Planning - Involving Volunteers
Understanding the benefits and barriers of volunteering is critical for LDATs that are involving volunteers.
Understand why people volunteer
To be effective at involving volunteers, it’s important to understand why people volunteer, and what prevents people from donating their time. Volunteering Australia has found that people who volunteer report being happier and healthier – so why doesn’t everyone do it?1
Reasons why, and barriers to, volunteering
Why people volunteer
- To make a difference in their community
- It gives people a sense of purpose
- To meet other people, make friends, and socialise
- It makes people feel like they’re part of a team and part of their community
- To learn new skills
- To stay busy when not working
- LDAT specific: they or their family have been (or are being) impacted by alcohol and other drugs.
Barriers to volunteering
- No time, or volunteering schedule too rigid
- Out-of-pocket expenses incurred
- Lack of nearby organisations that interest them
- Frustrating and time-consuming administration requirements (e.g. repeated police checks, excessive paperwork).
This knowledge will help you to develop a volunteer role description and recruitment strategy that highlights how volunteering with the LDAT will provide the experience/s that volunteers are looking for.
It is also important to consider how your LDAT will avoid common barriers to volunteering. Consider the volunteer role you are developing and identify any barriers that may exist and how the barriers can be removed or reduced. For example, if there is paperwork required (e.g. a ‘working with children’ check) consider if your LDAT can organise the volunteer induction in a way that streamlines the process: this might include a simple step-by-step guide for how to complete the check.
Some people may be more willing to donate their time if they can help remotely and on their own schedule. Tasks like managing social media pages, copy writing, or graphic design could be great roles for someone who wants to contribute to your team, but who need flexibility to contribute when and where it suits them.
Consider if it’s possible to make the volunteer hours more flexible, or if you can accommodate remote work.
Setting objectives for your activity is an important part of the planning process.
Some example objectives for involving volunteers are provided below. Your team can develop its own objectives, although you may find these a useful starting point.
Over the next six months, work with (xx number) key partners of the (xx name) community to:
- Increase (xx number) volunteers’ knowledge of alcohol and other drug-related harms
- Increase (xx number) volunteers’ confidence to participate in a volunteering activity
- Through engagement with (xx number) volunteering activities, increase the number of volunteers feeling of increased levels of self-confidence
- Through engagement with (xx number) volunteering activities, increase the number of volunteers experiencing positive social connections in their community.
Working with community partners
Strong partnerships are critical to your success in preventing alcohol and other drug-related harms in the community.
Local Drug Action Teams will work with a variety of different community partners when involving volunteers. This can include community leaders, local councils – in fact just about any community based organisation wanting to reduce alcohol and other drug-related harms.
Partners can support your efforts to involve volunteers in many ways, including recruiting volunteers, training volunteers, providing venues for meetings, or recognising your volunteers. The type of volunteering roles that you have available will help influence the type of organisations you partner with.
Partners may include:
- Community leaders (e.g. local faith leaders)
- Representative groups (e.g. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Gender Diverse and Intersex)
- Local council
- Schools (primary, secondary, tertiary)
- Arts organisations
- Lions, Rotary and Apex clubs
- Community development, health promotion and youth workers
- Local employers and workplaces
- Traders and business associations
- Multicultural groups and other cultural groups
- Primary health services (e.g. general practitioners, pharmacists, dentists)
- Community health centres and neighbourhood houses
- Health services and hospitals
- Alcohol and other drug services and sector workers.
Determine resources required
Below is an indicative list of the types of resources required to recruit, train, and recognise your volunteers. LDATs may be able to provide some of these resources or work with partners who can provide additional support.
- Basic administrative tools. Access to stationery and office supplies, printers, phones, printing, a workspace for administrative duties
- Insurance. Liability and other insurance coverage (where appropriate)
- Recruitment. Materials and resources to develop a recruitment strategy and advertise the role
- Orientation and training. Knowledge, materials, funds and venue to deliver volunteer orientation and training
- Checks. Funds to undertake police checks/ working with-children checks where necessary
- Volunteer recognition. Funds and materials for volunteer recognition
While you are planning your activity, it is important to consider measures of success for your activity. Determine how you will evaluate the success of your program linking your success measures to your objectives (see Measuring success).