Data Tells A Story
Last week we shared some of the data from the Connector. As we said we are looking for you to pose us questions that you may be curious about. We are employing an AI tool to help glean the answers and as we ask it more questions, the more it will learn and be able to suggest what we might want to know. So ask away . . . by just emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the slides we shared with you last Thursday . . .
Slide 1 - Volunteer Motivations
From our research "An Anti-Racist Approach to Volunteering" we found that volunteer motivations have shifted significantly. In the past those top three things have been more self-focused, building my network, build my skills and do something that makes me feel good. These new three motivators – impact, connections and belonging – are more other focused, outward focused.
Slide 2 - Volunteer Availability
We have seen an increase, year on year, to the volunteers looking to find a new opportunity. It is up and that tells us that volunteers are available. We also see that organizations calling for volunteers is down. This may be attributed to the increase demand on services and decreased funding those organizations are experiencing. Our suggestion is think about the changing motivations, demographics, preferences and actions of volunteers. Your ability to attract new people to your cause depends on it.
Slide 3 - Volunteer Demographics
We have seen a significant shift in the age demographics of volunteers. Over the years the distribution of who (from which age categories) was volunteering came in pretty steadily the same way. That all changed once the pandemic arrived and has remained. While some suggest that "Boomers" are no longer volunteering, the truth appears to be more nuanced. Most age groups just aren't volunteering as many hours as they once did. Meanwhile the growth in volunteer numbers seen above can be attributed to "Gen Z" as they leave high school and seek to engage in community.
Slide 4 - Volunteer Preferences
Maybe this one is a bit obvious but bears repeating anyway. The pre and post pandemic story of volunteering includes an increased interest in Virtual Volunteering. As you can see below, it's not that In Person Volunteering has disappeared, it's just that volunteers expect options now that also fit in with the rest of their lives. We also see these trends in work and flexible work arrangements . . . guess what, volunteering isn't different because it's still about people in both cases. Note the obvious spike in interest when pandemic hit followed by a stabilizing interest that is higher than pre pandemic.
Slide 5 - Volunteer Actions
This is where we see a strong relationship between Volunteer Demographics (age) and Volunteer Actions (mobilizing compassion). This "new" generation of volunteers are very aware of climate action and social justice. They are aware of when something new happens or changes in the world around them. They immediately begin searching for ways to "mobilize their compassion" toward those causes, whether it be:
- for Refugees following the war in Ukraine,
- or support for Anti-racism following Black Lives Matter marches,
- or support for Indigenous justice following residential school gravesites,
- or Climate action following BC wildfires
All of these examples saw a spike in interest often followed by a sustained increase in interest that we label "mobilizing compassion".
There is no conclusion. Your volunteer program may not be designed for the changing interests of today's volunteer. There is no one single strategy we can give you that says "hey, here is how to ensure people care about your cause and joins you in that care". What we can say is there are a LOT of your neighbours, next door and across the country, that are looking to engage their passion and compassion, looking for that sense of belonging and impact, looking to make a new connections with you.
Post your opportunities on the Connector, keep reading our blog which includes Guest Blogs providing guidance and encouragement, and consider joining any of our upcoming coaching sessions which lets us dig deeper with you!
Your VolunteerConnector Team