Volunteers

What defines a volunteer?

A volunteer is ‘a person who chooses to contribute their time, skills and experience, for no payment (other than reimbursement for out of-pocket expenses), to benefit the community'.

An important notion in volunteering is freedom of choice. People who feel obligated

or coerced into volunteering may not be as willing to contribute their time, skills or

experience as someone who freely chooses to become a volunteer.

 

 

Why do people volunteer?

Volunteer work itself is not always seen as fulfilling. The reasons people give for

becoming a volunteer and the benefits they feel they gain by volunteering

infrequently mention the volunteer work itself (see Table 1). The predominant

reasons for becoming a volunteer are to help others or the community (altruism), to

be with family or friends (social contact), or to do something worthwhile (personal

satisfaction). In order to recruit volunteers effectively, clubs and organisations need to emphasise the opportunities that volunteering provides for social contact, to be community minded and to do something worthwhile. While an understanding of the work involved in taking on a voluntary position is important, it is not the work itself that motivates volunteers. Similar findings are evident among the reported benefits (outcomes) of volunteering. The most highly rated benefits of being a volunteer are personal satisfaction and social contact (see Table 2). What motivates people to volunteer and what they see as the rewards or benefits of volunteering are usually beyond the control of sport and recreation organisations, but need to be taken into account when designing volunteer recruitment plans.

 

 

Table 1 Reasons for becoming a volunteer

<<Australian Bureau of Statistics (1995) Voluntary Work Australia, Cat. 4441.0.

Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.>

 

 

Help others/community

41.5%

Personal/family involvement

33.5%

Personal satisfaction

26.6%

To do something worthwhile

23.3%

Social contact

15.7%

Felt obliged/just happened

12.9%

Use skills/experience

11.5%

Gain work experience/reference

11.5%

To be active

11.0%

Religious beliefs

9.3%

To learn new skills

6.4%

 

 

Table 2 Personal benefits gained through volunteer work for sport and

recreation volunteers

<<Australian Bureau of Statistics (1995) Voluntary Work Australia, Cat. 4441.0.

Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.>>

 

Personal satisfaction

60.5%

Social contact

44.3%

Helped others/community

25.0%

Personal/family involvement

21.9%

Do something worthwhile

20.4%

Learned new skills

18.2%

Have been active

13.1%

Used skills/experience

12.5%

Gained work experience/reference

6.8%

No benefits

4.7%