The State of Volunteering in Western Australia

Volunteering WA is the peak body for volunteering in Western Australia, working across community, government, corporate and education organisations to provide leadership, advancement and the celebration of volunteering.

Volunteering WA proudly represents over 1.5 million volunteers across the state including 742,000 people aged over 15 who volunteer formally with an organisation or group.

The Economic Value of Volunteering 

See Section 2 of the Report (pages 14 - 21) for a comprehensive breakdown of the economic value of volunteering in WA

  • Volunteering yields substantial social and economic benefits for WA. 
  • There has been a significant increase in the benefits of volunteering in WA to $63.9 billion in 2023, from $39 billion in 2015.
  • 1.5 million individuals dedicate their time to volunteering in Western Australia, generating a substantial value of $63.9 billion for the state.
  • WA volunteers contribute 398.7 million hours of time and create $63.9 billion in economic value, every year.
  • The volunteering sector contributes significantly to the WA workforce and is the largest industry by employment (when measured by replacement cost). 
  • For every $1 invested in volunteering, $4.70 is returned to the Western Australian community.
  • The annual contribution of volunteering to the Gross State Product is 1.3% ($4.8billion Gross Value Added), similar to the contribution of WA’s accommodation and food services sector of $4.7 billion.
  • Volunteering is identified as a pivotal contributor to community well-being, accounting for a noteworthy 14.7% increase in workplace productivity.
  • In WA, the modelling estimates that volunteering in WA generates approximately 41,800 jobs across the economy (community). Of these, 26,900 were full-time positions.  
  • It is imperative to acknowledge the significant personal cost borne by volunteers, emphasising that volunteering is not without expense.   
  • Volunteers in WA reported spending an average of $13.75 per hour they volunteered (before reimbursement). This can be directly compared to a cost of $6.15 per volunteer hour in 2015. Volunteers in WA also reported that, on average, they were reimbursed for 21% of their expenses.  
  • The report reveals an hourly cost of $13.75 to volunteer, with volunteers absorbing 77.3% of the total expenses, compared to 22.7% for volunteer involving organisations.  

WA Volunteers

See Section 3 of the Report (pages 22 - 32) for a comprehensive breakdown of Volunteers in WA

  • Nearly two thirds of WA residents aged 15 years and over (65.1%), or 1.5 million people, contributed to the community as volunteers.
  • Formal volunteers (as a percentage of population aged 15+), 32.2% (742,000 people).
  • Informal volunteers (as a percentage of population aged 15+), 42.3% (975,000 people).
  • On average, each volunteer contributed 22.6 hours monthly, culminating in a total of 398.7 million hours each year.
  • Volunteering rates tend to decrease with age, with a tendency to increase post-retirement. 
  • A considerable portion of volunteer activities is undertaken by young people, with 78.2% of individuals under 25 involved in some form of volunteer work.
  • Volunteers are motivated by many factors, led by: 67.8% of volunteers did so to help others; 38.2% for enjoyment; 34% to be active; 33.8% for social and community connection; and 32.4% to use or develop skills and experience. 
  • WA volunteers contribute their time close to home, with 53.7% of volunteers doing so in their local community, and 24.5% of volunteering online or from home. 
  • The rate of volunteering online or from home has increased from 15% to 24.5% from 2015 to 2023. 
  • There are a variety of social preferences for volunteers, with approximately equal numbers wishing to volunteer alone (30.3%), with others (34.3%), or through a combination of both (35.4%). 
  • In Western Australia, the channels most people use to find a volunteering role are personal referrals (word of mouth) (54.4%), social media (33.8%), and online searches (27.8%) are
  • 58.4% of Western Australians intend to maintain or increase their current level of volunteering in three years’ time, with 13.4% expecting to cease volunteering in this period.

