CEO of Volunteering Victoria On Engaging Volunteers
Volunteers are a vital part of our social, economic, cultural and environmental fabric.
Volunteering Victoria is the State Peak Body for connecting people with volunteer opportunities and improving social ties within the community.
“Start with where the Volunteer is at”
According to Volunteer Australia’s State of Volunteering report, the gap in the volunteer recruitment is the disconnect between volunteer roles people are interested in and the roles that organisations are offering.
The primary reason for people feeling unfulfilled in roles with volunteer involving organisations is that volunteers feeling undervalued, due to their roles being strategically designed not to accommodate their skills and interests.
Matching an individual with volunteer opportunities that reflect their interests is the bedrock of volunteer retention.
Ensuring that individuals feel stimulated throughout their volunteer journey, involves identifying how they can add value to an organisation. Individuals become passionate about volunteering when they participate in meaningful volunteer experiences.
AR: How do you engage volunteers?
SM: You have to start with where the volunteer is at, where are they coming from? People come from diverse backgrounds, so it is important to respond to and recognise that. Start from where a volunteer wants to begin and consider that they might not have any time.
People will need to acknowledge that and make time. They need to see volunteering as a priority and recognising what that priority is going to be for that volunteer, is what makes volunteer recruitment successful.
AR: I find it interesting that you’ve mentioned identifying people’s priorities during volunteer recruitment. What are your priorities as a volunteer?
SM: To enjoy a shared experience, a chance to bond and to spend some quality time with someone else who may not have the same opportunities that I have.
Making Volunteering a Priority
AR: Do you still make time to volunteer?
SM: I’m about to start volunteering with my son, it’s a new experience in the disability space. Providing and visiting people with disabilities together. That’s a new experience. Getting my three year old into volunteering is exciting, I can’t wait to see his journey!
AR: It’s sweet that you are embarking on a volunteer journey with your son. What are your thoughts on volunteering at an early age?
SM: I want my son to become a well-rounded and well-adjusted individual. I have a strong background in disability services and it’s a great way of learning about the challenges that other people experience from a young age.
“Volunteering can be an Addictive Experience”
AR: Some people don’t engage with volunteer opportunities at an early age or don’t have an interest in it. Can you tell me what you would you say to someone who is sceptical about volunteering?
SM: Do something that gives you a new experience and do something that makes you feel like you are making a difference in the world. There are plenty of opportunities to pursue and volunteering can be a very addictive experience when you find something that is right for you.
AR: Can you tell me about what makes volunteering an addictive experience for you?
SM: The people are unique, the relationships you build, the skills you learn. It makes better people, better self and a better community. What more could you ask for?
Better People, Better Self and Better Community
AR: You’ve just mentioned that volunteering can improve lives in a multitude of ways. Why have you adopted the better people, better self and better community mindset towards volunteering?
SM: It’s a powerful mechanism of our society, the desire to volunteer will increase as people start valuing their ability to remain human in amongst the technology and challenges to humanity.
AR: What do you think are key challenges for humanity that can be overcome through volunteering?
SM: The challenges can emerge through climate change, conflict or economic depression. While these challenges always seem to be on the horizon, volunteering is always going to be there and it will provide a meaningful reflection of our views and values.
Seeking opportunities to volunteer improves our wellbeing and encourages us to form communities with like-minded people. To find out more about the role that Volunteering Victoria plays in helping people come together, look out for more blog posts from Communiteer!
Written by Annie Renouf, Content Writer at Communiteer.