Youth volunteering down, says nfpSynergy survey

Youth Engagement Monitor hints at link with cuts in government funding for youth volunteering initiatives and anxiety over unemployment

Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy
Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy

The proportion of young people who volunteer has fallen for the first time since 2008, a survey has shown.

The research organisation nfpSynergy asked 1,000 young people in May if they had done any volunteering in the past three months. Fourteen per cent said they had, down from 19 per cent who said yes to the same question six months earlier. The level had been rising steadily since May 2008.

The largest fall in volunteering levels was among 17 to 19-year-olds – down from 27 per cent in November to 15 per cent in the May survey.

The survey, called the Youth Engagement Monitor, asks 11 to 25-year-olds in the UK about their views and habits in relation to charity twice a year.

Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy, said: "This drop might well reflect a cut in investment in youth volunteering initiatives such as v, suggesting a possible link between government funding and volunteering levels – and thus highlighting the urgent need for a better understanding of which volunteer recruitment and retention strategies work and which do not."

Saxton said the impact of other spending cuts to youth services and university funding, as well as rising youth unemployment, could be affecting volunteering levels. For example, students might be worried about the forthcoming increase in tuition fees in England, he said.

"But we need to see whether this is a trend or simply a one-off before we plan for the next steps," he said.

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