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NFPs Struggling to Get Volunteers

7 April 2016 at 1:32 am
Lina Caneva
A new report has found that 86 per cent of volunteer involving organisations are struggling to get the numbers they need they need, with volunteers deterred by factors such as personal expense, red tape and a lack of flexibility.

Lina Caneva | 7 April 2016 at 1:32 am


NFPs Struggling to Get Volunteers
7 April 2016 at 1:32 am

A new report has found that 86 per cent of volunteer involving organisations are struggling to get the numbers they need they need, with volunteers deterred by factors such as personal expense, red tape and a lack of flexibility.

The 2016 State of Volunteering in Australia report was launched by Volunteering Australia at the National Volunteering Conference in Canberra on Wednesday.

Compiled by Volunteering Australia with the assistance of PwC, it analyses the findings from a national survey of 2,304 volunteers, volunteer involving organisations and for the first time corporates.

The report found that while 86 per cent of volunteer involving organisations say they need more volunteers, they face the following obstacles with 30 per cent saying they were not able to engage the optimal amount because there were not enough suitable candidates or there was no means of locating them.

Other factors included internal barriers such as time constraints (12 per cent) and limitations stemming from an inadequate funding base (12 per cent).

Fifty-one per cent of organisations do not have the resources to recruit or engage volunteers with barriers.

The report said that the biggest barrier to people volunteering into the future was work commitments and out-of-pocket expenses incurred through volunteering

“The most important forms of support for volunteer involving organisations into the future is information and training around volunteer management, networking with other organisations and the ability to connect with volunteer management experts,” the report said.


“The primary aim of the report is to capture important details of the trends, demographics, challenges and successes of volunteering and civic participation – critical to the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of Australia and Australians,” CEO of Volunteering Australia,  Brett Williamson OAM said.

“This report takes on special significance given recent ABS figures stating that the rates of formal volunteering have declined for the first time in 20 years. Now is the time for the government, corporates and volunteering sector to invest in the future of volunteering by being innovative in the ways we attract and support volunteers.

“Whilst the report’s findings are generally encouraging, with 99 per cent of current volunteers indicating they intend to continue to volunteer in the future, the downside is that 86 per cent of volunteer involving organisations state that they need more volunteers and resources.

“The evidence also suggests that people are deterred from volunteering because of the lack of flexibility, personal expenses and red-tape burdens.”

In 2015 Volunteering Australia announced a new contemporary and inclusive definition of volunteering: “Volunteering is time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain.”

In light of this new definition, the State of Volunteering in Australia report investigated informal volunteering for the first time.

“46 per cent of respondents have undertaken informal volunteering, predominantly by taking care of someone in the community. These grassroots connections between people are essential to our civil society – one finding has suggested that we should look at creating a platform where people can connect to help each other in informal ways,” Williamson said

“The findings of this report will strategically influence the work of Volunteering Australia and its State and Territory peaks, to future-proof the volunteering sector.”

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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One comment

  • David Weston says:

    As the honourary secretary of a small NFP childrens charity that relies of local government funding for core operations my colleagues on the committee face another obstacle to volunteering; the preference of government officials to contract larger NFP groups to deliver services rather than community connected small NFP. The approach from officers in local government is at best patronising and at times outrightly hostile when we seek to lobby for support from elected representatives. To add insult these officers that promote their councils as the embodiment of supporting volunteering don’t acknowledge what they are doing even when presented with evidence. The chair of our committee would gladly walk if we were not committed to the outcomes we achieve with the children. When there is neither an agreed mutual purpose or mutual respect how can we achieve true dialogue?

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