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Over Half of British Workers Would Sacrifice Time and Money to Volunteer Overseas, Says New VSO poll

Over Half of British Workers Would Sacrifice Time and Money to Volunteer Overseas, Says New VSO poll

Expert opinion
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Over half of British workers would sacrifice time and money to volunteer overseas, says new VSO poll.

Results from a national online poll out this week, show that 56% of British full time workers would volunteer their skills to fight poverty in a developing country, if they had the support of their employer.

Leading international development charity, VSO, commissioned Gorkana ahead of International Volunteer Day (5th Dec) to survey 3,000 professionals from the corporate sector. VSO’s ‘Perception of Corporate Volunteering Poll’ was conducted in November 2015. Results show how much time people are prepared to put aside for a good cause, which countries would best benefit from their skills, the type of volunteering they would be willing to engage in and their motivation and worst fears.

Key findings:

  • Overall, 56% of respondents would volunteer overseas if they had a job to come back to.
  • 68% believe volunteering “improves the lives of others and helps reduce poverty”.
  • 61%, who earn between £20,000 and £40,000, said they would volunteer overseas.
  • 80% would volunteer for two months or less.
  • 39% would volunteer in Africa and 39% in Asia.
  • 70% would consider group volunteering, but only 6% would consider ‘relay volunteering’ (when one volunteer from the same company consecutively takes over from another)
  • 50% were most concerned about “missing family and friends”.

VSO Knowledge Exchange – established in July this year – is a UK government backed initiative which gives skilled employees from the private sector, an opportunity to volunteer and change lives in some of the world’s poorest places. Chris Walker, Director of VSO Knowledge Exchange, reflects on the findings:

“With over half of respondents saying they would consider volunteering in a developing country, it’s great to know that there are over 1,500 potential volunteers out there, but there’s still work to do.

It’s reassuring that the overwhelming motivation of respondents is to help reduce poverty. This is an important endorsement of VSO’s approach where we always focus on the impact on the poorest people. Whilst there are benefits in terms of career development and innovation, it’s clear that we need to be led by where need on the ground is greatest and demonstrate that we are benefiting the lives of the poorest.

The challenge is matching the desire for shorter term and group placements with what is needed, given that 80% of respondents want to volunteer for under 2 months and 70% want to volunteer as part of a group. If we want to bring about lasting change that addresses poverty, then these types of placements need to be linked to longer term programmes.”

30 year old Natasha Bridge from London is a Management Consultant for Accenture UK. Recently married, Natasha and her new husband - 31 year old IT Consultant, Chris - spent much of their two month honeymoon, volunteering with India's ‘Ministry of Rural Development' through VSO’s Knowledge Exchange. Natasha helped adapt a program policy which would improve work opportunities for people living with disability and Chris produced a report which explored why candidates drop out of job placements and training. Natasha sums up her placement:

“Our experience has been excellent! One of the reasons we chose India is because the scale of the help they need is mind blowing. I wanted to use my skills on a project that makes a difference to people's lives. Although challenging, my experience was extremely rewarding, knowing that the work I did will directly lead to more people with disabilities getting skilled and placed into employment.

I've learnt how to work with people with disabilities and understand the types of challenges that they face. I now understand more about how government processes and policies work. As a result, I’m very interested in working more with people with disabilities as their challenges are not limited to a developing country but are the same worldwide.

We feel honoured to have worked on such a worthwhile project for the Central Government of India. It’s great to know that the work we've done will make a difference. We hope that our work will be the start of a long and prosperous partnership between the Ministry and VSO Knowledge Exchange with many other volunteers following in our footsteps.”

To see full summary of results visit: http://www.vsointernational.org/news/over-half-of-british-workers-would-sacrifice-time-and-money-to-volunteer-overseas-says-new-vso-poll

To sign your company up to VSO Knowledge Exchange visit: www.vsoknowledgeexchange.org

This expert opinion is tagged under:

  • Education
  • Causes
  • Overseas aid
  • International giving
  • Philanthropy stats & trends
  • Volunteering/trusteeship