The Australian economy has, at last estimate, benefited from an average input of $14.6 billion in unpaid volunteer labour each year for the past few years. To put that into perspective, SpaceX is currently worth about $12 billion and so the volunteering power that Australians are now generating is notionally worth more than the company that is privatising space flight and trying to beat NASA to colonise Mars.
However, if you were to take a peek at the statistics around volunteering, you would quickly discover how slowly the economy of volunteering moves in comparison with the wider global economy. In the age of the sharing economy, the concept of volunteering has failed to tap into the benefits of a workforce that are migrating to on-demand and remote working styles.
The recent State of Volunteering report by PwC and Volunteering Australia showed in its key findings that, amongst other problems, potential volunteers were deterred from volunteering due to (1) a lack of flexibility in current volunteering programs, (2) a lack of support for online volunteering, and (3) a lack of engagement from volunteer organisations with volunteers about opportunities. The report also showed that a whopping 86 per cent of volunteer organisations need more volunteers. There is a clear need to help volunteer organisations better connect with people who want to volunteer, but don’t have the opportunities to do so.
Unlocking More Volunteer Potential with Skilled Remote Volunteering
Skilled remote volunteering (also known as virtual volunteering, online volunteering, or simply remote volunteering) is different than traditional volunteering in that it matches the particular skills of each volunteer to the needs of the non-profit and allows the volunteer to work from an off-site location like their home, office, or flight. Rather than having a local accountant shaking the tin on the busy corner, a non-profit can utilise an accountant’s expertise to assist with financial planning, tax returns, and revenue reports from anywhere in the world. This benefits both parties, as the accountant has more flexibility about when he or she can volunteer and how they can do it, and the non-profit gains the benefits of having a high-quality accountant providing valuable resources for free.
Recently a web developer called Anthony Vyner applied for the “Build Our First Website” project on Vollie from Wild Paws Wildlife Shelter. Anthony is Brisbane-based and Wild Paws are nestled in the rural surroundings of the Yarra Valley close to Victoria’s famous wine region. Wild Paws currently rescues and rehabilitates around 200 animals each year, one of which is little Theo (pictured).
Ant liaised with Nell (Founder of Wild Paws) about what she wanted from her first website and built the platform remotely. The project’s value, which required 50 hours, was $2,650, and ended up costing Nell and Wild Paws next to nothing.
The result is simple, but very effective: https://www.wildpaws.net/. The website gives Nell’s humble organisation heightened exposure and also the ability to drive fundraising. Anthony says the new website also informs people of who they can contact if they find injured animals.
Nell says the Vollie platform has helped with the big projects associated with the shelter, including web design, fundraising and PR but the options are limitless.
“There are so many daily challenges in rescuing and caring for sick, injured and orphaned animals and it can be very physically and emotionally draining, as well as time consuming, which is why any help is always great. We also don’t receive any government funding, so financially it becomes very expensive and an extra hand in these projects is amazing.”