NFPs ‘Flexible’ Towards Changing Needs of Volunteers
Monday, 30th July 2007 at 4:10 pm
The latest ABS Survey on volunteers reflects the increasing flexibility of Not for Profits in the light of the changing needs of volunteers according to Volunteering Australia.
Results from the latest ABS Voluntary Work, Australia survey show that the number of volunteers in Australia is at an all time high, with one in a third of Australians volunteering (34%) up from 32% in 2000.
But Volunteering Australia points out that whilst the number of people volunteering has increased, the number of hours volunteered appear to have decreased, with the median number of hours volunteered just 1.1hrs per week or 56 hrs per year.
Whilst some would see this as a negative, Volunteering Australia sees this as encouraging.
The new CEO of Volunteering Australia, Julie Pollard the figures reflect the increasingly flexible nature of the Not for Profit sector.
Pollard says volunteering is not about the number of hours you put in, it’s about giving what you feel you can.
She says these statistics suggest that the sector is responding to changes in society and making it possible for more people to volunteer than ever before, despite ever increasing demands on their time.
She says gone are 9-5 working days, and women staying at home. With around a 75% workplace participation rate, the internet and mobile communications enabling contact 24/7, there is less ‘free time’ than ever before, which undoubtedly contributes to our ability to volunteer.
The statistics, she says, would seem to back this up – those most likely to volunteer are Mums and Dads of school age children; some of our ‘busiest’ people.
Furthermore, Pollard says people who volunteer are more likely to be also providing “informal services to others” (such as caring for others with special needs, beyond the level of care usually called for in family life). 63% of volunteers are providing informal help to other people compared to 42% of non volunteers.
Pollard says it’s no wonder we’re volunteering less hours!
Ellen Boyd, State Commissioner for Guides Victoria says it is increasingly important to provide flexibility for volunteers so that they are able to balance their work, home and social lives.
Guides Victoria is developing a variety of volunteering opportunities and ways to support Guiding to spread the workload and attract more volunteers. In addition the organisation is using a project team approach for events to provide focused volunteering.
Boyd says it’s not about how long they are there – it’s about the contribution they can make.
She says too often potential volunteers feel that they have little to offer; that the time they can give is not enough for an organisation to benefit and that’s not the case.