Volunteering State of Play (Worth a Read)

An interesting article on the current state of volunteering in Australia, for consideration when we recruit members and/ or volunteers for projects. Note the section I have highlighted regarding Millennials.

Here is a link to the article and imbedded video.


And here is content that seems more relevant to us.

The 2021 census data recorded a 19 per cent drop in volunteering since the last snapshot in 2016. The finding is backed up by more regular, in-depth social surveys done by the ABS.

The depletion of the volunteer brigade is affecting sports clubs, emergency services and long-established organisations like Rotary and Lions, that help run events and raise funds for local charities.

Social researcher Hugh Mackay has been monitoring Australian attitudes and lifestyle habits for six decades.

“This is a weird period we are in at the moment, that helps explain the decline of volunteering,” he says.

“We’ve been changing in ways that have made us more individualistic, much more concerned about ‘me and my rights and my entitlements and my identity’.

“And that’s all working against our natural proclivities to be kind and compassionate and cooperative and help each other out.

“But it’s also worth noting that organisations that want volunteers have probably not been quite nimble enough, and not understanding all these societal shifts and the changing culture.”

Dr Mackay rejects the notion that young people are too selfish to volunteer, saying a more nuanced shift has occurred.

“Millennials have grown up with a deep sense of impermanence and have adopted a mantra of ‘let’s keep our options open’,” he says.

“Committing to anything long-term runs against the ethos of this generation, so they will be happy to help out, but reluctant to join up to anything that requires a weekly meeting or a long-term program.

“I think this rise of individualism marks a really weird, aberrant period in human history, and it’s not actually who we are,” he reflects.

“I think our true nature as communitarians, co-operators, and kind and compassionate people who look out for each other will re-emerge.”

“The pendulum is going to swing back, I am sure of it.”

The findings might suggest why people, particularly younger, are happy to volunteer for events like a For a Meal packing session but, for the time being, are less interested in a regular commitment such as joining Rotaract.