WA Volunteer Managers

See Section 4 of the Report (pages 34 - 47) for a comprehensive breakdown of Volunteer Managers in WA

  • Of the 613 responses to the WA Volunteer Manager Survey, there was an almost equal split of paid and unpaid volunteer managers, with 3.8% reporting being in a role that was both paid and unpaid.
  • Almost 40% of all volunteer managers, manage more than 50 volunteers.
  • Paid volunteer managers are more likely to manage larger numbers of volunteers.
  • Volunteer managers indicated the rate of engagement from different cohorts within the organisation's volunteer programs, included: People aged over 65 (75.2%); People aged under 25 (51.5%); People living with or caring for someone with a disability (34.6%); Culturally and linguistically diverse people (32.1%); and People volunteering online or remotely (15.3%).
  • Volunteer recruitment: Volunteer managers in WA reported using an average of 3.7 recruitment methods which was slightly higher than the average of 3.5 for the rest of Australia, and are more likely to use online recruitment platforms and Volunteer Resource Centres than the rest of Australia.
  • Volunteer retention: WA volunteer managers reported a slightly higher incidence of employing a range of strategies for volunteer retention compared to the rest of Australia. The top strategies used by Volunteer Managers to recognise, engage and retain volunteers in WA are: personal relationship building (70.8%); volunteer training and development (69.7%); social opportunities and events (58.4%); role flexibility and accessibility support (56.7%); and public praise and acknowledgement (56.7%). 
  • Significant direct and subsidised costs are incurred by volunteer managers in WA in the performance of their duties.
  • Who pays for the managing of volunteering programs:
    • The volunteer manager (direct) – 11.9%
    • The volunteer manager (reimbursed) – 12.9%
    • The organisation – 75.2%.
  • The most important issues for volunteer managers in WA (across the three categories discussed in Section 4) were:
    1. Volunteer health and safety – 87.5%
    2. Volunteer retention – 86.1%
    3. Volunteer recruitment – 80.0%
    4. Organisational culture, inclusion and diversity – 77.4%
    5. Volunteer management – 76.8%

Volunteer Involving Organisations

See Section 5 (pages 48 -  56) for a comprehensive breakdown of volunteer involving organisations in WA. 

Data from this section is drawn from published reports completed as part of the National Strategy for Volunteering and reported from an organisational perspective.This Section provides further insight into the WA volunteering ecosystem from a whole of organisation perspective.

  • The nature of volunteering within organisations in WA:
    • Ongoing roles performed regularly (e.g. weekly, fortnightly) 92.4%
    • For specific events or activities that occur once or infrequently – 63.7%
    • In governance / board / committee roles – 58.2%
    • Skills-based volunteering – 48.3%
    • Short-term project roles – 40.2%
    • Micro-volunteering – 29.8%
    • Other – 2.9%.
  • The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement provide guidance for good volunteer management practice in Australia. Almost half (48%) of WA respondent organisations reported being aware of, and their practices being largely
    reflective of, the National Standards.
  • Top trends reported for the 3 years to 2022 - Organisations were asked to rate their support for a range of statements pertaining to changes over the previous three years. The tops trends reported by organisations were:
    1. Regulation and administrative requirements have become more complicated
    2. Loss / interruption of volunteer participation due to COVID-19
    3. The diversity of our volunteer cohort is increasing.
  • Most organisations in WA reported an immediate need for fewer than 10 volunteers (47.4%) while at the other end of the spectrum were 15.7% of organisations looking for more than 50 volunteers. Organisations reporting acute shortages in WA included those from the emergency services, disability, youth and aged care sectors.

Spotlight on Corporate Volunteering

See Section 6 of the Report (pages 58 - 62 ) for a comprehensive breakdown of corporate volunteering in WA

  • Volunteering WA is proud to be a national leader in corporate volunteering. Established nearly 15 years ago, this flagship program has gone from strength to strength, contributing thousands of volunteer hours and value to the community.
  • Western Australian volunteering organisations reported a very high level of connection with volunteering peak bodies (Volunteering WA) and Volunteer Resource Centres in connecting with employee corporate volunteers. The use of these channels in WA (28%) is double the national average (14%).
  • 14.7% - the extent to which volunteering improves workplace productivity. 
  • Employees of businesses who participate in Volunteering WA's corporate volunteering program report the benefits as: 
    • Sense of well-being and happiness - 84%
    • Awareness of wider social issues - 81%
    • Pride in company and job - 79%
    • Understanding and empathy - 81%
    • Teamwork and communication - 80%

You can learn more about Volunteering WA's Corporate Volunteering program at

Western Australia's State of Volunteering Report 2023