Benefits of volunteering
For employees, the young and older people
In 2015, the Conservative Party promised to give employees at large companies and in the public sector the right to paid leave for volunteering.
Employees are extremely positive about giving at work, whilst employers that offer opportunities to support good causes through the workplace generate positivity, enthusiasm and increase productivity of their staff.
Through our Growing Giving Inquiry we saw BT’s participation in Sport Relief and the opportunities for volunteering had a significant impact on employee engagement. In fact, after Sports Relief 2012, BT found that 99% of their employees believed volunteering to be a good use of their time and 94 said that they were proud to work for BT.
There are associated benefits too, with suggestions that employees who volunteer are likely to be more productive and loyal, which can have a consequent reduction on employers costs such as recruitment and training.
People – especially the younger generation– are increasingly conscious of the reputations of companies. That includes a desire to shop from businesses that they see as ethical, and a determination to work for organisations whose values they share.
If the Government pushes ahead with their workplace volunteering policy pledge over this Parliament we’ll see an increased focus on workplace volunteering, with positive results for employees and employers alike.
Social action has a dual benefit particularly for young people; the positive impact for the chosen cause and the benefit from the skills gained from their experience. It helps improve student’s motivation in school, and is particularly powerful in developing skills that are more difficult to teach in the classroom, like leadership and teamwork.
Research has discovered that young people are extremely socially minded, and believe that individuals have a duty to make a positive social contribution. They are committed to causes and want to use their time to make an impact.
But even though many young people want to make a difference, they need information on how to get involved. That’s why policy makers need to focus on making sure that young people are given the opportunity to learn more about charities.
In fact, we’ve worked with the University and College Application Service (UCAS) to create guidance that helps young people to maximise the benefit that they get from their participation making sure that when they give, they get something back.
Our Growing Giving Inquiry showed us that giving is a habit and engagement at an early age can mean a person developing a commitment throughout their life.
We need to continue to empower young people to get involved in volunteering, showcasing both the impact that they make and how it benefits them.
Volunteering can have a transformational impact on the lives of older people. Research has shown that older people who take part in volunteering report improved well-being, life satisfaction and lower rates of depression.
Older people are incredibly positive towards charities. They do a great deal to support them both through financial support and volunteering. However, there’s a real appetite amongst many older people to want to do more.
Many feel that they have a skill that they would like to use to help a charity, but don’t have the opportunities to get involved. More needs to be done to link older people up with volunteering opportunities, giving them the chance to access all the health and well being benefits linked directly to community action.
The Growing Giving Inquiry put forward a series of recommendations to promote giving amongst older people. Many of these projects focus on improving the information that older people receive about volunteering opportunities, which could help tackle the growing problem of loneliness.
Volunteering can also be a way of helping with intergenerational divides. When young people and older people get the opportunity to work together on a project or for a cause that they support, it can help to break down barriers.
Some believe that the current generation of retirees will be more time-rich than any previous generation, benefitting from advances that are increasing life expectancy. But many older people retain a commitment to using the retirement to make a difference and charities need to make it easy for them to get involved.