Last year about this time I wrote a blog about volunteering trends to watch for in 2023. It was quite popular, so I decided to take a second look into my very cracked and cloudy crystal ball and see what I could see for 2024. Here are the eight trends that I think might affect your program in the coming year.
Net Zero Volunteering
With the ever-increasing concerns about climate change, people are starting to look at volunteering and how volunteer programs can do their part in reducing carbon. Some ideas are to increase remote volunteering options, make it easy for volunteers to carpool to events and provide digital copies of volunteer handbooks rather than paper ones. More ideas can be found here: https://www.volunteernow.co.uk/sustainable-volunteering-taking-a-step-for-net-zero/
The Rise of Multi-Generational Homes
The cost of living, at least in western countries, is pushing housing into the realm of impossibility for many people. Add that to the rising cost of care for seniors with challenges, it’s becoming more and more common to have three or even more generations in one home. What does that mean for volunteering? Programs need to start looking at ways to involve all generations. Provide opportunities where children, parents and grandparents can all help out together.
People Working Longer Hours
Another impact of the cost of living crisis is that people are taking on two or three jobs just to make ends meet. This leaves them far less time, or energy, to volunteer. How could you deal with that? Offer shorter shifts and more remote opportunities. Also look at one-off tasks where people with a bit of time to spare can come in and do something to help without a long-term commitment.
Alternative Recruitment Options
You know that volunteers are looking for a different volunteer experience than pre-pandemic. They’re also looking in different places to find volunteer opportunities. While word of mouth will never go out of style, new ways of attracting volunteers are gaining traction. For example, Timeraisers; auctions where you pay for your purchases with service hours to a specified charity. Consider different ways you can attract volunteers.
AI is only the latest of the tech crazes, but it’s a big one and it will start affecting how you do things in your volunteer program. Many organizations are already using tools such as ChatGPT to write volunteer postings and impact statements. With the speed this technology is moving, I expect to see “chat bots” on the websites of larger organizations answering questions about volunteer opportunities. Also watch for the bigger volunteer management software programs adding AI functionality to their systems.
Technology can be good or bad, depending on whose hands it’s in. The tools that are making it easier to increase our impact in the world are also making it easier for the bad guys to increase their impact. More and more attention needs to be put on protecting the personal data of volunteers and clients. Thinking that you’re too small to attract that kind of criminal just isn’t going to cut it anymore.
This isn’t a new trend, but it is gaining momentum. More and more organizations are seeing the benefits of collaboration and sharing of resources, including volunteers. (This makes me very happy!) Sharing volunteers, though, means that there has to be an easier way for volunteers to move between organizations. Volunteer passports could provide that way. You can read more about them here.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Large corporations, and sometimes even very small companies, are starting to realize the benefits of being seen as community supporters. Having a corporate volunteering strategy not only provides the company with good public relations opportunities, it’s also a great way to attract high-quality employees. People want to have a higher purpose attached to their work so they look for companies that can supply that. What local companies can provide you with volunteers?
So that’s what I’ve seen in my crystal ball.
Some of these volunteering trends may affect you more than others but they’re all worth keeping an eye on. The world of volunteering is changing, and taking the time to consider how things in the larger world may influence us can give us the opportunity to be proactive and be prepared for when things change. As they will. Having your head in the sand is never a good look!
PS: if you’re interested in how accurate I was with last year’s trends, check out the blog.