Tag Archive for: navigating frustrations in volunteering

Navigating Frustrations: A Young Volunteer’s Perspective

I am 27 years old and recently moved from the private sector to the charity sector. Here are a few things I have learned and some personal frustrations I’ve encountered.  

Firstly, there is a significant lack of volunteering opportunities for young people. It often feels like we are not given a fair chance, and this leaves an impression of mistrust and undervaluation of our skills. This sentiment is shared by many others in the same situation. 

My concerns began while researching opportunities to become a young trustee, as well as looking for simple volunteering opportunities within my community. It is frustrating to see that some volunteer processes are not favourable to young people. Surprisingly, there are few opportunities available, especially for those under 18. These are the very individuals the sector aims to engage, as they will be the new generation shaping future volunteer efforts and community support. 

However, I want to do more for the sector and lend a helping hand through volunteering. Unfortunately, this is challenging because many charities promote volunteer roles in a long-winded manner, often unclear about what they want. Some opportunities do not seem friendly and treat young people as if they lack experience. This is even though many of us have volunteered before, though not always long-term due to various reasons or simply because the fit wasn’t right. 

This is not an attack on organisations or the sector, but it is a daily frustration for me and many other young people who care about their communities and want to volunteer without feeling undervalued. It is particularly disheartening when reading articles where long-established individuals or organisations describe the younger generation as ‘lazy,’ ‘addicted to their phones,’ or ‘disinterested in volunteering.’ This stereotype is simply not true. 

To the sector: reach out to the community, youth groups, and schools. Pitch your volunteering opportunities and engage with young people. Ask them about their concerns and fears. Inquire why they might not volunteer and how you can help. Actively seek feedback and listen intently to young voices, as we can all learn from them. As time moves on, so should your approaches. Otherwise, many organisations may find themselves struggling. 

My message:

  1. We are here, and keen to volunteer 
  2. We are a generation that use short and snappy content across all platforms – make it clear with what message you want our generation to deliver 
  3. Time is of the essence – unfortunately, we can’t volunteer out of school or work hours, however, we want to support but how can we get your help? 

Over time, it’s natural for some organisations to struggle with adapting to change. Embracing modern technologies and understanding the evolving attitudes of new generations can be challenging. However, this is an opportunity to grow and connect with the next wave of volunteers, who bring fresh perspectives, skills, and new talents. By adapting our volunteering opportunities to meet their needs, we can attract eager individuals and create enriching experiences for everyone involved. This will create a feeling of fulfilment and increase the chance to volunteer again.  

We’ve observed a rise in young people taking initiative and leading their projects, often utilising social media to share engaging and inclusive content. This trend highlights the importance of adapting our approaches to meet their expectations and inspire them to join our efforts. By understanding and embracing these changes, we can encourage a vibrant and dynamic volunteering community.