Volunteering and older people

Traditional volunteer tasks such as envelope-stuffing might be paid for in future, as skilled volunteers demand more challenging activities in their retirement, according to research from the Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing.

The commission, established by the think tanks NPC and ILC-UK, argues in its new paper, entitled A Better Offer, that the volunteers of tomorrow could end up carrying out shorter-term substantial roles, akin to acting as consultants for charities, because they are unlikely to want to settle for stereotypical volunteer tasks such as licking envelopes and setting out chairs.

The paper also raises concern about the use of compulsory volunteering programmes, such as Department for Work and Pension initiatives that require unemployed people to volunteer in order to receive their benefits, and schemes in which volunteers receive incentives or payments. The paper argues that such schemes could undermine the altruistic motivations of traditional volunteers.

The paper drew on a series of focus groups with volunteers and a round-table with charity volunteer managers carried out in June and July, as well as the results of an email survey of 12 of the UK’s largest charities.