COVID-19 impact research program
The COVID-19 impact research program aims to understand how COVID-19 is affecting volunteering and to provide evidence for our Reinvigorating Volunteering advocacy campaign.
A new research paper from Volunteering Australia aims to provide a more detailed portrayal of the volunteering experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound implications for the volunteering ecosystem as we have witnessed a dramatic decline in volunteering. Whilst this data is without doubt cause for concern, it is not the full story.
Volunteering Australia has been working in partnership with the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods (CSRM) to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on volunteering. New data suggests that voluntary work has been impacted harder by the COVID-19 recession than paid work. Research shows a much greater decrease in the proportion of Australians who undertook volunteering than the decline in the proportion of Australians in paid work.
New Volunteering Australia data shows volunteering is not ‘snapping back,’ even as COVID restrictions lift, with nearly three quarters (72%) 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 (65.9%) stopped volunteering, equating to an estimated loss of 12.2 million hours per week.
Volunteering Australia commissioned the Australian National University (ANU) Centre for Social Research and Methods to undertake analysis of the experience of volunteers during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their analysis draws on the ANUpoll which involves a regular survey of around 3000 Australians that produces nationally representative results. The decline in paid work because of COVID-19 has been the focus of much analysis, however this research is the first analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on volunteers and volunteering across Australia.