Volunteer groups tap into ‘elixir of youth’ in WA after social media rebrand


As the number of volunteers declines in Western Australia, the organization representing non-profits decided it needed to act quickly to get rid of the sector’s ‘daggy’ vibes in order to survive.

Keen to attract young people over the age of 20 and better understand their hesitations, Volunteering WA took the unusual step of bringing in a marketing agency to kick-start the industry’s overhaul.

“We found that our target demographic viewed traditional volunteering as a godly, selfless exercise,” said Mike Drysdale, head of creative content strategy at marketing agency Lush.

“It was daunting, the moralization of volunteering made the act of getting involved and even worse, like the volunteers couldn’t get anything out of it themselves.

“Gen Z is often referred to as the caring generation, they care about the state of the world and, unlike older generations, they genuinely believe they can make a difference.


“So why the lack of interest in established volunteering opportunities?

“This campaign was designed to help young people feel safe to volunteer, free from judgment, comparison or the expectation that they should be a saint.”

To launch the campaign, the agency secured the support of two Perth-based youth organisations, Oli Clothing and swimming and mental health group Sunrise Cold Nips to tap into their networks of thousands of people on social media.

“These two local brands had already earned the trust and appreciation of our target market while exemplifying a philosophy of giving back,” Mr. Drysdale said.

“Not just erasing the stigma, but showcasing the joy-filled vibes that come from giving back and we’ve been thrilled with the results so far.”

Need young people

Volunteering WA chief executive Tina Williams said the campaign was “completely new ground” for the organization.

“And when COVID hit, about two-thirds of volunteer programs had to close.

Ryan Linton, Tina Williams and Jian Wong Yen of Cold Nips collaborated on the marketing campaign.(Provided: WA Volunteering)

“Then when things calmed down a bit and we got back to the new normal, we noticed there was a huge void in volunteering, and not everyone had come back, which left a great void.

“We knew the only way to start filling that void was to start attracting our younger generations.”

The new campaign which spans social media platforms like Instagram, Spotify and TikTok has had early signs of success with the target audience, around 80% of new sign-ups are among people between the ages of 23 and 28, and the majority are women.

Ms Williams said the campaign was the “elixir of youth” the sector needed.

“We work with about 750 organizations, and we’ve partnered with them to market their positions a little differently, so they appeal to young people and give them the opportunity to get in the water and try it out,” she said. said.

“We designed it in such a way that people can get involved with their friends through social volunteering, they can also improve their skills, where they can use or develop new skills.”

three women at the beach
Jessica Kate Flockhart says the campaign makes young people aware of the volunteer opportunities available.(Provided: WA Volunteering)

More than the greater good

Luke AJ, a member of the Cold Nips swim group, said the campaign is changing the image of volunteering in his cohort.

“You see volunteering getting this stigma of being dated, and that combines with [organisations] like Oli and Cold Nips, which have a strong brand image with young contemporaries,” he said.

Although it may seem selfish, emphasizing the benefits to the volunteer was simply more realistic.

Participant Jessica Kate Flockhart said the campaign raises awareness among young people of available volunteer opportunities.

group of volunteers gathering on the beach
Hundreds of young people from the Cold Nips group volunteered to pick fruit from seagrass to re-vegetate the seabed. (Provided: WA Volunteering)

“It’s so important to make it easier for people to find out about volunteering opportunities because people want to do more, and if people knew where they could find these things, they would show up, I really believe that,” said- she declared.

“What I love about volunteering is how you don’t know what to expect and [with Cold Nips] we were picking up seagrass fruits on the beach, and the idea that this small act on our part as a group could continue to help the ocean beds revegetate is so epic.

“I never would have known something had to happen if it hadn’t been for this collaboration.

“It’s about giving back in a way that builds community.”


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