Final report Report to Department of Communities 2006

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Impact of key contemporary issues, trends and innovations on Queensland’s volunteering sector

Final report

Report to Department of Communities 2006

M & P Henderson & Associates Pty Ltd


Final report 1

Report to Department of Communities 2006 1

M & P Henderson & Associates Pty Ltd 1

Index: 2

Executive summary 2

Background and structure of the report 3

Volunteering defined 4

Benefits of volunteering 6

The volunteering policy and operating context 9

Role of governments 14

Developments in volunteering programs 21

Socio-demographic trends and their impacts 24

Labour market trends and their impacts 30

Public policy trends and their impact 32

Other issues and their impact 34

Young people 37

Older people 42

Corporate volunteering 48

Virtual volunteering 51

Other developments and initiatives 52

Conclusions 54

Annotated bibliography (publicly available reports) 55

Websites reviewed 105

Executive summary

This document reports on the outcomes of a research and practice literature review identifying and scoping issues that impact on the volunteering sector (specifically, changing social, demographic, labour market and public sector trends) and providing an overview of good practice volunteering models and innovations.
Key volunteering policy and operating context factors are consistently reported in the literature, specifically: changing demands on the sector producing greater professionalisation and corporatisation, changes in volunteering populations and motivations, diversity, rural and remote area impacts, information and communication technology developments, corporate social responsibility, and the role of volunteering in building social capital and civic engagement.

The report also discusses the role of governments and the general acknowledgment that the contributions governments can make to support and facilitate voluntary action include: funding support, infrastructure development (eg IT networks), capacity building activity (eg training and development), providing/facilitating sector networking opportunities, research, establishing an enabling environment (eg regulation, taxation, legislative change), promoting the value of volunteering, rewarding individual volunteer contribution, clarifying government-voluntary sector relationships, establishing or facilitating partnerships for effectively using volunteering in building communities, and as a source of corporate volunteering opportunities.

Developments in volunteering programs are described, including corporate, virtual, student, youth, family, group, time-limited, full-time, vacationer volunteering and programs targeting older volunteers.
Key trends contributing to the development of these different models and identified in the literature as impacting volunteering are discussed. They include socio-demographic trends, particularly the ageing population, structural and demographic changes in families and households, increasing affluence and income inequality, increased education levels, and linguistic and cultural diversity. Labour market trends include changing employment structures, changing patterns of market participation, unemployment rates, and corporate social responsibility trends. Public policy trends include mandated involvement in unpaid work, rationalisation of services, deinstitutionalisation policies, early intervention policies, community renewal and capacity building programs, and a partnership focus. Other issues are also identified, such as ‘pace-of-life’ demands, changing religious participation, population mobility, changing entertainment patterns, attitude changes, rural and regional areas in decline, technological change and globalisation, and declining societal ties.
Four specific interest areas are discussed in more detail (young volunteers, older volunteers, corporate volunteering, and virtual volunteering), summarising trends and issues, policy and practice implications, and providing Australian and/or international practice examples in each area.
Overall, there is a general view in the literature reviewed that traditional volunteering needs to change in response to changing volunteer supply and demand trends (particularly the impact of the ageing population), moving from a ‘charity’ to ‘social enterprise’ model, with consequential flow-on effects to infrastructure development needs. The key areas consistently identified as requiring change are recruitment and marketing strategies (particularly for reaching young people and increasingly for retirees from the baby-boomer generation), providing more flexible and meaningful volunteer opportunities (including off-site delivery options such as through the use of ICTs), volunteer management strategies appropriate to a more highly educated and professionally skilled group (whose motivations include personal benefit and satisfaction returns as well as altruism), recognition and reward strategies that recognise these different motivations, and making greater use of corporate and employer supported volunteering.

Background and structure of the report

In July 2006, the Department of Communities commissioned a report on the key contemporary issues, trends and innovations in volunteering, based on publicly available reports, information available on the Internet, and any additional reports and data provided by the Department for the purposes of the research. Other parallel commissioned research reported on support and management issues for volunteers and voluntary organisations (McGregor-Lowndes 2006) and provided an economic cost analysis on volunteering (Ironmonger 2006). The specific terms of reference of the current report are to:

  • identify and scope issues that impact on Queensland’s volunteering sector;

  • assess, in more detail, the impact on Queensland’s volunteering sector of changing social, demographic, labour market and public sector trends, including how this may impact differently on rural communities as compared to major regional centres/cities

  • provide an overview of best practice local, national and international volunteering models and innovations

Issue areas of interest were identified in the brief as:

  • Government’s role in supporting volunteering

  • benefits to community and government including both social and economic impacts across different service sectors

  • funding arrangements

  • infrastructure development

  • the enabling environment including government legislation, regulation, criminal checks, public liability insurance, taxation and accountability issues

  • corporate citizenship

  • employee volunteering

  • community ICT support and capability

  • virtual volunteering

  • changing trends and attitudes to volunteering

  • training and skills development

  • opportunities to suit the life stages of volunteers, for example, baby boomers, seniors and youth.

This report presents the outcomes of this review of the research and practice literature, addressing the issue areas above as they arise within particular sections.

The following sections of the report provide an overview of definitional issues, cited benefits, operational and policy context matters, and the role of governments. Subsequent sections describe developments in volunteering programs and underlying socio-demographic, labour market, public policy, and other trends and their impact on volunteering. The final sections focus on two key target groups of older people and young people and on corporate and virtual volunteering. Relevant innovative and good practice examples are described under each of these sections.
The approach taken to presenting the information derived from the large body of published literature on volunteering in this report has been to include only the key themes and some selected practice examples in the body of the report, relying heavily on footnotes to present more detailed information or to identify the evidence source(s) for that conclusion. The annotated bibliography summarises key information from each of the reviewed reports, focusing on matters relevant to the terms of reference rather than providing a comprehensive overview of all aspects covered by each report. Because of the broad scope of the terms of reference, the material reviewed covers a wide range of subject matter, intended to provide breadth in the scope of issues covered as well as depth on key matters. Greater priority is given to reviewing the policy and practice literature than to the theoretical or academic work in the field.

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