BAME volunteers have a worse experience than their white counterparts, research indicates

Black, Asian and ethnic minority volunteers have a poorer experience than their white counterparts, according to new research.

A report published by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations explores what organisations are doing to improve the diversity of their volunteers.  

Time Well Spent: Diversity and Volunteering builds on an earlier study by the NCVO from January 2019 that surveyed more than 10,000 volunteers. 

Researchers have spent the past year examining the data in greater depth and reviewing existing evidence on diversity and volunteering. 

They found that while volunteering was generally a positive experience for many people, younger, disabled and BAME volunteers were less likely to have a positive experience than other groups. 

Satisfaction among BAME volunteers was lower (91 per cent) than among white volunteers (96 per cent), and those from minority backgrounds were less likely than white volunteers to say they planned to continue volunteering in future.

One in seven disabled volunteers said volunteering had negatively affected their health and wellbeing, compared with fewer than one in 10 non-disabled volunteers. 

Plus, volunteers aged 55 and over were more satisfied than younger volunteers.

The research highlights how the death of George Floyd in police custody in the US reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK, which has meant that charities were much more alive to the issues of structural racism.

This in turn has increased their appetite to proactively address diversity issues in volunteering.

But with increased financial pressures and operational challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, some organisations were finding it difficult to achieve diversity and inclusion in volunteering, it says. 

The report recommends several ways in which charities can improve the diversity of their volunteers – through better messaging and imagery, creating clear processes to challenge discriminatory behaviours, and embedding diversity across the organisation.

Sarah Vibert, director of membership and engagement at the NCVO, said: “Our research shows that while organisational approaches to diversity are shifting across the voluntary sector, there are still significant barriers to diversity and inclusion in volunteering. 

“It’s really concerning that volunteers from minority groups report a worse experience.” 

Vibert said the recommendations would improve the volunteer experience for many, and help organisations attract and retain a broader range of volunteers in the months and years to come.

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