Reimagining Volunteering

The Tension

While volunteer numbers appear to be stagnating or even declining in the Red Cross and Red Crescent, volunteerism in wider society is still hugely popular and in many instances is growing. Volunteering patterns are also changing: Globally, it is estimated that only about 30% of volunteers do so formally through institutions. Which means the majority of citizens volunteering are doing so through grassroots mechanisms, often enabled by digital technologies. Many are self organising, motivated by causes (and less by brands and institutions) and may want to see more direct, faster and greater impact from their work. Retention is also becoming a greater challenge as people’s lives are shifting with broader social changes. Our volunteering models may need revising to allow for a greater diversity of volunteers.

Some Issues identified in the S2030 consultations

  • Can we reimagine volunteering? Much of our volunteering model is about recruiting people (through a long complex process) to deliver services that we have already designed, whilst this is an essential part of our work, an increasing number of people also want to drive their own change in the world. Can we also be a platform that helps others make the change in the world they want to see, consistent with our principles and values.
  • Citizen led volunteering is often flatter, distributed and highly networked. How does a larger, more hierarchical institution such as the RCRC engage with such dynamic, self-organising volunteer approaches?
  • Technology is playing a greater role in volunteer organising, are we developing these approaches fast enough?
  • Volunteers and in particular, Movements are often motivated and rally behind causes, are we communicating and clear enough about our ‘cause’?
  • Motivations for volunteering can be complex and multifaceted, how can we widen our approaches to ensure it is more attractive to diverse communities and a wider audience?

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What actions can we begin immediately to address the challenges we are currently facing?

What future focused actions can we start to experiment with to address emerging trends that are likely to impact on us in the next 10 years?

What is the value of us taking this action?

What are the barriers that exist for us to tackle this issue?