Getting to Know the Volunteers

PURPOSE

The purpose of this volunteer study is to understand the needs and motivation of the current iVolunteer volunteers so that we can further guide and educate them based on where they are in their volunteer journey. We also intend to learn what has worked for the existing volunteers so that we can replicate the model and encourage more Filipinos to volunteer and participate in nation building.

SCOPE OF THE STUDY AND METHODOLOGY

The study was conducted in two phases via an online survey, followed by a focus group discussion.

The online study was sent out to 5,000 iVolunteer website users with a response rate of 15% (754 respondents). This was conducted from March 2 to 22, 2015. From these 754 respondents we held a focus group discussion with 4 volunteers to do a deep-dive into the initial data collected.

FINDINGS

Getting to know the volunteers

Gender

From the iVolunteer database of 5,000 users the female to male ratio is 3:1. This is a common picture in most volunteer opportunities wherein females dominate in attendance.

Age

We consistently see a considerable number of volunteers consisting of youths. From iVolunteer’s database, 77% are younger than 30 years old. This is highly correlated to the life stages and priorities; plenty of volunteers are also single or without his/her own family.

1Illustration 1: Age of volunteers

While the youth are generally active and are more familiar with the idea of volunteerism, the split of age might be different with the general landscape of volunteering as iVolunteer’s strategy is focused on youth.

Location

Metro Manila has been the focus of iVolunteer in the past 6 years of its existence. Within Metro Manila the top cities that produce the most number of volunteers are Quezon City, Manila, and Makati—the first two being the most populous cities in the country and the third being the highest in per capita income. It is worth to call out that, aside from Metro Manila, we are seeing a lot of volunteers coming from Northern Luzon–Rizal and Southern Luzon, particularly Cavite and Laguna.

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Illustration 2: Top 16 cities/provinces in the Philippines where volunteers come from

Volunteer Age

We refer to “volunteer age” (v-age) as the amount of years the individual has been volunteering. 54% of our volunteers are very young (=<4 years) in terms of v-age which we can correlate to the increase of awareness of volunteerism in the recent years from the aftermath of disasters, ease of access to information via social media, and higher trust in leveraging technology that enables faster communication and collaboration. Particularly in Metro Manila, this was sparked by typhoon Ondoy (internationally known as Ketsana) in 2009, followed by Habagat the following year.

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Illustration 3: Volunteer age

WHY DO THEY VOLUNTEER?

How were they recruited?

Let’s begin by understanding how they started volunteering. 36% of the respondents said that they started volunteering because they became interested in the idea. Schools, through their curriculum and student organizations, have been the second most common influence as they comprise of 13.9% including those who responded indicating school-related activities and organizations as part of “Others.” A close third at 12.6% mentioned that they “realized that they are more fortunate compared to others.”

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Illustration 4: How they started volunteering

 What motivates volunteers?

The motivations of volunteers are different from one volunteer to another. In order to engage them well, organizations and volunteer managers should be able to understand the individualism of each volunteer. Volunteers are in different maturity stages and it varies based on the experience and commitment of the volunteer. Take note that maturity is not necessarily correlated to v-age; some volunteers can take longer or shorter to mature based on the depth and variety of volunteer experience they might have.

Almost half of the respondents (41.20%) mentioned that they volunteer primarily for self-fulfillment. Based from our interviews, volunteers—especially those who are of the working class—would like to find more meaning beyond their day-to-day jobs and volunteering becomes an outlet for them to do something without being paid. It is followed by the reasons, “wanting to help the country” (38.1%) and “more on experiential” (37.4%). It is also supported by the fact the 65.7% of respondents said that they prefer to volunteer in various organizations to experience different types of volunteer activities.

Given that the primary volunteers in iVolunteer are skilled professionals, a big group also mentioned that they are interested in sharing their skills (34.2%).

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Illustration 5: Motivations of volunteers

While 50% of respondents said that they know their advocacy, only 16.3% mentioned that they are volunteering primarily because of their advocacy. The other 50% mentioned that they still do not know their advocacy and not all of them (8.5%) are interested to discover it today. For those who answered that they are not interested to know their advocacy, they are normally generalists who would help whenever there is help needed regardless of the advocacy.

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Illustration 6: Knowing their advocacy

Those who also know their advocacy volunteer more frequently than those who do not.

