Report on the Information Needs of Volunteer-Based Organisations
10 March 2010 at 2:45 pm
Volunteer-based organisations typically use the Web to find resources and information but they go to many different websites to get what they need, according to a Victorian Government survey.
The report summarises the findings of the Victorian Government’s online survey to investigate the information needs of volunteer-based organisations.
The survey is part of the research and requirements phase of the Volunteering and Participation Portal project being undertaken by the Community Programs unit in the Department of Planning and Community Development.
The website aims to support volunteers and volunteer-based organisations with a suite of information and collaborative tools that will consolidate and reference existing web resources and fill any gaps in the quality, breadth and consistency of information and tools already on offer.
The survey asked respondents for feedback on their priorities for the topics and types of information that would help them to:
- Attract and retain volunteers
- Manage their organisation on a day-to-day basis
- Develop and grow their organisation
- Share ideas, knowledge and resources with other organisations
There were 139 respondents to the survey, representing small, medium and large volunteer-based organisations across rural, regional and metropolitan Victoria.
Key survey findings include:
- Priority needs for information are centred on the volunteer-specific tasks in an organisation e.g. attracting, recruiting, supporting, coordinating, retaining and rewarding volunteers. In the area of day-to-day management of an organisation, management, strategic planning, communications and marketing were the priority topics. Of the volunteer-specific tasks and issues, priority information needs included mentoring, training, supervising and rewarding volunteers, planning programs and volunteer roles. Respondents were also looking for commonly used document templates and samples that they could reuse for their specific purposes.
- Respondents indicated that volunteers would be most interested in finding out about the benefits of volunteering, the rights and responsibilities of volunteers, what training opportunities were available and where they could find out about volunteering opportunities. They also saw providing information specifically for people new to volunteering as a priority.
- Video and audio content was not a high priority and many rural and regional respondents indicated that accessing this kind of content is problematic because of bandwidth and technology issues. Respondents indicated that training-focused video or audio would be most useful and that people with non-English backgrounds would most benefit from this medium.
- A quarter of respondents indicated that they would be happy to contribute sample documents, templates, tools or case studies. A further 40 percent indicated that they ‘might’ have resources to contribute. Of those who wished to contribute, respondents offered a range of resources across all key topics.
The report acknowledges that a few organisations remain sceptical as to the relevance of the portal to the volunteering community and have concerns that a new portal will be duplicating the good work of existing websites and web resources.
The Department says the portal will aggregate and link to the quality content that already exists on many different websites saving users time, effort and energy in finding the information that they seek and driving traffic to these existing resources.
It says the true value of the portal will be the ability for users to access information, share ideas, collaborate with others and grow the combined knowledge base of the entire volunteering community.
The Department says it is looking at launching the first phase of the website to coincide with National Volunteer Week in mid-May.
To download the survey summary from Volunteering Victoria’s website: www.volunteeringvictoria.org.au