How Do You Get People To Do Something For Nothing?


I have been volunteering at Oxfam for a few months now and yes as selfless as it sounds I must admit I first joined because I was bored, needed a distraction from writing my dissertation and it would look good on my CV. Then something happened. I really enjoyed it and I started getting this overwhelming sense of doing good. But now here is the problem. We have recently started to experience a massive decline in the amount of volunteers we have and as you can imagine this isn’t good for a shop that is only staffed by volunteers. No volunteers, no opening of the shop.

This is a tricky one, how do you convince (excuse the generalisation) a predominantly selfish, won’t do nothin’ for nothin’ society to give up at least 4 hours of their week for nothing but a warm fuzzy feeling as payment? My thoughts are don’t. I don’t think this position should be solely marketed as a thing to do for the ‘greater good’. I think, especially in this area which is mainly populated by students, they should appeal to a person’s selfish side. Oxfam can give you communication experience and give you something to put on your CV that the other 500 applicants applying for your perfect job role won’t have. It’s a win, win situation they get a banging CV and Oxfam get staff. (Obviously this isnt the only people they should target!)

The shop in Southsea, Portsmouth currently doesn’t have much in the windows and I think if they are going to get local volunteers this is a must. The footfall past the shop is huge and there is nothing telling people they are needed, there’s less chance of people volunteering if they don’t know we need volunteers! As well as this there are so many different ways to get more local volunteers that are free!

Twitter being one of them, the online town crier.  The best thing about raising awareness using Twitter is it allows you to hone in on a specific location or find people that are discussing similar topics to what you are promoting, through their advanced search you can find out who is saying what about volunteering or charity work in the Portsmouth area by using just a few key words. By tweeting Portsmouth news, The Galleon, Portsmouth Tweet and other such accounts the message that Oxfam are looking for just 4 hours of a volunteer’s time a week will reach so many more people. The use of social media on even a local scale allows small charities or companies to have a bigger presence. There are loads of helpful sites to help them find the right kind of people to volunteer including followerwonk and sproutsocial to name a few.

And just to cover the footfall past and in the shop I might whack a black board out the front and try some good old fashioned customer service. No harm in asking!

Any ideas about how Oxfam can gain more volunteers will be most welcome!

Do you want to volunteer at Oxfam Southsea? then email or call 023 92 817131


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