Scotland could be facing a "lost generation" of volunteers, according to Volunteer Development Scotland.
The organisation, which is Scotland's centre for excellence in volunteering, polled 2,000 young people aged between 11 and 25 at the end of 2009. The figures, released this week, showed that the proportion of 17 to 25-year-olds who said they recognised a link between volunteering and being a good citizen had fallen from 12 per cent in 2007 to 9 per cent last year.
The poll also showed that more than 90 per cent of 17 to 25-year-olds "failed to recognise that volunteering plays a vital role in being a good citizen", the organisation said.
George Thomson, chief executive of Volunteer Development Scotland, said: " While these findings do give us some encouraging signs, with over two-thirds of 11 to 16-year-olds either volunteering or keen to do so, there is an urgent need to act in order to connect volunteering with the wider societal agenda so that young people can see the real benefit it adds to our nation."
A spokeswoman for Volunteer Development Scotland warned the country faced a lost generation of volunteers.
"The findings of the survey highlight the decline in attitudes and lack of interest in being a good citizen in the 17 to 25-year-old age group," she said. "We therefore need to engage more to show them the value of volunteering and how to get involved."
She said the organisation planned to work with the Scottish Government Schools Directorate to provide guidance on and insight into how volunteering can be encouraged.