Community Volunteering: Understanding Motivation, Sustaining Participation, Capturing Benefits



Volunteering has been linked to lower rates of mortality and improvements in physical and mental health. The literature suggests that motivation to volunteer varies across individuals and groups and will change over time. Ground-breaking research from the Australian island state of Tasmania Australia looks at volunteer similarities and differences across interest areas and across sectors. With support from the Tasmanian Community Fund, project partners Volunteering Tasmania, the City of Hobart, the Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania and Hydro Tasmania joined with the University of Tasmania to contact volunteer-involving organisations and individual volunteers. An on-line survey gathered information on respondents' demographics, health status, volunteer activity, and motivations for volunteering. The latter was captured using Australian Bureau of Statistics categories, the SF12 and questions from the Volunteering Functions Inventory. In-depth focus group discussions with selected volunteers and managers/coordinators of volunteers investigated the results in more detail to provide greater depth to the quantitative results, by allowing for follow-up questions, and examples to illustrate the points being made. The results inform the development of open-source resources to motivate and sustain the volunteer workforce: to engage existing volunteers more effectively; move more volunteers into the high-commitment segment of that population; and, as older volunteers scale back their activities, increase participation in younger age groups. The official launch of these resources will occur during Volunteer Week, 23-29 April 2017 but this paper will provide conference delegates with an early release of the results of this research. Keywords: Community development/engagement, capacity building, partnerships Health-related behaviours Research/knowledge translation Key Messages 1. How volunteers differ across sectors, interest areas, is important in determining engagement, participation patterns. 2. These differences have implications for volunteer organisations and services. 3. These differences have implications for individuals and how they benefit from volunteer activity.


Elizabeth Shannon

University of Tasmania

Dr Elizabeth Shannon works for two Tasmanian government departments (Health and Human Services; Premier and Cabinet) and the University of Tasmania. She is passionate about leadership development and curates https://healthleadsaustralia.org.
Find her publications at https://rmdb.research.utas.edu.au/public/rmdb/q/indiv_detail_warp_trans/2165#research-tab-5
Elizabeth has several presentations at the WCPH.
In the poster presentation 'Community Volunteering: Understanding Motivation, Sustaining Participation, Capturing Benefits' her co-authors are Dr Sue Pearson (Lecturer in Public Health, University of Tasmania) and Ms Fiona Girkin (Principle Consultant, Little Things Consulting). See www.facebook.com/VolunteeringinTasmania
In the presentation 'UTAS CARES: Partnerships for Education and the Environment' her co-authors are Prof. Marcus Haward, Assoc. Prof. Gretta Pecl, Dr Eric Woehler, Dr Lisa Cawthen, Vishnu Prahalad, Kristen Warr Pedersen, Pip Gowan, Ruth Osborne, Vicki Campbell, and Dona Leach. See www.facebook.com/UTasCares