NCVO urges charities to do more to encourage ‘family volunteering’

Charities are being urged by the NCVO to improve their promotion of volunteering as a family activity.

Research by the NCVO details how family influences the way people giving their time to good causes. This can be through working together for the same charity, or when volunteers encourage their relatives to work for free for a charity.

However, the charity body warns that this form of volunteering is at risk of falling unless charities develop more robust opportunities for family members to give up their time for charities.

“Changes in the ways that we live and in how organisations involve volunteers are affecting both the chances of family volunteering happening and the experience of it once it does,” states the report Volunteering: A Family Affair?

“If it is to be sustained, it needs attention and nurturing. While an increasing number of organisations are looking to design specific family volunteering schemes, this remains a small part of what family volunteering is about.”

Charities are being urged to acknowledge the wide range of family volunteering opportunities they can provide.

“Family volunteering is diverse, and it is extensive. It includes, but is about far more than, parents and children volunteering together within the same organisation,” states the report, which has been funded by Sport England, Pears #iwill Fund, Greater London Authority and the Scouts.

“It can be about any number of family members volunteering and can involve volunteering alongside each other, for each other or together. It goes beyond what people typically think of as family volunteering. Much of this volunteering currently goes unacknowledged by organisations.

“We encourage all organisations to reflect upon how they currently involve families as volunteers (and members, supporters, participants), how this has been facilitated to date and how it is changing.”

Other suggestions include understanding how volunteering can fit in with family’s increasingly busy lives.

“We encourage organisations to consider how they can be more flexible in their involvement of volunteers and how they can adapt so that volunteering can be seen as part, or an extension, of a family’s other roles and responsibilities rather than a source of conflict about a family’s resources,” adds the report.


Promoting inclusion in family volunteering is also important, by developing volunteering that acknowledges “a more diverse range of families”.

Charities are also being asked to look at ways to “improve the volunteering experience and outcomes for families”. The report adds that this focus on family volunteering “will also improve the outcomes for organisations and their beneficiaries”.

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