Volunteering: The State Of Play

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Volunteering seems to be on a downward trend according to fresh research. But is the picture as bleak as it sounds and how could a toy show a positive outlook for the voluntary sector.

Lego is fantastic isn’t it?

 

Building Blocks

 

The biggest export in Danish history (run close by its world famous bacon), it may just be small colourful plastic blocks in isolation, but when combined they can create something fantastic. 

 

For more than 70 years, the interlocking bricks – whose name roughly translates as ‘play well’  has fuelled creativity and independent thinking in children and adults alike – from the Millennium Falcon to a humble tower block, from small plastic acorns great plastic oaks have grown – and with no signs of waning popularity they’ve remained a staple of the toybox all from the small Danish town of Billund. 

 

Foundations

 

Speaking of staples and mainstays, volunteers continue to be the building blocks and foundation of many successful charities. Foundations which new research has revealed that may be shaking. 

 

Volunteering has fallen to a historic low in England post-Covid. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) surveyed 7,000 adults for its Time Well Spent report and found that those raising money or taking part in sponsored events was down from 11% to 6% since 2018.

 

No Panic

 

While the research is certainly enough to raise an eyebrow or two, it’s important to keep a calm head. 

 

Our Scandinavian block making friends at Lego turned a profit of around $600m in 2015. But look beyond the face number and you’ll find that just 12 years earlier it was facing debts of almost $1bn.

 

Looking past the initially shocking drop off of 5%, there are still reasons for positivity. Certainly here at Back on the Map, our more than 50 volunteers are our lifeblood from street clean ups to our board or trustees. 

 

Covid may also have skewed the numbers, with one in three over 16s in the UK saying they volunteered at least once during 2020-21. Indeed many of those with extra time during covid-enforced furloughs may have turned to volunteering, only to have their return to work leaving a lack of time for volunteering. In fact, 48% of people surveyed in 2021 said their work commitments were the only thing holding them back from volunteering.

 

The Future

 

So what does the future hold for charities and organisations that rely on volunteers? Well the view from Villette Road looks bright.

 

As mentioned, we already have a team of more than 50 volunteers with everything from IT to woodwork with over 30 weekly activities and sessions run by volunteers. Our volunteers make Back on the Map what we are and I’ll never stop taking any chance I can to praise them. Without volunteers there would be no Back on the Map and I’m certain we’re not the only community organisation who thinks so. 

 

Off the back of that, I’ll leave the last word to Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, former CEO of the Lego Group:

 

“If there was no Lego in Billund, there will almost be no Billund… Lego is Billund, and Billund is Lego.”

 

Until next time, 

Jo