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Challenges Youths Could Encounter as a Volunteer

Are you a youth who desire to volunteer for organizations? This article contains information on challenges you could encounter as a Volunteer.

Challenges Youths Could Encounter As A Volunteer
Youths encounter a series of challenge a volunteers.


We are in an era where rendering free service in exchange to gain access to, learn from a higher authority, gain more visibility or network with industry experts is the common trend. Since a lot of youths have come to understand that volunteering is the easiest way to get access to their mentors, role models and dream organizations, many volunteers are willing to go out of their way to serve, regardless of the challenges involved. Sometimes, many of these naive and unsuspecting Youths are being taken advantage of.

In this article, we will be exploring the challenges youths are bound to encounter as volunteers [1], but before we proceed, let’s get a clear understanding of what Volunteering entails.

What is Volunteering?

Volunteering [3] is the voluntary act of providing help or a service to a person or organization for no financial gain. The person who offers their time is a Volunteer.

There are numerous benefits of volunteering [2]. As a young person, it allows you to express and explore in your field, build career skills, engage and make industry contacts while gaining hands-on work experience.

9 Challenges Youths Could Encounter as a Volunteer

Although volunteering can be a highly rewarding experience for young people as seen above, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Here are some comprehensive insights into the challenges youths could encounter as volunteers:

1. Time Consumption

Volunteer work can be very challenging in the area of time consumption, particularly when it involves an organization with poor Volunteer management. Balancing volunteer work with other commitments such as school, work, or social life can be challenging. Young volunteers may struggle to manage their time effectively.

Volunteering can sometimes conflict with study time or extracurricular activities that youths view as more important. In such cases, their grades in school may be affected as a result of little or no time to focus on school work.

2. Lack of Resources/Financial Constraints

In some poorly managed organizations, volunteers are provided with little or nothing to work with. Cases like this will require volunteers to cover their own expenses, such as transportation or accommodation or Internet Subscription. For young people on a tight budget, this can be a significant barrier. For some, in the bid to show they are capable and willing to serve, may stress to provide these resources which only leaves them indebted. The fact that Volunteering is a free service is not a yardstick to expose Young Volunteers who are probably struggling to financial strain.

3. Emotional Toll

Volunteering, especially in roles that involve working with vulnerable populations or in crisis situations, can be emotionally taxing. Witnessing suffering or not being able to make a significant impact can lead to burnout or emotional stress.

4. Lack of Support

Besides the financial provision, not all volunteer programs provide adequate support or training for young participants. For youths who may lack the skills and experience required for certain volunteer roles, feeling unsupported can be discouraging. This can lead to potential feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem.

5. Bureaucracy

Bureaucratic challenges can be a significant hurdle for young volunteers. When participating in volunteer programs, especially those run by large organizations or government agencies, volunteers may encounter complex administrative processes and paperwork that may be frustrating. These bureaucratic hurdles can include:

i. Lengthy application procedures:

Volunteers may have to fill out extensive application forms, provide various documents, and go through background checks. This can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially for young people eager to start volunteering.

ii. Training and orientation:

While training is essential, some programs may have excessively long or tedious training processes that volunteers must complete before they can begin their actual work. This sometimes may involve commuting, which requires spending on transportation.

iii. Communication challenges

Dealing with multiple layers of communication and approval processes can slow down decision-making and hinder volunteers from taking initiative.

6. Peer Pressure

Peer pressure can have a significant impact on young volunteers, as it may come from friends, family members, or even colleagues who don’t understand or appreciate the value of volunteering.

Friends or family who don’t grasp the importance of volunteering may discourage young volunteers, believing their time would be better spent on other activities or work that pays them.

Also, young volunteers may struggle to balance their volunteer commitments with their social lives, leading to conflicts with friends who don’t share the same passion for volunteering.

7. Impact Assessment

Assessing the impact of volunteer work can be challenging, and this is particularly true for young volunteers who may be new to the field. It can be difficult to measure the tangible impact of volunteer work, which may lead to feelings of ineffectiveness or doubt about the value of their contributions.

8. Safety Challenges

Safety challenges are a critical consideration in volunteer work, as they encompass a range of potential risks and hazards that young volunteers may encounter. Ensuring the safety of volunteers is paramount for both the volunteers themselves and the organizations they work with. Here are some key aspects of safety challenges in volunteering:

i. Risk Assessment

Before embarking on volunteer activities, it’s essential to assess the potential risks involved. These risks can vary widely depending on the nature of the volunteer work. For instance, volunteers in disaster relief or sites may face physical dangers, while those working with vulnerable populations might encounter emotional challenges. Sometimes, these risks may not be assessed and proper safety orientation given to volunteers, thereby endangering the lives of the youths who may also have limited experience in assessing the potential risks associated with their volunteer roles.

ii. Transportation and Travel Safety

For volunteers involved in projects that require travel, transportation safety is paramount. Young volunteers, especially those who may be less experienced with international or remote travel, should receive guidance on safe travel practices and potential risks but when that is not done, it endangers these young volunteers.

To address safety challenges effectively, organizations should prioritize the safety of their volunteers by providing comprehensive safety training, risk assessments, and appropriate resources. Volunteers, in turn, should remain vigilant, follow safety protocols, and communicate openly with their organizations about any safety concerns they encounter during their service.

9. Long-Term Commitment

Long-term commitment is a significant challenge that many volunteers, including young individuals, encounter when engaging in volunteer work. This challenge arises from the nature of volunteerism, which often requires sustained dedication over an extended period. Here are key aspects to consider:

i. Changing priorities

Young people often experience life transitions and changing priorities as they pursue education, career opportunities, or personal goals. Committing to volunteer work for an extended period may clash with these evolving life circumstances.

ii. Lack of variety

Long-term volunteer positions may focus on specific tasks or roles, potentially limiting the variety of experiences young volunteers can gain. This can lead to boredom or a sense of stagnation.

iii. Burnout risk

Sustaining enthusiasm and energy for volunteer work over the long term can be challenging. Volunteers may experience burnout due to the continuous demand on their time and emotional energy.

iv. Financial implications

Depending on the volunteer opportunity, youths may face financial challenges when committing to long-term service. For instance, if the position is unpaid or located in a distant area, covering living expenses can be a burden and this may cause the volunteer to lose interest in volunteering, subsequently.


Serving with your skills as a youth is awesome as it has a lot of benefits ranging from career to personal development. However, it is important for you to be aware of the challenges you could encounter as a Volunteer. Some of these challenges range from time consumption, lack of resources, insecurity, burnout and lots more.

Navigating these challenges requires young volunteers to be well-informed, seek guidance and support from experienced mentors or organizations, and prioritize their safety and well-being while making a positive impact on the communities they serve.

Overcoming these obstacles often leads to increased resilience, adaptability, and a deeper understanding of the world. It’s essential for young volunteers to seek support and mentorship when facing these difficulties and to choose volunteer opportunities that align with their skills, interests, and values.


[1] “Discuss Two Challenges the Youth Encounter as Volunteers.” My Courses, 11 Aug. 2023, https://mycourses.co.za/discuss-two-challenges-the-youth-encounter-as-volunteers/.

[2] Segal, Jeanne, and Lawrence Robinson. Volunteering and Its Surprising Benefits – Helpguide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/volunteering-and-its-surprising-benefits.htm. Accessed 21 Sept. 2023.

[3] Turk, Brianne. “Volunteer Work: What It Is and How to Find It.” Prosple Australia/GradAustralia, 18 Aug. 2019, https://au.prosple.com/career-planning/volunteer-work-what-it-is-and-how-to-find-it.

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