COVID-19 has impacted the volunteering sector substantially with almost two thirds of volunteers estimated to have stopped volunteering between February and April 2020 new research shows. The researchers estimate that this reduction in volunteering is equivalent to 12.2 million hours per week.
This research is the first analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on volunteers and volunteering across Australia. The paper, commissioned by Volunteering Australia, from the Australian National University (ANU) Centre for Social Research and Methods undertook analysis of the experience of volunteers during COVID-19 to date.
Volunteering Australia CEO Adrienne Picone said, “It is important to recognise the role that volunteering plays in people’s lives, with the report showing that those who continued to volunteer had a significantly and substantially smaller decline in life satisfaction and psychological distress than those who stopped or who never volunteered in the first place. This suggests that maintaining volunteering activity appears to be a very important protective factor.
“Overall, these findings are significant in showing the impact that the COVID-19 situation has on volunteers. The scale of the cessation of volunteering reinforces the challenge ahead in reinvigorating volunteering in the future. The findings also emphasise the incredible power of the volunteer workforce and its contribution to the economic and social wellbeing of Australia. The nation needs these volunteers back supporting their communities.”