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Illustration 7: Knowing their advocacy and frequency of volunteering

Another common motivator is the need to be social. 24% said that they volunteer because they want to meet new friends; 35% of them are actually volunteering by themselves. Another 35% said that they normally volunteer with friends, schoolmates, or colleagues from the office.

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Illustration 8: Companions of volunteers

Where do they find volunteer opportunities?

Social media proves to be an effective channel to promote and find volunteer opportunities. We have also seen how social media has become instrumental in mobilizing volunteers, especially in the instances of calamity in the recent 5 years.

However, iVolunteer leverages social media as one of the primary tools for reaching out to the general Filipino public so this data might be biased based on the profile of iVolunteer’s volunteer.

The data also shows that volunteers who are older in-terms of age or v-age more regularly support a specific organization. People who are <20 or >40 of age and those who are older >10 of v-age still do more calls to NGOs to scout for volunteer opportunities.

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Illustration 9: Channels vs. v-age

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Illustration 10: Channels vs. age

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Illustration 11: Channels to find volunteer opportunities

How do they decide where to volunteer?

Depending on the maturity of the volunteer, their decision factors vary.

For older volunteers or for those who know their advocacy (50% of the respondents), the type of advocacy is the first decision they check when deciding which volunteer opportunity to choose.

For younger volunteers, the more important factors are schedule and time required for the volunteer work. Some of them prioritize the advocacy type based on what they want to experience and learn.

The least of the considerations today are the host organizations who manages the program (this was validated during the focus group discussion).

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Illustration 12: Things they consider

Challenges in volunteering

Other than the factors volunteers consider when selecting volunteer opportunities, the respondents also shared their thoughts on aspects that prevents Filipinos from volunteering and the top 3 challenges are (1) time, (2) money, and (3) information.

Time: Associated to individual’s schedules and having other priorities.

Money: Fees/contribution to volunteer event, cost of transportation to and from the location, impression that everything has a cost. Especially called out by students.

Information: Lack of knowledge of which organization to help, where to find them, and when.

Awareness is also needed as some answered that they need to be educated on the idea of volunteerism and how volunteers are able to contribute.

Culturally, a significant number also mentioned that some are shy to go to organizations that they don’t know or lack encouragement from their environment to start any volunteer work.

Lastly, lack of interest and/or care, and apathy of Filipinos are also some of the other common responses.

To mitigate these challenges, iVolunteer is ensuring that volunteers are provided with a variety of volunteer opportunities published through different channels. This helps volunteers to easily participate during their free time.

While monetary contributions are sometimes part of the development programs of volunteer-engaging NGOs, iVolunteer is educating its partners that there are other fund-generating means such as solicitation or fund-raising activities. Through variety as well, volunteers can choose to volunteer in those with or without contributions.

Lastly, we are sharing stories of everyday volunteers to show those who do not volunteer that this is something that everybody can do.

CLOSING

While volunteers can be generalized, volunteer-engaging organizations and volunteer managers have to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all way of engaging and managing volunteers. Each one would have a different background, level of experience, commitment to specific advocacy, motivation, inspiration, and goals to why they volunteer. No matter if it is a short-term engagement or a long-term commitment, each one needs to be engaged appropriately so that they continue to enrich their volunteer experience and inculcate the values of participatory development in them.

It is also important to educate the volunteers for them to find their advocacy as it helps deepen their commitment to be involved in the development of their causes. The key to the development of the volunteers and on-going participation of volunteers is the timeliness of engagement in each of the critical interaction points with the volunteer:

  1. Upon sign-up: Acknowledge that you have received the registration for the event. This confirms that their sign-up was successful and encourages the volunteer.
  2. Two days prior to the event: Remind them that the event is pushing through and affirm that the volunteer is really needed.
  3. At the beginning of the event: Orientation would provide him a better context on how his volunteer hours in the program contributes to the bigger plan and benefits the community.
  4. During the event: Manage to ensure that each volunteer is properly engaged. Younger volunteers would need more detailed guidance.
  5. At the end of the event: Debrief volunteers so they can share their introspection, reinforced by insights from their fellow volunteers. Encourage them to share their experience with somebody else. Appreciate also the volunteers during this time.
  6. Post-event: Invite and encourage them to come back to the community again to see the progression.

As volunteer-engaging organizations plan volunteer management programs, design it in a way that it is simple for the volunteers. There are many creative ways on how the challenges to volunteerism can be minimized such that everyone can take part in this transformation.

Copyright 2015 iVolunteer Philippines

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