Diversity means difference and the differences between people are countless. People can be different from each other in age, culture, wealth, health, values, race, nationality, religious belief, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, physical ability, and many more.
A diverse team can enrich your organisation by providing different skills, experiences, ideas and perspectives. Increasing diversity within your organisation can lead to more confidence in working with service users from different backgrounds, and can also give an organisation access to wider sources of funding.
Another benefit of becoming a more inclusive organisation is that you increase the pool of volunteers you can recruit from. But in order to access these potential volunteers, you must be willing to examine practices and policies that may prevent people volunteering for your organisation. Your organisation may have unintentionally created barriers to some people getting involved. These barriers could be financial, geographical, cultural, linguistic, physical, lack of awareness, or may be connected to an organisation’s public image.
Ask yourself - would carrying out any of these actions help to include more people in your organisation?
Employing a diverse staff team, thereby displaying the organisation’s commitment to equal opportunities
Using a variety of communication channels to advertise volunteer opportunities, eg. leaflets, posters, social media, local newspapers, specialist publications, talks, presentations
Using simple and accessible language in marketing materials
Paying volunteers their out-of-pocket expenses
Targeting a volunteer recruitment plan at specific under-represented groups
Promoting the benefits of volunteering
Arranging shared transport where possible
Responding quickly and efficiently to enquiries from potential volunteers
Running taster events and “no obligation” days
Ensuring buildings have full disabled access
Being aware of different religious holidays when planning events and activities
Adapting roles to suit individual volunteer needs
Minimising the amount of form-filling and bureaucracy for new volunteers
Young people often face barriers to volunteering even though many are enthusiastic and motivated to give their time. More than a third of the volunteering enquiries received by Voluntary Action South West Surrey come from people aged under 25, and around ten percent are from under 18’s. Young people are likely to be studying so will be looking for volunteer opportunities that fit around their schedule; the cost of travel associated with volunteering is often an issue for young people and they may struggle financially if made to wait until the end of the month for their expenses to be reimbursed.
Research carried out by the British Youth Council in 2008 found the main barriers to volunteering for young people were cost, knowing what is available and time. A Catch22 report from 2011 found that many opportunities were not felt to be flexible enough to fit around education or employment, and that advertising of opportunities was poor, with most young people in the survey finding out about volunteering through word of mouth.
If your organisation wants to attract more young volunteers, then consider the following:
Check with your insurance company about any age restrictions for volunteers
Are you advertising your opportunities in places where young people will see them?
Decide for each of your opportunities what the minimum age for applicants is and make it clear on the opportunity description
Look at opportunity descriptions from a young person’s point of view. Am I old enough to apply for this opportunity? Is it flexible? Is it interesting and worthwhile? Will I get support or training if I need it? Will it cost me money to volunteer?
"Recognise and Respect Us". Office of the Third Sector
The Future of Youth Volunteering. A report by Catch22. June 2011