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Effective Use of Volunteers-US Study

26 March 2004 at 12:03 pm
Staff Reporter
A US study says it has confirmed a disappointing trend that sees volunteers quitting Not for Profits because their time was not used effectively.

Staff Reporter | 26 March 2004 at 12:03 pm


Effective Use of Volunteers-US Study
26 March 2004 at 12:03 pm

A US study says it has confirmed a disappointing trend that sees volunteers quitting Not for Profits because their time was not used effectively.

The latest research, which is the first-ever national study of volunteer management at US Not for Profits involved detailed surveys of almost 1,800 organisations between August and September 2003.

The study found that more than 80 percent of NFP’s rely on volunteers for critical activities, but freely admit they do not have the resources or knowledge to engage and manage those volunteers as fully as they would like.

Five years ago, a survey commissioned by The UPS Foundation found that most people who stopped volunteering did so after concluding the organisations had failed to make good use of their time.

The latest study, sponsored by The UPS Foundation, the Corporation for National and Community Service and the USA Freedom Corps, focused on how Not for Profits recruit, engage and manage volunteers and what value volunteers add to social service programs.

The research found that many organisations need more volunteers to help deliver services and that volunteers greatly increase the quality and level of services while keeping costs reduced.

Evern Cooper, president of The UPS Foundation says organisations are using thousands of volunteers every day and making a huge impact however, volunteers aren’t free; it takes conscious effort and interest to engage them effectively.

Cooper says supporting effective volunteer recruitment and management has been a major focus of The UPS Foundation’s grant-making for more than six years.

The study found that few charities adopted volunteer management practices. However the best prepared and most effective volunteer programs are those with paid staff members who dedicate a substantial portion of their time to the management of volunteers.

It found that the most prominent challenge to implementing programs was recruiting volunteers during the workday. The study says groups should explore ways to create more flexible workdays for potential volunteers with regular jobs.

Locally, Volunteering Australia’s web site provides national standards on organising volunteers for effective management.

VA has also set up a project called the National Volunteer Skills Centre (NVSC) throughout Australia.

Project manager Graeme Dobson says the major reason for establishing the NVSC is to support improvements to training and learning currently available to Not for Profit organisations, volunteers and communities by increasing the availability of quality training resources.

The NVSC materials can be accessed free of charge via the web site at

Currently there are 24 Training Support Materials available on the NVSC web site.

Teams from RMIT University and TAFE Tasmania are currently working to complete development of another 28 resources.

Should you or any of your network require additional information or have any questions the NVSC Team can be contacted via its on-line inquiry form or by ringing on 1800 008 252.

If you would like an electronic copy of the key findings of the US study just send us an e-mail with the words US Volunteer Study in the subject line to

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