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Valuable Volunteers

To celebrate International Volunteer Day we thought we’d share some data about arts and cultural volunteering and some links about how to get connected so you can make the most of valuable volunteers in your organisation. 

Volunteers are happy
More than six million Australians volunteer each year and research shows that those volunteers are happier as a result. When asked about their overall life satisfaction, 82 per cent of volunteers reported that they were delighted, pleased or mostly satisfied with their lives, compared to 75 per cent of non-volunteers. As we know participation in the arts makes you happier so might volunteering in the arts make you twice as happy?

Volunteers equal big money
According to recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, volunteers provide 30.1 million hours for arts and heritage organisations. This was estimated to be $756 million worth of work by 231,000 volunteers. The value of volunteer labor is calculated at what it would cost to replace this labor with paid labor. However even the ABS states, the method that they used to calculate this data is likely to understate the hours worked across the cultural and creative industries that is of a cultural and creative nature.

So what about Queensland?
In 2013, Queenslanders were asked in the Arts in Daily Life survey about whether they had donated time or money to the arts over the last 12 months. The survey found that

  • more than one in four (27 per cent or 1,169,840) Queenslanders had
  • over half of these (53 per cent or 620,000 Queensland) volunteered their time and
  • there were no significant differences between volunteering levels in Brisbane and the rest of the State.

The most recent general population data we have on types of volunteering in Queensland indicate that the top five most popular arts and cultural volunteering activities were event support, fundraising, consulting or training, front of house/reception duties and administrative activities. The most popular kinds of organisations were performing arts centres, arts and cultural organizations, galleries or museums and arts and cultural industry/service organisations.

The top five reasons Queenslanders volunteered for arts and cultural organisations were to support the arts, help others and/or the community, personal satisfaction, personal/family involvement and to do something worthwhile.

Volunteering is changing
Interestingly, in 2015 Volunteering Australia are redefining the traditional definition of volunteering which was developed almost 20 years ago because it does not reflect the extent of volunteering today. New forms such as virtual volunteering, social entrepreneurship, corporate volunteering and informal volunteering in the community need to be counted if we don’t want to run the risk of undervaluing the social and economic contribution of volunteers.

If you interested in further informatio about volunteering you should connect with Volunteering Australia and Volunteering Queensland who have extensive information, training and resources for organisations looking for volunteers and people wishing to volunteer their time.