Communications & Media

Study finds ways to motivate and sustain volunteer workforce

A recent study has found key ways in which volunteers and organisations can help motivate and sustain a volunteer workforce.

There are around 2000 volunteering-involving organisations in Tasmania with data from Volunteering Tasmania showing those in the 65-74 age group the most active volunteers.

University of Tasmania researchers Dr Elizabeth Shannon and Dr Sue Pearson, joined by Fiona Girkin (Little Things Consulting), surveyed 864 volunteers from across the State to find out the motivations behind volunteering and any constraints to participating.

Researchers held statewide presentations on the study’s findings during National Volunteer Week (8-14 May).

The online survey gathered information on respondents’ demographics, health status, volunteer activity and motivations.

The study involved in-depth focus group discussions in the South, North and North West of Tasmania to look at how to encourage more people to volunteer and strategies that volunteer organisations can use to help sustain volunteer involvement over time.

The study found that volunteers and organisations can do the following to motivate, sustain and capture the benefits of volunteering including:

Volunteers can:

  • Understand benefits – one in three survey respondents in the study sought out volunteering opportunities on their own. The research showed that the strongest benefit volunteers enjoy is the chance to express their values in action 
  • Motivate others – research shows that many started volunteering after being encouraged by others. One in three survey respondent volunteers either knew someone who was involved in volunteering, or were asked by someone to volunteer
  • Self-motivate – the research showed that promotion should keep in mind that, while different groups will be motivated by different benefits, when volunteers engage with their particular cause or activities, they also expand their knowledge and understanding.

Organisations can:

  • Make benefits outweigh costs – help keep costs to a minimum. Discussion groups found out-of-pocket expenses can deter individuals from volunteering if they are over and above the benefits received from the experience
  • Provide flexibility and diversity – providing volunteers with a routine which works for them is important. Regular utilisation and engagement of volunteers is needed to maintain their interest and volunteering momentum
  • Create normalising partnerships - a key factor in continuing motivation is to have the structural arrangements in place for volunteering to be a normal part of Tasmanian life. Initiatives include work experience and employer support.

The study was supported by the Tasmanian Community Fund and project partners Volunteering Tasmania, City of Hobart, Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania and Hydro Tasmania.

Published on: 12 May 2017 9:11am