The ‘selfish volunteer’ has arrived, says report

Volunteers are becoming more selfish and are not prepared to do the mundane jobs that paid staff will not do, according to a new report by consultancy nfpSynergy.

The report, 21st Century Volunteer (Third Sector, 7 December), commissioned by the Scout Association, claims a new breed of “selfish” volunteer has emerged – people who are just as interested in what they can get out of the experience as what they can put in.

Such volunteers are looking for qualifications to put on their CVs, or hoping to improve their skills or meet new people.

The report argues that, just as no one would expect someone to take a paid job without looking at the salary, volunteers should not be expected to give their time without thinking about what they can gain.

The report says: “A single theme that runs through all our trends and ideas concerning the future of volunteering is that ‘volunteers are doing it for themselves’. Volunteers will increasingly want to know what is in it for them.” It suggests more thought should be given to how volunteers are managed.

Dr Justin Davis Smith, deputy chief executive of Volunteering England, believes it is wrong to describe the new breed of volunteer as selfish. “I would not use the word ‘selfish’,” he said. “But I agree that we need to get away from the idea of volunteering as a gift and see it more as a transaction.”

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