Corporate Volunteering “Untapped” – Report on National Survey on Volunteering Issues
Thursday, 1st March 2012 at 8:56 am
Corporate volunteering is not being fully tapped, despite Not for Profit organisations and companies being able to see its value, according to Volunteering Australia’s National Survey of Volunteering Issues 2011.
Volunteering Australia has released the full 2011 Report three months after its preliminary findings were revealed during International Volunteer Day in December, 2011.
The report says companies continue to make an important contribution to volunteering by supporting volunteering by their employees. But the survey found the involvement of corporate employees has not been fully tapped, despite Not for Profit organisations and companies being able to see its value.
The survey looked at the success or otherwise of employee volunteering from the perspective of each sector.
It found that there is a difference in the preferred way of working with each other that may need to be reconciled the Not for Profit sector’s general preference is for developing long-term relationships with companies, whilst many companies have a preference for a combination of short and long-term partnerships with more than one NFP organisation.
Both Not for Profit organisations and companies identified the importance of having internal resources dedicated to volunteering effort and its coordination and management.
It says a component for volunteering is included in the majority, but not all organisations’ budget. The majority of companies do not have a staff member dedicated to volunteer management.
The 2011 survey findings reaffirm the contribution volunteering makes to social inclusion in Australia. Volunteers in Australia most commonly volunteer because of the difference they make to the community and the sense of purpose their volunteering gives them.
It also found the experience of volunteering is satisfying for the majority of those who have become involved.
The majority of volunteers reported being aware of policies and protections their organisation had in place to ensure their well being and safety and experiencing positive relationships between employees and volunteers.
Reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses continues to be barrier for a significant proportion of volunteers.
Training for volunteers and managers of volunteers was one of three top priorities in need of the most urgent action for organisational respondents. It was also the most frequently mentioned of three top priorities identified by volunteers to ensure their protection, alongside safe working environments and adequate insurance cover.
The survey found that excellence in management and leadership was also one of top three priorities of organisational respondents. The features of leadership in volunteering they cited most frequently were building capacity in others to contribute to a vision and encouraging new ways of looking at things.
It found a significant proportion of organisations are encouraging new ways of doing things, most commonly through greater flexibility in how volunteer opportunities are offered. Some organisational respondents said that they do not have the capacity to do this.
Virtual volunteering through social media or from home remains the least common method organisational respondents reported adopting to involve volunteers. At the same time, it was suggested by volunteers and organisations as a way to improve access to training for volunteers and managers of volunteers.
In 2010, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 36% of the adult population (6.1 million people) volunteer. The estimated number of volunteers in Australia has doubled from 1995 to 2010.
In the past 5 years, Volunteering Australia has conducted the National Survey of Volunteering Issues.
VA says that in 2011, it placed greater emphasis on identifying priorities and suggested solutions, learning about what works best for volunteers, volunteer-involving organisations and companies, and the success factors.
Here’s a snapshot of the survey findings:
- The volunteering experience has been satisfying for 9 out of 10 volunteer respondents. Most commonly they volunteer because of the difference they make to the community and the sense of purpose their volunteering gives them.
- How and when people are able to volunteer is affected by a range of personal circumstances and organisational factors.
- Family and work commitments were the most frequently mentioned personal circumstances 59.3% and 52% respectively. Health issues and or disability temporary or long-term were relevant for 13.6% and 5.8% of volunteer respondents.
- When asked to choose the three most important things that are important to continue volunteering in the future, the availability of volunteer work that matches their interest and/or skills was most frequently ranked in the top 3 priorities by volunteers.
- Whilst the preferred ways of volunteering are changing, regularly volunteering in the same organisation was the most commonly preferred way of volunteering in the future cited by 75% of volunteer respondents.
- The majority of volunteer respondents reported being aware of policies and protections their organisations had in place to ensure their well being and safety.
- The majority also reported experiencing positive relationships between employees and volunteers, with only 10% describing the overall relationship as poor or very poor.
- Almost half of volunteer respondents were reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses, in full or in part, and a quarter had not.
- The remaining 25% said they had not incurred out-of-pocket expenses.
- The survey highlights the importance of access to training and education to enable volunteers and managers/coordinators of volunteers to further develop skills.
- Whilst 80% of volunteer respondents said the training they had received gave them the necessary skills for their role, 20% also reported they had difficulty accessing training they need.
- Training for volunteers and managers of volunteers was one of the top 3 priorities requiring urgent action most frequently mentioned by organisational respondents.
- Volunteers most frequently mentioned safe working environments, adequate insurance cover and training when asked to prioritise the top 3 issues in need of most urgent attention to ensure their protection.
- More volunteers are getting involved and more are needed.
- The majority of organisational respondents said their organisation needs more volunteers.
- Volunteer-involving organisations are introducing new ways of offering volunteering, with greater flexibility being the most common.
- Of those who did not introduce new ways of offering volunteering, approximately 29% either didn’t have the capacity to do so, or it is not possible given their activities.
- Virtual volunteering through social media or from home remains the least common way.
- The development of long-term relationships with companies was most frequently cited by Not for Profit and government organisations as most important to the success of involving corporate employee volunteering.
- The majority of company respondents said they prefer to work with Not for Profit organisatons through a combination of short and long-term partnerships with more than one Not for Profit.
- Partners having shared goals and mutual benefit, access to suitable volunteering opportunities and dedicated resources in the company were most frequently cited by companies as most important to the success of their employee volunteering program.
- The majority of companies agreed with the statement that most NFP organisations with whom they have had contact know how to work effectively with the corporate sector.
- The majority of organisational respondents said a component for volunteering is included in their organisations budget. Outcomes for volunteering were specified in funding contracts with Federal or State governments in a small proportion of cases – 12.1% and 15.5% respectively.
- When asked about the features of leadership in volunteering they had seen demonstrated, organisations most frequently cited building capacity in others to contribute to a vision and encouraging new paradigms/ways of looking at things.
Download the full report here (PDF).