Discovery Insights Report for the National Strategy for Volunteering project

  • by Maria Lopez
  • August 14, 2022

Volunteering Australia has been consulting stakeholders to assist them to form their vision for the National Strategy for Volunteering in Australia. This project has past the discovery phase and it is currently on the visioning phase.

The PCNSW Volunteer Support Services Programme had the opportunity to participate and contribute ideas as a member of the Leaders of Health Volunteer Engagement (LOHVE) Network who were invited to participate in a focus group with the project lead. The group made clear their strong feelings about how important a Volunteer Manager is to running a successful service and how so often this role is undervalued and misunderstood within organisations.

Volunteering Australia have now released an early report highlighting the insights gleaned from the discovery phase of the project. The Discovery Insights Report summarises the challenges facing volunteering as identified by stakeholders and suggestions for overcoming them.

During the discovery phase many stakeholders recognised volunteering as a vital workforce issue. The wide spectrum of volunteering means that much activity, including leisure volunteering, is not seen as ‘work’ by some volunteers but rather just “helping out”. This contributes to a volunteering identity crisis.

The report’s main findings:

• Volunteering has an identity crisis
• Volunteering is a workforce issue
• Volunteering is an incubator for inclusion
• The profession of volunteer management is invisible
• Volunteering is a catalyst for systemic change
• Expectations of the volunteering ecosystem are becoming untenable
• The ecosystem needs stronger leadership
• Strategic investment is a prerequisite for sustainability
• The ecosystem needs fit-for-purpose regulation
• Volunteering is a wide spectrum of activities
• We need to re-focus on the volunteer experience
• Research needs to underpin volunteering policy and practice

The report suggests there is an opportunity to improve public consciousness around volunteering through storytelling. There is such a diversity of volunteer roles. People should be encouraged to speak about what volunteering means to them and how their contribution helps others in society, acknowledging the collective impact of volunteering around Australia.

Volunteering and its benefits, should be recognised on the national stage and included in national policy decisions. Doing so would put volunteering in a stronger position.

Volunteering Australia Discovery Insights Report

With regards to Volunteer Managers the report establishes that, “Managers and Coordinators of Volunteers are the lynch pin of effective and impactful volunteer involvement, but the profession is under-recognised, under-valued, and under-resourced.”

That this profession is not recognised as a legitimate career is not news to Volunteer Managers who have been struggling for recognition for years. Managers know it requires a level of expertise and skills to be able to build relationships, recruit the appropriate volunteers for each role, provide training and support and more.

The work is very challenging but very rewarding too. Contributors said that “volunteer management is a rewarding and enriching career that sparks joy and provides daily meaning and purpose.” Certainly their contribution goes over and beyond their workplace creating ripple effects in the community; hence the importance of their role.

The report notes that “The National Strategy for Volunteering could reposition volunteer management and coordination as a critical part of the volunteering ecosystem”. A possibility for volunteer management to be widely regarded as an occupation, backed by formal, professional accreditation and standards could be a great start to reposition it as a critical centrepiece of the volunteering ecosystem.

Volunteering Australia Discovery Insights Report

The report also states that “strong, purposeful, and collaborative leadership” is needed “at every level” of the volunteering sector as it navigates the post-COVID future. Crucially, to help the volunteering ecosystem grow investment in funding is needed.

This report focuses on every single aspect of the above findings, with insights, suggestions and possible solutions to those challenges.

Read the Insights Report, download it here: National-Strategy-for-Volunteering-Discovery-Insights-Report

It is not too late to share your views on the current state of volunteering and your ideas for the future. If you would like to participate in an open submission please click HERE.

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