One of the biggest challenges facing voluntary organizations is the recruitment of young people, as either employees or volunteers. Youth are a curious and misunderstood demographic. While politicos lament their unwillingness to participate in the electoral process as evidence of political apathy, disengagement and intensified individualization, we would do well to remember that politics involves more than engaging with the formal institutions of government. As the German sociologist Ulrich Beck argues in The Reinvention of Politics, “the individualized everyday culture of the West simply is a culture of built-up knowledge and self-confidence…Individuals still communicate in and play along with the old forms and institutions, but they also withdraw from them in at least part of their existence…Their withdrawal, however, is not just a withdrawal, but at the same time an emigration to new niches of activity and identity…All of that no longer fits into one design of an order upon which the surveying specialists of the political map can base their analyses” (pp. 101-102).
A new charity organization called V is not only challenging the myth of youth apathy, but aggressively campaigning to mobilize young people into voluntary charitable action. Its latest campaign, Favours, is providing a much-needed makeover for volunteering, seeking to change the misperception that giving back to your community is “boring” or “geeky,” a perception the organization reports to be common among 25% of youth in England, and turning volunteering into an accessible and natural lifestyle choice.
The video release of the Favours campaign can be streamed here, compliments of The Guardian Online.
The London-based V describes itself as “a team of young people, staff members, and trustees from the business and voluntary and community sector.” Its youth members do more than stuff envelopes, knock on doors and whoop it up at fundraising events – they also act as consultants and play a huge role in delivering the organization’s messages and work.
By giving young people advisory authority and a role in decision-making, voluntary organizations will not only be able to harvest their creativity, talent, intelligence and energy, but also enable them to demonstrate that the third sector is a viable place for youth to launch and maintain their careers.