Volunteering in Australia 2022

New landmark research to guide the future of volunteering

Volunteering Australia has published landmark research presenting a full picture of volunteering in Australia as told by volunteers and organisations. The Volunteering in Australia 2022 reports provide insights into why volunteering is declining and how we can address the challenges facing volunteering and explore opportunities to reimagine a future where volunteering in Australia thrives. 

As part of the development of the National Strategy for Volunteering, Volunteering Australia has been leading the Volunteering in Australia research project. This seminal research will serve as a core evidence base on contemporary volunteering in Australia, and will inform the development of the National Strategy. 

The Volunteering in Australia research launch took place on Monday 17 October and we were delighted to be joined by over 290 people. If you were unable to attend, you can access the presentation slides and event recording below.

Event Recording


Volunteering Research Papers Initiative

The Volunteering Research Papers aim to capture evidence on a wide range of topics related to volunteering and outline key insights for policy and practice. The Volunteering Research Papers are peer reviewed, and insights will directly inform the development of the National Strategy for Volunteering.

The Volunteering Research Papers are an initiative of the National Strategy for Volunteering Research Working Group.

Volunteering Research Papers – Round 1

The great (volunteer) resignation: An evidence-based strategy for retaining volunteers
by Vivien Forner, Djurre Holtrop, Darja Kragt, and Anya Johnson

A review and analysis of current research on volunteer turnover, this paper presents evidence-based recommendations for key actions that will have the greatest impact on minimising turnover rates in volunteer involving organisations.

Corporate volunteering: implications for policy and practice
by Debbie Haski-Leventhal

This paper summarises available research on corporate volunteering in Australia. It outlines the main styles of employee volunteering programs, motivations for employers, employees, not-for-profits, and the community to participate, and the main determinants of success in corporate volunteering initiatives.

Without leadership there is no volunteering: The importance of strategic investment in leadership development in Australia
by Darja Kragt, Sarah Wilson, Toby Newstead, and Vivien Forner

This paper reviews existing scholarly evidence on effective volunteer leadership, examining key challenges faced by Leaders of Volunteers in Australia and the role volunteer leadership development can play in addressing these challenges.

The free-fall of volunteer leaders in Australian grassroots associations
by Christel Mex

This paper presents data on grassroots organisations, small groups of volunteers who come together for leisure and social connectedness, arguing that membership numbers of these associations are declining with fewer members willing to step up and become leaders. The paper also identifies why, or why not, members choose to nominate as leaders, with many research participants reporting disturbing experiences while serving on committees.

Volunteering within ethno-religious community contexts: Empirical insights with a focus on Muslim intra-community engagement in Australia
by Mario Peucker

This paper presents a synthesis of key research on ethno-religious intra-community volunteering in a pluralistic civil society – with a particular focus on volunteering in Australian Muslim communities, highlighting the multiple personal and social benefits of volunteering within ethno-religious community contexts.

Understanding motivations to volunteer
by Arthur Stukas and Sarah Wilson

This paper summarises the literature on volunteer motivations, discussing the relationship between motivations and other aspects of the volunteering experience, including retention, satisfaction, and wellbeing.

Emergency volunteering: leading engagement and retention
by Amber Tsai, Toby Newstead, and Gemma Lewis

This paper reviews research on volunteer leadership development in emergency response organisations, detailing recommendations for both leaders of volunteers and for researchers.

The Decline of Formal Volunteering in Australia (2001–2020): Insights from the HILDA Survey
by Rong Zhu

This paper examines the prevalence and intensity of formal voluntary work provided through an organisation in Australia using long-run nationally representative data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, finding that volunteering participation in Australia generally declined from 2001 to 2020.

Event recording

Over 200 people attended the Volunteering Research Papers Initiative Launch on Tuesday 27 February. The online event was introduced by the Chair of the National Strategy for Volunteering Research Working Group, Professor Melanie Oppenheimer, and included a series of brief presentations in which contributing authors highlighted the findings and policy and practice implications of their research. If you were unable to attend, you can access a video recording of the event below.

Volunteering Research Papers – Round 2

Methodological approaches to, and challenges of, determining the size, scale, and contribution of volunteer workforces
by Megan Woods and Karen Douglas

The Seven Waves of Volunteering in Australia: a brief history
by Melanie Oppenheimer and Sue Regan

Online volunteering: Unlocking untapped potential
by Debbie Haski-Leventhal, Irit Alony, Paul Flemons, and Adam Woods

Psychosocial hazard management in regional volunteer involving organisations: A review of the current research landscape
by Adam Nebbs

Surviving and Thriving from the Volunteer Involvement in Mega-Sport Events
by Tracey Dickson and Simon Darcy

Applying insights from behavioural economics to increase volunteering
by Swee-Hoon Chuah

Time to be bold: Australian volunteering research since IYV+10 2011
by Megan Paull

Planning for an uncertain future: future scenarios for emergency volunteering in Australia
by Blythe McLennan


Volunteering in Australia Early Findings

Volunteering Australia is currently leading the Volunteering in Australia research project, which will produce a series of reports that will serve as a core evidence base on contemporary volunteering in Australia. The research will also be used to inform the development of the National Strategy for Volunteering.

Volunteering in Australia Research – The Organisation Perspective

The organisation survey was undertaken from May to June 2022 and we have produced an Early Findings Report that summarises the key findings.

Presentation slides

The Volunteering in Australia Research Early Findings from the Organisation Perspective launch event took place on Monday 15 August and we were delighted to be joined by over 150 people. If you were unable to attend, you can access the presentation slides and video recording below.

Event Recording

Volunteering in Australia Research – The Volunteer Perspective

The population survey was undertaken in April 2022 and we have produced an Early Insights Report that summarises the key findings.

Event Recording

The Volunteering in Australia Research Early Insights from the Volunteer Perspective launch event took place on Thursday 19 May and we were delighted to be joined by over 200 people. If you were unable to attend, you can access a video recording of the event below.