KUALA LUMPUR, December 5th 2012 -- Volunteering and activism have enjoyed a great deal of attention in Malaysia but as Generation Me has turned into Generation We, do the numbers match the perception?In conjunction with International Volunteer Day, Dec 5th, Do Something Good is releasing the results on the first survey of the state of volunteering in Malaysia called Volunteering in Malaysia: The Big Picture.
Do Something Good found that the total number of volunteers in Malaysia is small in comparison to the population size. For every 1,000 Malaysians, there are 7 registered volunteers. While the total number of registered volunteers in Malaysia is projected at about 135,000, it makes up less than 1% of the 20.5 million Malaysians aged above 15.
“We are seeing a surge of interest in volunteering but there is still much more to be done to make volunteering mainstream in our culture,” said Zahirah Md Yusoff, Project Lead for Do Something Good.
Volunteering in Malaysia: The Big Picture studied 17 of Malaysia’s top volunteering organisations and several online volunteering platforms to build a view of the state of volunteering in Malaysia. The survey focused on unpaid volunteers working with registered non-religious and non-political organisations.
Another key concern that emerged in the survey was the engagement level of volunteers. While the survey included 30,215 registered volunteers, it found that slightly less than 30% (8,856) of volunteers were actively engaged in volunteering with their organisations.
While many supported volunteering -- either through Facebook likes or by being registered as a volunteer -- only a fraction took the time to volunteer.
“Some might say this is a reflection of a culture of armchair activism, but I am more optimistic. I think the key point is creating volunteering opportunities that cater to people’s different levels of engagement,” says Kal Joffres, the technology developer behind Do Something Good. “Some might spend their Saturday feeding the needy at a soup kitchen. Others might volunteer their time building awareness using social media.”
However, the ability to manage volunteers at varying levels of engagement was reported as a major challenge for NGOs. Many resource-strapped NGOs found it difficult to involve people in their workflow without training them first and without people in their organisation dedicated to volunteer management. As a result, some organisations preferred to rely on a small group of dedicated volunteers rather than large, high-turnover groups of volunteers.
Do Something Good is an online volunteering platform that connects NGOs to volunteers. A community-driven initiative, it is also the official volunteering platform for Urbanscapes 2012, and is used by a number of Malaysia’s top volunteering organisations, such as Teach for Malaysia, Dignity For Children, and SPCA.
Expressing critical need for more work in building a culture of giving back, Youth & Sports Minister YB Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery notes, “Malaysia came in rather low in the World Giving Index where we are ranked 76th of 153 countries. Youths of our country would gain much from volunteering for the needy. We need a constantly evolving, interactive and engaging community-driven platform like DSG for the youth of our country to experience great volunteering opportunities and be more socially responsible. Who understands communities better than those who are on-the-ground themselves?”
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