volunteer recruitment and retention strategies do and do not work.

Moreover, the dip in youth volunteering could yet be made worse by ongoing cuts to youth services, despite worryingly high levels of youth unemployment, and by the National Citizen Service, if it hoovers up any new investment in this area, only to produce a limited number of volunteers, whatever their supposed higher quality.”



MEDIA COMMENT: To interview nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton about these findings, please contact him direct on 07976 329 212 or joe.saxton@nfpsynergy.net; or, alternatively, contact Adrian Gillan (0774 086 7215; E: adrian@gillanmedia.com) for further assistance.

Note to editors:

nfpSynergy (www.nfpsynergy.net) is the UK’s only research consultancy dedicated to the charity sector and not-for-profit issues. It provides ideas, insights and information to help voluntary and community organisations thrive in an ever-changing world. Regularly harvesting the social and charity-related views of public and parliament, media and business - not to mention not for profit organisations themselves - nfpSynergy has a vast and ever-growing knowledge pool from which to extract and deliver insights.



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Youth Volunteering

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