Re-engaging Volunteers and COVID-19


A long recovery journey ahead for hard hit volunteering sector

Volunteering Australia data shows volunteering is not snapping back, even as COVID restrictions lift, with nearly three-quarters of survey respondents saying their volunteer programs were not fully operational. During the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020, two out of three volunteers stopped volunteering, equating to an estimated loss of 12.2 million hours per week.  


Volunteering Australia’s ‘Re-engaging Volunteers and COVID-19’ survey, received nearly 600 responses over December 2020 and January 2021, highlighting some worrying statistics. Although COVID restrictions have eased considerably across Australia, over half of the 600 respondents surveyed, said their organisations needed more volunteers, with four out of ten finding it difficult to re-engage or recruit volunteers. These results are particularly concerning, as recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows that pre-COVID, the rate of Australians volunteering and the time they give, continue to decline. In 2019, 7% less Australians volunteered for an organisation compared to 2010 and their contribution was 143 million less hours compared to 2014 (a 20% decrease).   

Volunteering Australia CEO Mark Pearce said this survey provides evidence of how the volunteering sector is still struggling with the impact of COVID-19.

"The next steps are for Governments, at all levels, to engage with the volunteering sector, to find ways to make volunteering easier and more accessible for time-poor or vulnerable Australians. It is vital for all of us to work together and take a holistic approach to support Australia’s diverse and invaluable volunteers. I’m calling on policymakers to commit to partnering with the volunteering sector to reinvigorate volunteering."

This research is part of Volunteering Australia’s Reinvigorating Volunteering Campaign. As part of this campaign, we have set out proposals for how the Australian Government can invest in a Reinvigorating Volunteering Action Plan and a whole of Government National Volunteering Strategy.