Fall in volunteering numbers 'caused by lack of opportunities'

Volunteering England says charities report an increase in people wanting to volunteer but unable to find suitable roles

V director of development and innovation Rob Jackson
V director of development and innovation Rob Jackson

A lack of suitable volunteering opportunities is the main reason why the proportion of people who volunteer has been falling, according to Volunteering England.

In an interview with Third Sector, Rob Jackson, the charity’s director of development and innovation, said it had seen a huge increase recently in the number of people who wanted to volunteer. 

"This shows a lack of volunteering opportunities that people want to do," he said. "For example, the opportunities might not be flexible enough."

He said this would be a major theme in Volunteering England’s volunteer management conference in March.

He said the question of employment rights for volunteers was not a main cause of the drop in volunteering. Official figures recently showed a decline in the proportion of people who volunteer.

Patrick Daniels, one of the directors of the Association of Volunteer Managers, said creating the right opportunities was about balancing the needs of the volunteers and the organisation.

"There has generally never been a lack of volunteers, but good quality opportunities do cost money," he said.

Daniels said the government should improve the situation by investing in volunteering infrastructure and raising awareness among other funders, so they understood that managing and recruiting volunteers effectively cost money.

Rebekah Turner, volunteer and fundraising coordinator for the Liverpool Guild of Students, which is part of Volunteering Liverpool, said charities sometimes struggled to raise awareness of the opportunities they had to offer.

She said Volunteering Liverpool recently launched a website that helped to match volunteers and opportunities. She said the site had more than 1,250 volunteers but only about 250 opportunities.

"Charities are not reaching out enough at the moment and sometimes they don’t know how to," she said. "They should be using the internet more than they are. We’re trying to get the message out there."

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