11 October 2021 | 2 min read


Back in 2019, we predicted six volunteer trends that would make waves in 2020 and beyond. While those trends are still accurate, we see some new and exciting innovations on the horizon. Volunteerism has taken a hard hit coming out of this global pandemic, but there’s hope! Here are six more volunteer trends that we see for 2022 and ahead. 


#1 People Are Ready To Get Back To Ordinary

It’s time. Screen fatigue is a real thing. People are sick and tired of lockdown. They’re ready to get back into the routine of daily life. Some researchers argue that normal is actually a good thing as having daily habits can ease cognitive energy and provide feelings of safety. 


Organizations can trigger that feeling of “ordinary” by offering volunteering opportunities. Be it through virtual or in-person experiences, giving people the chance to serve allows them to feel the routine of normalcy. Plus, participating in rewarding activities like volunteering has been proven to lift your mood naturally and help remove negative emotions like stress.  


#2 Training is VITAL

There’s plenty of research to back up why training is so critical for organizations. From increased productivity to lower turnover, the best-performing organizations train their teams. And don’t get us started on the benefits of a happier staff, with better product knowledge, higher self-confidence, and essential skills for the job. 


Now, with new volunteers joining the team and regular volunteers getting back into the swing of things, training is more important than ever. Add virtual volunteers into the mix, and you’ve got a million reasons to give the team thorough training. Whether it’s brand new information or a refresher course, the future of volunteering relies on well-trained team members. 


Here at Volunteer U, we’ve made it easier than ever to train your volunteer team. Our LAUNCH KIT is a digital download that gives you all the tools you need to train your team. Remember, the best volunteers are ones who have been prepared and are confident in themselves and their organization.


#3 Volunteers want something new

Coming out of lockdown has shifted people’s perspectives. We’ve reimagined what it means to connect, thought more deeply about life and loss, and evaluated our most fundamental priorities. 


One of the biggest trends we’ve experienced with volunteers recently is the craving for “something new.” Whether that is a different task, new team, or fresh opportunity, volunteers are looking for novel ways to use their giftings and skills, particularly in a way that seems valuable to them after the perspective shift of the pandemic. 


Something new may look different to each volunteer. It’s up to volunteer managers to think outside the box and give volunteers the chance to redefine what serving looks like to them. Take this time to have in-depth conversations with your team to see where they would best fit in your organization during this season of their life. Asking questions or giving the team surveys are easy ways to get an idea of where to place them. 


#4 Volunteers are waiting for a personal invitation

One of the biggest pitfalls to recruiting is people thinking, “They don’t need me. I’m sure someone else will do it.” Again and again, we hear new volunteers telling us that they didn’t apply earlier because they assumed someone else would fill the role. 


People are waiting for a personal invitation from you. Research shows that a face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than an email. As each trend in this list proves, people are looking for a more personal connection than ever before. In-person recruiting will be a massive trend in the coming years. Organizational leaders should prepare to make personal appeals in the future. 


#5 Virtual volunteering is here to stay

If we’ve learned anything over the pandemic, it’s that remote work, well, works. Volunteers can now serve their favorite organizations across time zones and continents with ease. Programs like ZoomWhatsAppDropbox, and Trello help global workforces tackle projects as a team from any location in the world. 


Graphic designers, photographers, writers, accountants, web designers, engineers, lawyers, and social media gurus (to name just a few) are taking to the web to serve by donating their unique skill sets. And this is just the beginning. 


But beware of burnout. While virtual work may be here to stay, high productivity can be masking exhaustion. Without the normalcy of leaving the office, it’s easy to work 24/7 without stop. Leaders need to pay attention to virtual volunteers. Not only to keep them connected to the rest of the team but to ensure they observe healthy work boundaries. 


#6 Authentic connection is crucial

If there were one word to describe the year 2020, it would be “disconnected.” People are over the impersonal and artificial connections that have been the norm since the pandemic. Volunteer leaders need to take the initiative to create a real bond with their team members. 


One study found that texts and messages just don’t cut it. We crave the sound of connection. A research group had girls solve math problems in front of a stranger (a stressful situation). They then asked participants to text their mothers and others to call their mothers or talk in person. The girls who texted their moms had no change in stress levels. However, the girls who heard their mom’s voice experienced a clear reduction in stress levels. 


The moral of the story? Volunteers need to experience REAL connections. A text, email, or letter won’t do the job. Phone calls, in-person conversations, and, yes, high-fives or hugs are what we need. Those little connection points make us human. Let’s get back to the basics.