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Engaging Generations X and Y in Volunteering. Volunteering WA. Advocacy & research in volunteering Education and promotion of volunteering Member agency support and advice Training Referral service Enhancing access to volunteering all ages all abilities all cultures all locations in WA

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Engaging Generations X and Y in Volunteering

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volunteering wa
Volunteering WA
  • Advocacy & research in volunteering
  • Education and promotion of volunteering
  • Member agency support and advice
    • Training
    • Referral service
  • Enhancing access to volunteering
    • all ages
    • all abilities
    • all cultures
    • all locations in WA


who are they
Who are they?

Generation X: those born between 1964 and 1977.

They are aged between 31 and 44. (30-somethings)

Generation Y: those born between 1978-1994 (or -2002).

They are aged between 14 and 30. (aka Nexters, Millennials)

Source: Sayers, Roslyn 2006, Australia’s Changing Workplace: A Generational Perspective, RMIT University.

who are you
Who are you?

Baby Boomers: those born between 1945 and 1963.

They are aged between 45 and 63.

Matures/Seniors: those born before 1946.

They are aged 62+.

Source: Sayers, Roslyn 2006.

let s generalise
Let’s generalise…

Baby Boomers 1945-1963

  • have had only one career, working for one or two employers.
  • expect to live longer; are planning for financial, mental and emotional security.
  • believe they have far more choices in terms of activities and lifestyles.
  • plan to travel, explore new places and spend periods of time away from home.
  • view retirement not as an end to a career, but as an opportunity to begin a new one.
  • like the idea of upgrading skills and gaining new qualifications.
  • refuse to believe that age will limit them in any way.

Source: Henry, Avril 2006,The Changing Face of the Workforce and Generational Impacts, AH Revelations Pty Ltd for ICVET and Merrill Associates, 2002 Exploring the Next Generation of Retirees: Baby Boomers.

let s generalise1
Let’s generalise…

Generation X 1964-1977:

  • resourceful, self sufficient (latchkey kids).
  • skeptical, self-reliant, independent, pragmatic, entrepreneurial, anti-bureaucratic.
  • the "Information Age" generation
  • flexible, comfortable with autonomy, hate endless meetings, bottom line, to the point, result oriented workers.
  • not interested in leadership positions that require additional personal and professional time
  • comfortable with leadership changes and a variety of leadership styles.
  • will have at least three distinct careers, more than 12 employers.

Source: Merrill Associates, 2003; Henry, 2006

let s generalise2
Let’s generalise…

Generation Y 1978-1994

  • have been wanted, valued and coddled from birth.
  • have lived highly structured lives.
  • are the 24/7 generation.
  • will have more than 5 distinct careers, more than 20 employers, and be self employed by choice more than twice.
  • are open minded; highly tolerant to differences.
  • will work overseas several times, often for short periods of a year or less.
  • value education and training and see it as being a significant tool in helping them to be more successful.

Source: Henry, Avril 2006 and Merrill Associates, Call them Gen Y or Millennials – They deserve our attention, 2005.


Gen Xers

  • may not connect with their grandparents’ concept of volunteerism as civic duty.
  • may not buy into their parents’ optimism about changing the world.
  • feel capable of helping one person.
  • may prefer to focus on local, not global issues, on tangible results, not idealism.

Gen Ys

  • look for variety, stimulation and "push button" action.
  • are searching for their causes.
  • exhibit a strong interest in volunteering.

Source: Merrill Associates, Move Over, Mom & Dad - We’re not like you! 2003 and Merrill Associates, 2005.

volunteering statistics 2006
Volunteering Statistics 2006

Source: Commonwealth of Australia, Volunteering in Australia: Changing patterns in voluntary work 1995-2006, 2008

volunteering involvements organisation type
Volunteering Involvements – organisation type

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Voluntary Work 2006

volunteering involvements activity type
Volunteering Involvements – Activity Type

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Voluntary Work 2006

attracting generation x volunteers
Attracting Generation X Volunteers
  • Promote the value of changing the life of one individual.
  • Make it local, not global.
  • Talk about results - be specific about the difference they can make.
  • Encourage flexibility, creativity and the freedom they need to reach the desired results.
  • Identify what they will learn, gain from the volunteer experience.

Source: Merrill Associates, 2003

retaining generation x volunteers
Retaining Generation X Volunteers
  • Give them meaningful assignments
  • Listen for their preferences and concerns, respect their skills and opinions.
  • Remember that they are very good at multitasking.
  • Build in socialising, fun, celebrations (food!).
  • Run tight, brief, efficient meetings (including orientation).
  • Have copies of all materials available (self education).
  • Make it easy for people to participate.
  • Recognise individual contributions.

Source: Merrill Associates, 2003

attracting generation y volunteers
Attracting Generation Y Volunteers
  • Promote the cause/mission or issue to attract this civic minded generation.
  • Focus on issues that represent the interests of the community rather than individuals.
  • Promote collaboration, team spirit and diversity.
  • Talk about multiple options, parallel opportunities instead of asking them to commit to one thing.
  • Offer a variety of exciting and challenging experiences.

Source: Merrill Associates, 2003

retaining generation y volunteers
Retaining Generation Y Volunteers
  • Provide opportunities to be innovative and creative.
  • Engage them quickly, keep them busy and give ongoing, immediate feedback.
  • Clearly define tasks and expectations.
  • Use technology.
  • Provide an atmosphere of collaboration and teamwork.
  • Treat the Gen Y volunteer as a respected equal.
  • Allow them to ask questions and challenge assumptions.

Source: Merrill Associates, 2003




Ease of access






Source: Institute for Volunteering Research, What Young People Want from Volunteering,1997


VOLUNTEER TASKS MATRIX (courtesy of Volunteering South Australia)

Source: Office of South Australia, Engaging Gen Y.

are we that different
Are we that different?

…excerpt from

Exploring the Next Generation of Retirees: The Baby Boomers

(Merrill Associates 2002)

“Volunteer managers are being challenged to design new recruitment efforts, systems and structures to meet this new generation of volunteers. Current research has identified several themes and priorities to consider:”

  • Offer choice, flexibility and responsiveness to today's lifestyles.
  • Provide options and the ability to choose what and how much a volunteer can do.
  • Use the Internet to give information, make statewide and national connections and to recruit and place volunteers.
  • Enhance your marketing messages with images of volunteers doing new, unexpected things.
  • Don't rely on "civic duty" and "make a difference" as marketing messages.
  • Offer opportunities for new experiences, challenges and stimulation.
  • Provide clear expectation regarding time, tasks and training.
  • When possible promote the connection to local issues and local problem, and communicate how volunteers will make a difference.
“The world is passing through troubled times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age; they are impatient of all restraint; they talk as if they alone know everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are foolish and immodest and unwomanly in speech, behaviour and dress.”

Peter the Hermit, 1274

“Our youth today now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect for older people. Children now days are tyrants, they no longer rise when elders enter the room, they contradict their parents, they chatter before company, gobble their food and tyrannise their teachers. They have execrable manners, flout authority, have no respect for their elders. What kind of awful creatures will they be when they grow up.”

Socrates, 500BC

“When I look at the younger generation, I despair for the future of civilisation.”

Aristotle, 300BC