We are pleased to release, in conjunction with Volunteering Australia, the Value of Volunteering Support Services research report. This report provides a socio-economic analysis and evaluation of the value of Commonwealth funded Volunteering Support Services.

Below is a summary of the report and its findings. You can download a copy of the full report here.

Place-based services, such as Volunteering Support Services, provide the critical infrastructure required for safe, effective and sustainable volunteering. They are responsible for the promotion, resourcing and support of volunteering in local communities, and assist thousands of organisations across the country to recruit, retain and manage their volunteers.

To capture the value of Volunteering Support Services, two surveys and a Census were distributed to Volunteering Support Services themselves, as well as to Volunteer Involving Organisations and volunteers engaged by Volunteering Support Services.

The results of the data analysed show that in 2017, the Commonwealth funded 52 Volunteering Support Services through the Volunteer Management Program. The purpose of the program is to support “the delivery of Volunteering Support Services and one-off innovation and collaboration projects to encourage, support and increase participation in volunteering.” Further, in 2018, 52 Volunteering Support Services will deliver 70 programs across each State and Territory across Australia.

Volunteering Support Services enabled nearly 12.3 million volunteer hours in 2017. This volunteering is worth $477.5 million, and would not have occurred without the engagement of Volunteering Support Services. It is noteworthy to highlight that Volunteering Support Services would not exist without the $5.7 million investment from the Commonwealth. This represents a return on investment of $83 for every dollar invested by the Commonwealth.

The analysis outlined in this report provides evidence that despite an increasing demand for the services of Volunteering Support Services, government contribution has remained static.

The challenge for Volunteering Support Services will be to demonstrate the collective contribution they make to the wider community. For example, it is essential to consider the economic and social contributions of Volunteering Support Services, and their role in building social capital, community cohesion, and in the delivery of long-term and agile service provision.

This report outlines the challenges for Volunteering Support Services in respect to short-term funding, increasing costs and overheads, staffing capacity and retention, and increasing demand for services. This includes recommendations to consider the benefits of appropriately resourcing and investing in these organisations to not only ensure their long-term sustainability, viability and success, but their value for the broader Australian community. It also highlights that there should be adequate consideration and allowance of the value of Volunteering Support Service in Government policy and planning to guarantee the best possible outcomes.