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Trends in Volunteering

25 April 2018

Volunteer Now were commissioned to provide a suite of reports as part of a legacy project for Building Change Trust. The reports provide an overview of academic and statistical research about volunteering in Northern Ireland from 1995 to date. They provide an evidence base for organisations involving volunteers to plan their work and for government in supporting volunteers.

Trends in Volunteering launch photograph

Representatives from University of Ulster, Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council and Arthur Scott, Department for Communities join Denise Hayward, CEO Volunteer Now at the Trends in Volunteering Seminar in Belfast Harbour Commission.

The key messages to emerge from these new reports on volunteering in Northern Ireland are that volunteering numbers are static overall but there are some significant trends which mean volunteer managers need to refocus on how they design volunteering roles and support volunteers. The new reports provide a detailed analysis of volunteering in Northern Ireland both at a statistical level and in terms of academic research. They provide the most significant overview of available information conducted for many years. They are the culmination of a project funded by the Building Change Trust as part of its final legacy programme.

A Seminar was held in Belfast Harbour Commission to launch one of the reports highlighting Trends in Volunteering.

This report provides an over view of the challenges facing volunteering based on academic research as well as an overview of the statistical information. These challenges are:

  • relatively static numbers of volunteers;
  • changes in the environment for volunteering such as an ageing population;
  • increased levels of social isolation;
  • the impact of digitalisation; and
  • pressure on public services.

The report sets out the impact of these challenges on people’s attitudes and behaviours. Key issues include a movement towards cause driven volunteering and a rise in episodic short term volunteering, including online volunteering. Another key issue is the role of the stalwart volunteers and the need to protect and encourage these people to continue. The report sets out the need to see volunteering roles on a spectrum of formality. How formal a role is will influence the approach to managing volunteers undertaking that role, one approach will not work for every situation.

Read the full report: https://bit.ly/2J8hghB