National Survey of Volunteering Issues
6 December 2010 at 2:42 pm
People who volunteer feel an increased sense of belonging to their community, and a significant proportion of volunteers say volunteering provides pathways to paid employment, according to an Australian survey.
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The 2010 National Survey of Volunteering Issues, carried out by peak-body Volunteering Australia, found that 83% of volunteers say their work as a volunteer has increased their sense of belonging to their community.
The survey highlights the important role volunteering plays in providing opportunities for people to learn and gain skills useful for paid employment. 80% of respondents say their volunteering has provided them with opportunities to learn and 26% say training they have received as part of their voluntary work has helped them acquire an accreditation/qualification.
Nearly one in five (18%) respondents say they have gained skills useful for current or future paid employment.
The survey also found that volunteerism plays an important role in increasing social inclusion in Australian society. The survey found volunteering can help reduce feelings of personal isolation, offer people skills, social contacts, support a greater sense of self worth, and challenge the stereotypes about different social groups.
The survey found that volunteers feel they are making an important contribution with 60% of volunteers saying they ‘always’ feel their work makes a difference to the organisation they volunteer with and what it is trying to achieve. A further 37% said this was at least ‘sometimes’ the case.
The report says that the majority of volunteers want to participate in the decision making of organisations they work with, with only 8-15% of volunteers saying they are not interested in influencing the strategic direction of the organisation. A quarter of volunteers (25.1%) reported they either do not have any opportunity to participate in decision making and would like to, or have some opportunity but would like to have more.
The most common barriers to involving volunteers reported by organisations are the available supply of volunteers (28.5% of organisations) and limited organisational capacity (28.4% of organisations).
Nearly 30% of organisations say that new and different approaches to promoting volunteering would make the biggest difference to organisations, behind changes to the allocation of resources from funders and donors (44.8%)
While 70% of organisations say they provide voluntary Board and Committee members some sort of induction, only about half provide training in areas relating to the roles and responsibilities of Boards and Committees.
The areas volunteers and organisations said that Boards/Committee members need to increase their knowledge and skills were different.
- Volunteers: ‘legal compliance’, ‘risk management’ and ‘financial management/reporting’.
- CEOs/volunteer managers: ‘succession planning for retiring/resigning Board/Committee members’ and ‘Fundraising and/or marketing’.
NFP Improvement: Volunteers said Not for Profit organisations can improve in the following areas – volunteer appraisal/performance management processes, exit interview/feedback process; return to work procedures for sick/injured volunteers, confusion/conflict between the roles of volunteers and paid staff.
Recognition: Being accepted as a valuable team member was the most frequently mentioned form of recognition that volunteers said was most important to them feeling valued (38%), while a personal thank you was the form of recognition most organisations reported giving volunteers most often (69%).
Corporate/employee volunteering: The majority of Not for Profit organisations (51.3%) that responded had not been involved in corporate/employee volunteer program in the last 12 months. Of the 39% of NFP respondents have been involved in corporate/employee volunteer programs, around half reported that it was extremely valuable to their organisation, mainly due to the practical assistance provided to the organisation to undertake its tasks.
48.7% of NFPs who have been involved with a corporate/employee volunteer program say they need more resources to be able to involve and support corporate volunteers.
The National Survey of Volunteering Issues is conducted annually to identify issues and trends relating to volunteering in Australia.
The results of the survey, as well as other consultation and research, are used to inform Volunteering Australia’s work.
1320 people completed the online survey, which was open online for four weeks during October and November 2010.
Volunteering Australia says a full report of the findings will be published early in 2011, with supplementary White Papers released throughout 2011 as part of the International Year of Volunteers plus 10.
To download the full summary findings, visit www.volunteeringaustralia.org