Researchers have been studying for some time now the psychological motivations that compel some to volunteer and others to hesitate. CHARITIESHUB looks under the hood of why you don’t volunteer at charity events but should.
Why People Don’t Volunteer
Just as there is a laundry list of why people choose to volunteer for charities and charitable events, there is a counter-balanced list of why some choose not to volunteer. PTO Today features an illuminating story on its webpage entitled, “Why Don’t People Volunteer?” Outside of the most common reason (“I simply don’t have the time”), some of the other reasons may surprise you. Among those listed:
- No one from any charitable cause or organization asked them to.
- They have an idealized view of people who do volunteer and feel they don’t measure up to that.
- What they do as a volunteer doesn’t match what they had hoped to get out of the volunteering experience.
- They don’t clearly understand what they are being asked to do.
- They tried to volunteer, but no one contacted them. Or they showed up to a charitable event and were not really needed or given anything meaningful to do.
Relevant Magazine points out that deciding to volunteer may well be a generational thing—with dwindling numbers of young people taking up the volunteer mantle previously held by older generations that came before them. Survey findings of age-segmented volunteerism indicated:
*Only 24 percent of Gen-Xers (ages 20-38) volunteered at a nonprofit other than a church in a one-week run up to this study conducted by the Barna Research Group.
That figured compared to 31 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 39-57) and 27 percent of Elders (ages 58+) who volunteered over the same one-week period.
The magazine article also keys on other reasons people don’t volunteer as a whole. The time factor is always near the top of the list and other reasons cited here include the fact that more volunteers seek “grass movements” volunteer activities—choosing to do something in their own backyards versus large, well-known volunteer activities and organizations; and in many volunteer circles, the level of volunteer “turnover” far exceeds volunteer “retention.”
Still other reasons are cited by a study published on the Boys & Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters webpage that tends to indicate some people who would like to volunteer, placed self-imposed restrictions on themselves, based on the age populations of the organizations that some nonprofits serve: namely, a reluctance to volunteer to work with children for a variety of reasons, including:
- They are just not good with kids or have ZERO experience with them.
- They are reluctant to work with children who may experience mental or physical obstacles.
- They already volunteer for another organization and truly do not have the time to engage in additional volunteer activities or events.
- They don’t think they would be a good role model for children.
- They don’t want to be a “babysitter.”
- They don’t necessarily have money to spend on activities with kids.
- They think that they are too old or in some cases too young to volunteer with children.
- Their work schedules do not allow for the frequency of commitment to volunteering.
- They don’t feel they have anything in common with children.
Still further rationale for the lack of volunteering can be found at Volunteer Match, which points out the fact that despite the documentation we are historically a nation that loves to volunteer, in the past decade the number of adults who do actively volunteer represents just one in four of us. And the article offers some guidance on how we can improve the statistic that three out of four of us DO NOT volunteer.
More Clearly Defined Goals
The preponderance of evidence reflected in numerous studies and surveys about volunteerism or the lack thereof leads to three general conclusions. (1) People are more likely to volunteer for organizations and events in their own communities where they can see first-hand how their volunteerism directly impacts those around them; (2) People who do volunteer need to see that the tasks or assignments they are given have some meaningful significance; and (3) Charitable organizations need to do a better job of volunteer outreach and retention and provide a structure and framework for volunteers that is measurable, organized and makes better use of the time and resources of the volunteers they do manage to attract.
Why You Should Volunteer
If charitable organizations and events can reach common ground with current and potential volunteers on the three findings noted above, there is substantial evidence that a great number of benefits are returned to those who actively engage in volunteer activities. United Way hits the nail on the head by outlining four personal benefits realized by those who undertake volunteer activities. They are:
- Volunteers derive personal growth and see positive change in their communities as a result of their personal acts.
- Volunteers feel psychologically enriched and a heightened sense of self-fulfillment (there’s that “do good, feel good” thing going on again!).
- Volunteering often leads to new friendships that continue outside the volunteer activity itself.
- Volunteers benefit by learning more about organizations in their communities and often acquire new skills as a direct result of their volunteer activities.
And there are more than a dozen additional benefits of volunteering highlighted in a detailed article from The Balance, that range from improved self-esteem, to improved job prospects for volunteers.
The bottom line to why you should volunteer for charity events? When the needs of charitable organizations can be linked with the interests, enthusiasm, talents and skills of potential volunteers, it’s a match made in Heaven and truly results in a win-win scenario for all involved.