Skilled Volunteering Under Resourced and Not Understood - Report
15 December 2011 at 9:53 am
The skilled volunteering sector in Victoria is under resourced to meet the growing demands and increasing expectations from government, community agencies and charities, employers, the community at large and individuals wishing to make a skilled contribution, according to a new report.
The report called ‘How Victoria’s skilled volunteer providers can maximise their impact in the Not for Profit sector’ brings together the available evidence gathered for the Greatconnections Skilled Volunteering Sector Building Capacity Project conducted by Davidson Consulting.
Both qualitative and quantative data was collected from Volunteers, Not for Profit organisations, Agencies and online research.
Greatconnections CEO Suzanne Teese says there is a documented need for a robust, professional and vibrant skilled volunteer sector.
“The contribution of the sector is understood and valued by those who have been involved but is a mystery to much of the community. This severely limits the reach and impact of the sector and inhibits the potential to contribute more significantly to building a strong, responsive and cohesive Victorian community.”
The report says that thousands of under resourced Not for Profit organisations require access to skills and experience and there are many thousands of citizens who are equipped with the skills and experience required and who have a desire to contribute or ‘give back’ for a range of reasons.
It says the skilled volunteering agencies who are positioned to broker these potential connections need to be better resourced, have quality processes, training and systems in place and to be able to report on their combined social and economic impact.
“As a sector the agencies have demonstrated that they are able to work cooperatively and collaboratively understanding that economies of scale, shared knowledge and joint efforts will help them to efficiently and effectively achieve their goals,” said Teese.
“Each agency must find its own space in the sector and promote its point of difference or unique qualities to ensure that volunteers and clients can exercise choice.”
The report says the research project has only laid the base for more substantial work to come. It has identified some key directions and pieces of work to be undertaken by the sector.
“Perhaps the most important of these is to obtain some funds to promote the work of the sector and to establish the evidence base and some core information and training resources,” said Teese.
The report says volunteers really need to understand how the Not for Profit sector works and the limited funds available and the consequences this has on organisational structure. There is need for patience as people within these community organisations have a lot of skills to offer and whilst they may not be the management skills needed they can learn the necessary skills given the time, direction and good facilitation from the volunteer.
The report’s highlights include:
- Emerging technology is providing new opportunities for volunteering to overcome time, geographic and physical limitations.
- An ageing population and changing patterns of volunteering pose an additional challenge for organisations to recruit and retain volunteers.
- The published literature together with the online research, interviews and consultations reinforces what those active in the sector already know. Volunteering and in this case skilled volunteering is a complex business.
- The focus group session and subsequent discussions with skilled volunteering agency staff members identified several areas where there could be sector wide action for shared benefit.
- There are generally four different types of services provided by each of the bodies/agencies in Victoria: general volunteer support, specialised skills/services, matching (organisations with volunteers and volunteers with organisations), and forum (online discussions, resources, etc).
- From a sector perspective there are numerous practical and achievable changes that can be implemented that would strengthen and build the capacity and effectiveness of the skilled volunteering sector.
- The skilled volunteering sector is relatively young and certainly under resourced to meet the growing demands and increasing expectations from government, community agencies and charities, employers, the community at large and individuals wishing to make a skilled contribution.
- Both the volunteers and the NFPs interviewed commented on lack of training especially around the cultural background of the organisations.
The NFPs and the volunteers who were interviewed all agreed that there should be a standard quality assurance procedure in place. There needs to be ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the standards with successful outcomes.
- Download the report here.
Pro Bono Australia runs VolunteerMatch – a service which matches skilled volunteers with Australian Not for Profit organisations needing assitance. Click here to visit https://probonoaustralia.com.au/volunteer