Matching People to Voluntary Opportunities

27 May 2016 | Articles

Matching People to Voluntary Opportunities

Having read the latest State of Volunteering in Australia report I was interested in this Key Finding:

"Responses suggest there is a disconnect between the volunteering roles that people are interested in and the roles that organisations are offering.

Comments from volunteer involving organisations highlight that, generally, many involve volunteers as manpower as opposed to developing volunteer roles to suit individual skills and experience.

‘Lack of utilisation of volunteer skills is a big problem, possibly due to a store manager not being chosen for her expertise in management.’

Moreover, several respondents to the survey for volunteers felt that volunteers were undervalued and their roles were not designed strategically to accommodate for skills and interests, especially relative to paid staff.

‘Despite rhetoric that the contribution of volunteers is valued equally with contributions of paid staff there are still many organisations who treat volunteers as individuals who will do all the tasks staff do not want to do.’

‘In my experience, both complacency and ignorance of the enormous value volunteers contribute results in a lack of regard of volunteers as strategic assets.’" - State of Volunteering in Australia, 2016

As a Volunteer Centre, we too are seeing the disconnect between what volunteers want to do and how they want to contribute with the types of voluntary roles that are being offered by NGOs.

How, as an NGO, do we ensure that the passion and commitment people want to contribute with is enabled, nurtured and welcomed?

It’s about ‘supply’ i.e. what the volunteers want to do and what they bring to the organisation, and ‘demand’ i.e. what the NGO organisations are offering as opportunities. Volunteer characteristics, motivations, interests and constraints presents a given which organisations must accommodate but over which they may have relatively little control.

The word ‘meaningful’ is often associated with ‘volunteering’ and this is where we need to be when developing voluntary opportunities - ensuring that NGOs are really offering ‘meaningful’ opportunities that fits with today’s volunteers with flexibility, interests and skills of the volunteers being taken into account. All this while at the same time ensuring that the organisation is getting what they need to deliver on their services through voluntary support.

Cheryll Martin
General Manager
Volunteering Auckland


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