Engaging Volunteers for Your Arts Organisation
When it comes to arts philanthropy, it’s important not to overlook the value of giving time
This guide aims to assist arts organisations to understand the basics of arts volunteering: from identifying the best type of volunteer for their organisation, to establishing a volunteer management program and avenues for recruiting volunteers that align with your organisation’s values.
The value of volunteers
Volunteer involvement makes up a crucial part of the Australian arts sector and provides value to both art-loving individuals and arts organisations.
While volunteering allows individuals to culturally contribute to the Australian arts sector, a volunteer program provides arts organisations with access to personnel or specialised skills and resources to help them reach their goals. Cultivating these mutually beneficial relationships also helps to strengthen our community – the foundation of a healthy arts sector!
Further to this, an individual who also volunteers for your organisation is more likely to give – and when they do, they will give on average nearly twice as much as donors who don’t volunteer. Volunteers who have been associated with your organisation for a long period (or who have a strong connection with your organisation or its artform) may be more inclined to leave a gift in their will (bequest). Read more about bequests here.
Did you know?
- Corporate employees use only 50% of their time allocated by their employer to volunteering, leaving the equivalent of over 500 full-time staff, per year that are available for volunteering (Corporate Volunteering in Australia: a snapshot, Volunteering Australia, 2018)
Identifying the type of volunteering best for your organisation
Identifying the best type of volunteering for your organisation depends on the needs and goals you’re looking to meet. Arts organisation volunteers usually fit into one of the following categories:
1. Skills-based volunteering:
Also known as pro bono support, this is where a volunteer brings their professional skills to your organisation. Areas where a skilled-based volunteer could contribute include:
- Legal services
- Project management
- Marketing and PR
- Development and fundraising
And in the case of capital development:
Most arts organisations’ board members are volunteers, providing specialised professional skills to support the governance and strategic leadership of an organisation. You can read more about engaging your arts board here.
Volunteers may apply directly to volunteer positions in your organisation or may also become involved through a corporate placement. You will need to ensure the right resources and structure is in place to facilitate a successful corporate volunteer placement program.
2. General volunteering:
This is where a volunteer contributes their time for a task that may not require previous skills or experience. For a successful general volunteering program, training should be provided by the organisation. Roles that a person can provide a general volunteering service could include:
- Front desk duties
- Event information
Depending on the needs of your organisation, you may engage more than one of the above volunteer roles to help meet your organisation’s goals.
Facilitating and running your volunteer program
Facilitating a successful volunteer program requires skills and time allocated for recruitment and management of volunteers.
The following resources may help to shape or refine your volunteer program.
- The Arts Volunteering Toolkit by Voluntary Arts in the UK
- Our guide to managing skills-based volunteers
- 10 useful tips on managing volunteers in museums and collecting institutions by the University of Melbourne
- These resources from Our Community:
To understand how you might improve your volunteer management, ask the volunteers you are working with for feedback about their experience.
Recruiting the right volunteer
To guarantee your future volunteers are invested in your organisation’s vision, it’s important to outline clear guidelines about the role/s you’re recruiting for, along with the goals of your organisation. There are several online marketplaces connect volunteers with volunteering opportunities:
This is an initiative of Volunteering Australia designed for events, student, and corporate volunteering, to match people interested in volunteering with appropriate volunteering opportunities.
Good Company is s a unified workplace giving platform for corporate volunteering, donating, fundraising, and rewards.
Vollie seeks to redesign volunteering for the digital age, helping non-profits to connect their organisational needs with the skills and experience of modern-day professionals. Vollie projects are exclusively online, meaning that people can donate their skills and experience from anywhere in the world.
Pro bono Australia: VolunteerMatch
This is a service for skilled professionals seeking volunteer roles, opportunities and work with Australian and international not-for-profits. This includes board positions.
Our Community offers matching for board positions through the Institute of Community Directors.
This community legal centre maintains panels of volunteer lawyers in all States, who provide legal advice to its subscribers either face to face or via telephone.
ArtsHub is an online source for arts jobs, industry news, reviews and data for the art industry, where volunteering opportunities can be advertised.
Here you will find a national database of volunteering opportunities, under industry and interest area.
Many corporate employers also have formal employee volunteering programs.
Just like donors, volunteers have different motivations for contributing. Get to know your volunteers by asking what they hope to get out of the opportunity. This will make sure it’s a satisfying experience for both parties
If this guide has inspired you to either establish, or reimagine, your organisation’s volunteer program, we suggest exploring the resources provided by Volunteering Australia. Browse their website and contact the office in your state and territory to access a range of information and support.