Up there with “unprecedented” my other least favourite term of lock down has to be “the new normal”. But unfortunately it’s a term that’s set to stay as we are likely to see some long lasting effects of COVID-19.

One area that may well see a shift in uptake is the volunteering sector. A 2019 report by NCVO found that the most likely group of people to volunteer are those in the 65-74 years old bracket. However, as we unfortunately know, that age are amongst the most vunerable to coronavirus. Over 70s need to be extra vigilant, as well as anyone approaching that age but with an underlying health condition. Lots of volunteers also fall into the 75 and over age bracket.
Many organisations rely on volunteers to run, yet with older members of the population needing to self isolate more often, or just at the very least be more careful about where they go and what they do, charities and non-profits may struggle. The photos on the National Trust’s volunteers page – which mainly shows older volunteers – may need to reflect social distancing, and behind the scenes many extra steps of arranging PPE or disinfecting tools may need to happen.
So will we see a bigger uptake in younger volunteers? The statistics may suggest this next year, based on percentages, but whether young people will actually take up the mantle of volunteering from their parents and grandparents is yet to be seen. Volunteer based organisations may need to find new ways to reach a new bank of helpers.

Reaching a younger audience

Gardening is a hot topic at the moment – even before lock down it was becoming fashionable with YouTube channels being set up aimed at young people – so this might be handy timing for the organisations like the National Trust, who could ask these channels to promote their volunteering opportunities to their audience. Meanwhile charities could appeal to other social influencers – such as Charity Shop Sue on Instagram – to promote their opportunities.
Peer led influence is going to be key in any recuritment drives amongst young people, which is where tools like Iszy.ai come in, allowing organisations to collect user generated content from their teams. The charity / organisation can then moderate the content before pushing it out to their own channels, with the volunteer being notified when their content is published so they’ll be encouraged to view the post and share it on their own channels. This differs from charities simply sharing or retweeting vounteers’ personal social posts, which may be from profiles which aren’t wholy suitable for an organisation to share. If you, as an individual, take a photo which is then shared by a high profile channel, you’re likely to feel pretty proud and want to share that amongst your peers – meaning new audience exposure. Iszy also lets organisations incentivise and reward video, image or just text content submissions.
Corporate volunteering – companies giving their team time to volunteer for industry related, or personally important charities – may also become more valuable than ever. Adults in their 20’s and 30’s – the least likely to volunteer currently – may struggle to fit volunteering around work, family life and the school run. But if they’re encouraged and allowed to volunteer during office hours this may see an increase in this age demographic offering their support. The CSR benefits of this can then also be promoted via the corporate volunteers sharing their photos or videos with Iszy
We may also see more collaborations between organisations and colleges or Universities so as to reach young adults. If academic courses and work experience could be enhanced by voluntary work that could be a win win for a lot of parties.
Overall, the world may be a different place for the next year or so at least, and those who recruit and rely on volunteers may find themselves pretty busy over the next few months. If you’re an organisation looking for digital ideas on how to reach new audiences, or a corporation who want to promote the ways you’re already helping charities by donating your team’s time, please do get in touch.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.