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September 19, 2016

What is the Olympics Legacy for the Volunteering sector?

Higher education facilities across the world study the impact of the Olympics on local volunteering efforts

2010 Sydney Olympic Volunteers at 10 year reunion. Courtesy of media.olympics.org.au

2010 Sydney Olympic Volunteers at 10-year reunion. Courtesy of media.olympics.org.au

The Centre for Volunteering was pleased to take part in research by William Angliss Institute, Curtin University,  Bournemouth University and Victoria University of Wellington. These institutions combined forces to examine how Olympic volunteer programmes have impacted on volunteer programs in their host cities. the study focused on the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.

The study took into consideration existing information but also the feedback of 27 people who were involved in the Olympics – 11 from Sydney and 16 from London.

What were the findings?

The study showed some commonalities between the Sydney and London Olympics and highlighted how through the successful engagement of the volunteering sector, can help create a sustained legacy in volunteer participation.  The findings also included:

  • The profile of volunteering was raised as a result of the publicity generated during both Olympic Games.
  • In Sydney, Games volunteering broadened the scope of volunteering in people’s minds, encouraging them to participate in episodic and event volunteering.
  • In contrast, in London, volunteering during Games time led to uneven profiling of select forms of volunteering. Sports and events were the primary beneficiaries of any legacy.
    2012 London Olympic Volunteers

    2012 London Olympic Volunteers

  • The two sectors in Sydney that leveraged off the Sydney Games to create legacies were universities in NSW and the volunteering sector.
  • There was an assumption at both Games that the feel-good effects of volunteering would lead to continued volunteer involvement through the self-directed initiative of the volunteers.
  • However, there was a lack of mechanisms available to deliver enthusiastic Sydney and London Games volunteers to suitable roles.
  • Both the London and Sydney interviewees emphasised the importance of identifying funding sources to resource legacy initiatives.
  • It was noted that while funding was required to run legacy programmes, it was hard to obtain after the Games, thereby highlighting the importance of securing dedicated budgets for legacy initiatives upfront

For the complete report, you can download it here.