Author: Anne Long, Greater Charitable Foundation CEO

Volunteering; an integral part of community support

An estimated total of 932 million hours was volunteered by Australian’s during 2016. This week we recognise the invaluable contribution these individuals make to our community as part of National Volunteer Week.

This year’s theme is, Give a little. Change a lot, which pays tribute to the almost six million Australians who make a significant social impact each year by giving their time to those in need.

What’s interesting to note is the rise of workplace staff engagement programs. With 63 per cent of large companies now having a workplace volunteering program in place, there’s a shift in people wanting to offer not only their time but also their skills.

Despite this trend, the 2016 State of Volunteering in Australia report indicated that there is a disconnect between the volunteering roles that people are interested in and the roles that organisations are offering. Many volunteer-dependent organisations utilise volunteers for their manpower rather than developing roles to suit individual skills and experience.

Skilled volunteering has a key role to play in ensuring the continued motivation of volunteers. Whilst the action of volunteering in itself is very altruistic, people are more likely to engage long-term in charitable activities if they are putting their knowledge to use and being mentally stimulated whilst making an impact.

From a corporate perspective, employers can do their bit to help facilitate this feeling amongst employees by establishing volunteer-based programs that channel and utilise people’s expertise.

This is something Greater Bank feels passionate about. Last year alone, more than 200 Greater Bank employees volunteered over 1000 hours to assist Greater Charitable Foundation’s charity partners with a variety of activities. These activities including assisting a local not-for-profit theatre company with a school selection process, providing support to a food rescue organisation and contributing to valuable medical research.

Our employees volunteering efforts have contributed significantly to all of our Greater Charitable Foundation’s not-for-profit partners. The majority of partners in fact consider the additional support that is provided to them via staff volunteering and corporate resourcing to be just as important as financial assistance.

Whilst volunteering should not be dependent on praise, acknowledging people for their effort and the impact they are making proves beneficial to everyone involved.

It is for this reason that three years ago, Greater Charitable Foundation established its own Employee Volunteer of the Year Awards to recognise and acknowledge staff members who go above and beyond in their capacity to ‘give back’.

The consensus amongst our employees is that to be a part of a company that supports the community is something to be proud of. But it is a two-way street, as without employee engagement and a willingness to volunteer our community contribution wouldn’t be as impactful. 

In the theme of this year’s National Volunteer Week, let’s all come together to ensure we celebrate those amongst us who give a little time, effort, energy and intellect to support others and in doing so help change a lot for those who need it most.