IGP Stories

Can volunteering make a difference for our people, planet and prosperity?

Amanda Kartikasari

30 April 2024

For Laura Dempsey, founder of Volunteers for Future, volunteering is a powerful way to contribute to society while also benefiting personally.

“It (volunteering) can be an opportunity to use your time, experience and expertise for the greater good, with a chance to receive reciprocal benefits such as skills and knowledge development, personal satisfaction from supporting a cause you care about or support at the start or switch of your career.”

This ethos led her to firmly believe in the pivotal role that charities and non-profits play in facilitating and promoting volunteering opportunities, making them accessible and appealing to all.

At the same time, Laura couldn't ignore the glaring gap in the education system, particularly in preparing young minds for the challenges of an uncertain future shaped by climate change. Recognizing the deficiency in the current curriculum, especially regarding crucial skills like environmental awareness, social justice, and sustainable design, she realized the potential for volunteering programs to bridge this educational void.

Collaboration, Education & Innovation: For a better world

Laura envisioned a dynamic platform where students could learn important "green skills" and make a real difference in important causes. To turn this vision into reality, she founded Volunteers for Future, which aims to tackle the problem of inadequate green skills education and bridge the gap in our education system.

Through this social enterprise, Laura and her team, along with a community of volunteers, facilitate workshops and programs in schools. These activities inspire and empower young people to take climate action in their schools, homes, and communities. Since its launch in early 2020, Volunteers for Future has reached over 15,000 young people.

Creating an innovative and sustainable business model

As a forward-thinking entrepreneur, Laura recognizes the immense potential of young people in shaping the future. Her vision aligns seamlessly with the principles of Fast Forward 2030, which advocates for innovative and sustainable approaches in businesses and serves as a global platform for impact-driven entrepreneurs dedicated to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), fostering collaboration to drive collective action.

Volunteers for Future actively supports SDG 17 Partnership for the Goal and SDG 4 Quality Education by creating an educational ecosystem that engages stakeholders from private and public sectors to conservation and climate groups. Additionally, the organization contributes to SDG 9 Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG 13 Climate Action, SDG 14 Life Below Water, and SDG 15 Life on Land through initiatives like the Young Green Briton Challenge.

Aimed at youth aged 11 to 14, the challenge empowers young innovators to address climate change locally and provides seed funding and mentoring for promising climate solution ideas, fostering a generation of proactive changemakers equipped to tackle the pressing issues of tomorrow.

Strategically progressing and measuring impact

Is Laura's goal of reaching a million young people in the UK by 2030 too ambitious? Not with her solid plan to achieve it.

Purpose-driven entrepreneurs often face difficulties in creating a financially sustainable business model. However, Laura's approach of collaborating with prominent sustainability-focused organizations provides her non-profit venture with an opportunity not only to generate resources for supporting its operations and achieving impact but also to jointly design and execute programmes for young people.

Being impact-led, she measures the impact of her initiatives through her beneficiaries and collaborators from all aspects that matter.

“We directly ask for students’ feedback at different stages of the programme, and we measure the difference in their responses at the beginning and at the end.

What knowledge have they gained? How do they feel emotionally? What actions will they take as a result? We very much follow the ‘think, feel, do’ analogy.

We also ask teachers and volunteers for feedback on their observations because they’re in the schools running and observing the programmes”

Read their most recent impact report from the Young Green Britain Challenge here (delivered in partnership with The Green Britain Foundation, Social Innovation for All and Ministry of Eco Education) or watch the video here.

If you would like to get involved or explore partnership opportunities please contact laura@volunteersforfuture.org

Amanda Kartikasari serves as a Global Project Coordinator at Fast Forward 2030, holding a Master’s in Prosperity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship from UCL. Passionate about entrepreneurial ecosystems and business sustainability management, Amanda provides support to impact-driven entrepreneurs worldwide who are striving towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through her current role.

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