Volunteering boosts community life, report shows

By Melissa Coade

Monday August 9, 2021

Volunteers hand out free meals during an Easter Sunday roast at the Rev. Bill Crews Foundation in Sydney, Sunday, April 4, 2021. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)
Volunteers hand out free meals during an Easter Sunday roast at the Rev. Bill Crews Foundation in Sydney, Sunday, April 4, 2021. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

A new report about the nature of volunteering in NSW during 2020 has revealed that, despite obvious challenges of the pandemic year, the sector actually grew.

According to the ‘State of Volunteering’ report, about 4.8 million volunteers in NSW — or 75.9% of the state’s adult population — contributed a total of $127 billion in social and economic benefits in 2020. 

Alister Henskens, NSW minister for families, communities and disability services said the ‘first of its kind’ NSW Centre for Volunteering report provided a snapshot of the value of community service. 

“During what has been an incredibly difficult period in our state’s history, the valuable work volunteers do has never been more important,” Henskens said. 

“The pandemic may have tested the character and resolve of our great state but our volunteers have responded in a variety of ways to make our communities stronger, safer and better places to live.”

The report is based on a survey conducted by the Institute of Project Management, which interviewed 1,100 individual volunteers and more than 1,000 volunteer organisations. 

Those aged 65 and over made up a huge proportion of those volunteering for organisations (82.4%), and nearly half of these people were skilled professionals. And the volunteer hours people were donating to social causes and support services averaged 25 hours per month. 

Gemma Rygate, CEO of NSW Centre for Volunteering, said that the volunteer workforce was as big as the private sector. 

“This research is a powerful reminder of how critical the volunteer workforce is and provides the evidence we need to support volunteering well into the future,” Rygate said. 

“The report shows us that the way people volunteer is changing and that people are looking for flexible ways to volunteer, including the use of digital and online tools.

The survey found that of those people interviewed, 10.2% participated in volunteer work in exclusively formal settings, another 59% did a mix of formal and informal volunteer work, and 30.3% contributed to informal volunteer efforts.

While almost half of all volunteering in NSW occurred on the ground and in local communities, one third of volunteer efforts were reported as being undertaken from home or online.

“Volunteers are everyday people, putting their community above themselves,” Henskens  added.


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