The true value of volunteering to communities across NSW has been uncovered in a first of its kind report showing a massive $127 billion in annual social and economic benefits from volunteering across the state.

The findings were contained in the NSW State of Volunteering Report released today by The Centre for Volunteering; an in-depth investigation into the value of volunteering across the state.

The report found that almost 4.9 million adults volunteered in NSW, giving more than 1.5 billion hours of their time in 2020. Their efforts delivered a return of $3.30 for every $1 invested in volunteering services across the state.

Around 28 percent of volunteers reported being badly impacted by COVID, while corporate volunteering also reduced by around 35 percent over the three years to 2020, with the impact of the pandemic a likely major source of the reduction.

While older people from NSW were less likely to volunteer due to COVID, young people and existing volunteers helped to maintain volunteer services over the period.

Overall, volunteering remained strong during 2020, with informal volunteering and online and digital volunteering programs helping to provide an overall increase in volunteering hours in 2020.

The report was undertaken by the Institute of Project Management which surveyed more than 1,100 volunteers and received more than 1,000 responses from volunteer involving organisations.

It tracked volunteering numbers, trends, attitudes and barriers and opportunities to grow volunteering and its benefits across the state.

It produced a detailed cost-benefit analysis of the social, cultural and economic impacts of volunteering on communities in NSW.

The Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said:

“This report shows us that we have been under-valuing the contribution of volunteers in NSW,” Ms. Rygate said.

“The sector has never had this level of detailed insight into the value of volunteering. But now we know, we need to take action to recognize, support and grow this contribution.

“In particular, we need to find ways to support our volunteer managers who are taking on more and more work to support the sector.

“The private, government and community sectors all benefit from the contribution of volunteers; and so, it is right that we should all work together to support and grow volunteering across the state.”

NSW State of Volunteering Key findings

  • In 2020, nearly 4.9 million residents of New South Wales over 18 years of age gave time as a volunteer, or 75.9% of the adult population.
  • also gave of their time informally to other non-household or non-family members in 2020, through acts such as domestic work, transport and child-care.
  • They donated at least 1.5 billion volunteer hours to the community in 2020.

Other key insights

  • The volunteering sector is nearly four-times larger than the New South Wales public sector workforce and the same size as the private sector.
  • 87.6% of NSW residents aged 18-24 volunteered in 2020 – over 640,000 youth in total.
  • During 2020, 32% of volunteers reported they directly donated money to organisations they volunteered for – additional to donations of time or expenses.
  • 42.3% volunteers also reported making donations to other organisations or charities.
  • More non-volunteers were unsure as to how to go about volunteering (25.9%) than those who were genuinely not interested (21.7%).
  • Volunteers indicated that they are twice as likely to volunteer more over the next three years than less.
  • 82.4% of volunteer-involving organisations relied on volunteers aged over 65 years old; and
  • 49.6% included skilled professionals among the ranks of their volunteers.

Impacts of COVD-19 on volunteering

  • 27.9 percent of volunteers said their volunteering was negatively impacted by COVID-19.
  • The most frequently reported change to volunteering during 2020 was fewer older volunteers or those with under-lying health issues, while other notable changes mentioned included more young people and worker age volunteers.
  • Companies wanting to volunteer employees’ time decreased by 35.3% over the last three years – potential reasons for the decrease include impacts of COVID-19, remote working and the current economic environment.

The NSW State of Volunteering Report was supported and funded by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice.

Contact: or (02) 9261 3600