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4 min read

3 Surprising Reasons People Refuse to Volunteer

February 19, 2020

People meeting

From the cubicle to the boardroom, volunteering is linked to both personal and career development. What’s more, offering volunteer options at work is increasingly viewed as table stakes for attracting next generation talent and creating a great culture at work. 

But, with the U.S. unemployment rate hovering at a low 3.6 percent, does worrying about such things really differentiate you in the employer marketplace? Do people really care?

The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

89% of employees believe1 that companies who sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment than those that don’t. 

Unfortunately, it turns out that -- as employers and individuals -- we may be getting in our own way when it comes to doing and feeling good! 

Despite a firm belief in the value of volunteerism at work, only 38% of respondents say their employers provide access to company-sponsored or coordinated volunteer programs1. With full-time employees in the U.S. averaging 8.5 hours of work time on weekdays and 5.4 hours on weekend days worked2, time is not on our side! If we have to look around outside of our workplace for causes to connect with, we may simply opt out. We need technologies that make it fast and easy to get involved in our community.

And opting out doesn’t make us happier. Or healthier. 69% of those surveyed1 say they are not volunteering as much as they would like to, which is a real shame, when you realize that beyond just experiencing a general level of dissatisfaction, not volunteering might even be negatively affecting our health. Conversely, based on recent research by VolunteerMatch and United Healthcare, 75% of U.S. adults say they feel physically healthier through volunteering and 88% report increased self-esteem when they give of their time. We need access to inspiring volunteering options -- roles, causes and events -- that encourage us to take fast action and experience all the benefits volunteering brings.

Once you’ve removed the common complaints of “I don’t have time,” and, “It’s too hard to get access to causes I care about,” will employees suddenly show up to volunteer? Our experiences suggests that there’s yet one more thing that gets in the way: not providing the flexibility volunteers crave

According to CECP3, “volunteer participation rates are boosted when employees have access to more flexible volunteering opportunities.” Offering a combination of volunteering options, whether those are virtual, board service or skills-based, can help meet people where they are and remove objections. Great employers are catching on to this trend: CECP reports that in 2018, 76% of companies surveyed offered either pro bono service and/or board leadership, and that the combination of the two increased from 73% in 2016 to 79% in 2018, providing employees with more choice and thereby encouraging more involvement.

Need some ideas that take into account time, access and flexibility and can help you strategically engage more of your volunteers?

We’ve got you covered! Our eBook: Inspired! guides you through what you can do month by month. Use these ideas to create something uniquely your own, while giving your employees what they crave

Free Download: Inspired! 12 Months of Weird & Wonderful Volunteering Ideas

1Source: 2017 Deloitte Volunteerism Survey 

2Source: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/atus.pdf  

3Source: https://cecp.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GIN2019-complete-WEB2.pdf

Laura Plato

Written by Laura Plato