The socially conscious Generation Y cohort is seeking volunteer roles in significant numbers. We can certainly see this in Wellington, with14 to 29 year olds registering for volunteer roles at twice the rate of other age groups. The positive attributes young people bring to volunteering are obvious; they are enthusiastic, technologically savvy and open-minded. I have also read that this age group tends towards a lack of respect for hierarchy and to voting with their feet if their expectations are not being met. Many would see these traits as negative, but I think they can have some positive spin-offs for the organisations with whom Generation Y-ers volunteer.

Younger volunteers will let you know, either through their words or their actions, if they are dissatisfied with their experience of volunteering at your organisation. There will be times when this can be attributed to a generational mismatch with your organisation, yourself or your other volunteers, but before you write it off as such, what about seeing their views as a microscope on the health of your organisation? Younger volunteers will not stick around (or won’t come to you at all!) if they don’t experience your organisation as being progressive or functioning well. What can be dismissed in Generation Y volunteers as distaste for authority and a case of itchy-feet syndrome could be an accurate reflection of an organisation’s willingness to grow, and allow its volunteer team to do the same.

If the thought of recruiting younger volunteers scares you, or you haven’t yet had success with your efforts, try to see this as a golden opportunity to reflect on your organisation and the way you currently do things. Do you limit volunteers to standard tasks, or do you allow them to follow their passions and develop projects aligned with their skills? Do you encourage them to take leadership positions? How is your training programme structured? Regardless of whether thinking these things through leads to younger volunteers joining your team, you will have done a timely stock-take of your organisation.

The socially conscious Generation Y cohort is seeking volunteer roles in significant numbers. We can certainly see this in Wellington, with14 to 29 year olds registering for volunteer roles at twice the rate of other age groups. The positive attributes young people bring to volunteering are obvious; they are enthusiastic, technologically savvy and open-minded. I have also read that this age group tends towards a lack of respect for hierarchy and to voting with their feet if their expectations are not being met. Many would see these traits as negative, but I think they can have some positive spin-offs for the organisations with whom Generation Y-ers volunteer.

Claire Teal

For more on this topic, visit www.ourcommunity.com.au

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Volunteer Wellington | Te Puna Tautoko is the champion of volunteering in New Zealand Aotearoa!

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