In 2010 the Productivity Commission (PC) reported that on best estimates more than 5 million Australians volunteered in 2007, 88% of them with not for profit organisations, contributing over 135 million hours with an estimated value of $14.6 billion in a single year.

Around two thirds of those who volunteer do so with NFPs that have no employees – volunteers are their total workforce.

Increasing regulatory costs, the changing expectations of volunteers, and the general inability of most of the NFP sector to compete with the public and private sectors on wages and salaries all add to the challenges faced by leaders in this sector.

Because funding and donations are often directed at front line service delivery, there is a perception that money spent on training is wasteful and makes organisations appear less efficient.  PC 2010 p.273

Hardly surprising then that the PC also found that NFPs face particular difficulties investing in training and development for staff and that the absence of career paths linked to training can reduce the incentive for employees to invest in their own development.

Leadership development is an area where capacity building is critically important to the success and sustainability of NFPs, with the Australian Scholarship Foundation arguing that “improved leadership and management capability is the critical difference in creating effective and efficient NFPs.”

In 2016 the Forbes Nonprofit council identified the six key trends that are impacting the non profit world. One of these was taking on a coaching style of leadership, recognising that the days of the lone leader are past in the NFP sector just as they are in business or government.

The leader as coach recognises that the path to success is empowering and assisting others to deliver results and some of the key attributes of such a leader include self-awareness and the ability to lead inclusively. The more change an organisation or sector is facing, the more important these aspects of leadership become.

Leading for Purpose

The Centre for Volunteering is committed to leadership development and plays a key role in offering accessible training opportunities for its members.

Recognising that development involving new understandings and new behaviours doesn’t happen overnight, the Centre for Volunteering has partnering with Executive Central to offer members a six month program for current and emerging leaders. The program combines face to face workshops with individual coaching sessions and covers a range of critically important topics for leaders of the future.  If you are interested in this training please contact us by email at

Gemma Rygate, CEO The Centre for Volunteering and Executive Coach Denise North