Young People as Volunteers: A Guide to Moving from Traditional Practices


Date of Publication: December, 2011

Authors: Volunteering Queensland

Published by: Volunteering Queensland

This research was heavily focused on practical outputs and strategies; aiming to provide organisations with tools to implement into their programs.

Participants included:

  • Focus groups with a variety of young people.
  • A focus group with 23 organisations wishing to engage young volunteers.
  • A focus group with 8 organisations which demonstrated effective engagement of young volunteers.
  • A series of one-on-one interviews with representatives from selected organisations across a range of sectors who demonstrated a high level of effectiveness in engaging young people

Five main areas were important.

  1. Culture: Young people respond well to an inclusive, flexible, and goal-oriented organisational culture. Organisations should acknowledge that young volunteers often have other priorities such as study or paid work.
  2. Linking: Understanding the interests, reasons, and motivations of volunteers is crucial. Take a personal approach and sit down with each volunteer to work out what people want to do and what they wish to gain from volunteering.
  3. Engaging: Engagement is about involvement and contribution – a) identify the volunteer’s values, interests, and skills; (b) see where these can be utilised in your organisation; (c) put outcomes and timeframes in place; and (d) continue to monitor and adapt as required.
  4. Belonging: Creating a sense of belonging for young volunteers is about creating a space for them to be ‘part of the team’. Young people find personal satisfaction in belonging within social, educational, work, and volunteering contexts.
  5. Leadership: Leadership adds the next element to volunteering. By recognising their value and the significant contribution they can make, young volunteers in positions of leadership can be highly beneficial and put organisations in a favourable position.

The authors concluded that by using Young People as Volunteers as a guide to identify areas for improvement, organisations can make a conscious shift towards addressing these areas.

The full report is available here.