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Volunteering in a Market Driven Environment

The disability and aged care sector is changing, which means the nature of volunteering is also changing. This article explains how the changing environment will impact upon you and your business both now and in the future as well as offer practical strategies to accommodate these changes into your business.

Volunteering in a market driven environment – FAQ

  1. How do we sustain our business in a market driven towards individualised budgets compared to block funded models resulting in reduced funding for labour costs, administration and coordination when compared to SCHADS / SACS awards?

Organisations could utilise volunteers for non-strategic activities, clerical support, social engagement and participation. The experienced paid professionals could contribute to the strategic business activities ensuring optimum utilisation of funds with excellent service delivery creating better customer experience thereby retaining good employees and ensuring good standard of duty of care.           

  1. How do we keep customers happy, meet their needs and create an outstanding experience in a highly competitive market driven environment with volunteer support?

In the market driven environment, we have empowered and better informed customers. We need to make each customer experience positive and rewarding as customers will never forget or forgive an opportunistic action or violation of trust which will damage the reputation of the service provider and the brand. We need to provide sufficient training, enablement and clearly communicate success metrics to our dedicated volunteers as it is the essence of supporting sustainability in the volatile market.    

  1. How do we retain our best volunteers and provide a better volunteer experience

To retain our best volunteers, we need to understand what motivates them, what rewards them and what element of volunteering values them. More importantly listening to volunteers, obtaining  feedback, addressing  the cause of dissatisfaction; reduce the  churn and stay closely aligned to the needs of volunteers is important in building dedicated volunteer workforce. Most importantly human virtue of valuing their service with a thank you and a smile.

  1. How do we attract good volunteers?

Building a volunteering culture that puts customer at the centre. Good vision, values, recognising and meeting the consumer needs. Have an inclusive, open and friendly work culture for employees and volunteers. The best way is the way you want to be treated as a volunteer could help you creating a base niche.

  1. How do we streamline and reduce the cost in recruitment?

Volunteer retention and loyalty will emerge as a better proposition than any new volunteer acquisition as we have more indirect cost and time involved with regard to the screening, recruitment, initial training, setting up the system, mandatory checks and more importantly the familiarity and long term relationship has its perk and benefits. Reduce paperwork, use technology and customise your client /employee database to include volunteer date and streamlining the intake process and mandatory check timelines.

  1. How do we source our volunteers?

Analyse and plan your volunteer needs carefully, prepare a good position description, utilise various sourcing venues and streams -both online and local community based.

  1. What is the non-profit world alternative for outsourcing and offshoring?

Big organisations could look into outsourcing non-strategic activities which will not support achieving any positive gearing for the organisation that will be something volunteering based organisations could look into boosting their operational and financial sustainability.

  1. How do we cope with disintermediation in the community with regard to volunteering?

With disintermediation in the community sector due to change in funding and most providers providing direct service to people living in the community; the importance of volunteering to support social inclusion, skills transfer and community participation will be increasing to support a sustainable future.

  1. How do we cover our main risks and hidden prospective expenditure?

The industry will have a better standardised risk management framework with better compliance reducing unnecessary volunteer work related compensations. In a market driven environment, there will be always strong competition to retain the funding with better customer experience and adherence to the guidelines which will call for an ethical volunteering practice policy.

  1. How do we incorporate and customise a volunteering framework?

 Since volunteering will be heavily relied upon, there will be more clarity, simplified procedures, policies and practice and need for more innovative practice in volunteering making volunteering easier for volunteers and  organisations will need  to think creatively out of their comfort zones and create volunteering  opportunities  for varied demographics, skills, capacities utilising their availability in a fruitful way. The volunteering evaluation framework will need to undergo revival to establish a better evidence base for the market driven model combining both commercial and community priorities.

  1. How do we use technology for a better volunteering experience?

As we are in a digital era, there will be improved social media involvement on aspects of volunteering- be it connecting with potential volunteers, promoting volunteerism in general and recognising the outstanding volunteering service. The digitisation will make things easy for volunteers to seek opportunities, linking with their likes and dislikes and reducing the carbon and savings for both volunteers and organisations. There could be a shift to create qualitative volunteering experiences with volunteers shared between organisations as well as virtual and micro volunteering with collaborative outcomes.

  1. How do we measure the impact and return on investments in volunteering?

There are various methods of measuring the impact and return on investment. Various online calculators are available. Also the evidence base from feedback surveys and service delivery can support with this initiative. The effective way should be the savings and impact of having a volunteer driven with passion, skill and dedication in service of a vulnerable client helping to build inclusive resilient local communities.

Written by Jisha Kalam

Volunteer Coordinator

Your Northside