"Lady Bountiful" and the "Virtual Volunteers": the changing face of social service volunteering.
As part of its contribution to the International Year of Volunteers 2001, the Ministry of Social Policy (now the Ministry of Social Development) undertook a review of literature relating to the voluntary social service sector, to examine changes affecting the sector and to consider their implications for patterns of volunteering (Wilson 2001). The review examines how the widespread introduction of the "contract culture" has influenced volunteering within voluntary social service organisations, identifies changes in the level (number of volunteers) and nature (type of activities undertaken) of such volunteering, describes the possible reasons for, and potential consequences of, changes in the level and nature of volunteering, and considers the future role of volunteers within voluntary social service organisations. The review focuses on volunteering within medium-to-large social service organisations, consequently exploring trends in only a small part of the diverse voluntary social service sector. The main focus is on changes over the past two decades since the introduction of contracting; the effects of broader economic, demographic and social changes are also considered. Due to the limited amount of New Zealand material available, most of the literature reviewed is from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (these countries having experienced similar changes). While the international literature provides important insights, suggestions for further local research are outlined.
There have been a number of significant changes in the environment in which the voluntary social service sector operates, including changes to its relationship with government, changes in labour force participation (especially by women) and in the nature of work, and wide-ranging changes in social attitudes and behaviours. Some commentators, including people in the voluntary social service sector, have expressed concern about the potential impact of such changes on patterns of volunteering. Under its strategic research programme, and as part of its contribution to the International Year of Volunteers 2001, the Ministry of Social Policy (2) (MSP) undertook a review of the literature relating to the voluntary social service sector, to examine these changes and consider their implications for patterns of volunteering (Wilson 2001). This paper presents the main findings from the review.
The review had four objectives:
* to examine how the introduction of the "contract culture" (3) has influenced volunteering in voluntary social service organisations;
* to identify the changes that have occurred in the level (number of volunteers) and nature (type of volunteering activities undertaken) of formal social service volunteering;
* to examine the possible reasons for, and potential consequences of, any changes in the level and nature of volunteering in the voluntary social service sector; and
* to consider the future role of volunteers within voluntary social service organisations.
The review covers volunteering within medium-to-large voluntary social service organisations, focusing on changes over the past two decades -- since the widespread introduction of contracting for social services -- and considers the effects of broader economic, demographic and social changes. While debates over the nature of volunteering (and the meaning of the term itself) outside this context are acknowledged, the review explores the trends in only a small part of the complex and diverse voluntary social service sector.
Due to the limited amount of New Zealand material available, most of the literature in the review is from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (4), as there are similarities in the political, economic, demographic and social changes experienced in these countries since the 1950s. While the international literature provides some important insights, further local research is recommended.
Outline of this Paper
The "Background" section defines the terms "volunteering" and "the voluntary sector", and presents the structural/operational framework for discussing the voluntary sector (used to shape the review). Concepts relating to volunteering (e.g. the "dominant status" model) and differing cultural perceptions of volunteering are described, followed by a discussion of the limitations of available survey data. The next section of the paper explores the "contract culture" and its impact on the volunteering sector, and includes a discussion of volunteer workloads, expectations and demands. This is followed by a section that examines the economic, demographic and social influences on volunteering, and another section that speculates on volunteering in the future. The paper concludes by recommending areas for future research.
Voluntary social service organisations in New Zealand have traditionally played an innovative role in responding to community needs. Moore and Tennant (1997) describe the voluntary sector and the state as having complementary roles prior to the 1980s, with services delivered to a diverse range of groups through grant funding. In the past two decades the sector has taken a more central role in the provision of social services to the community through the introduction of contracting, which changed the nature of government and voluntary sector relationships (Suggate 1995:1).
The establishment of the Community and Voluntary Sector Working Party (CVSWP) by the Government in 2000 highlighted the importance of the voluntary sector and the need to establish a positive and effective working relationship between the government and community partners. The CVSWP was established to consider "the scope of a proposed agreement between government and Iwi/Maori, community and voluntary organisations" (MSP 2001:10).
As the voluntary social services sector continues to play a significant role in social service provision, it is essential to have an understanding of the capacity of the sector, especially given concerns expressed that more is being asked of the voluntary organisations at the same time that their resources -- particularly their volunteer base -- may be shrinking (Malcolm et al. 1993, MSP 2001).
"Volunteering" -- What does it Mean?
There is no standard definition of the term "volunteering". For the purpose of this review, the following definition has been adopted:
Activities or work done of a person's free will for the benefit of others (beyond the immediate family) for no payment other than, in some cases, a small honorarium and/or expenses. (Gaskin and Davis Smith 1997:7)
The three key elements in this definition are free will, benefit to others and lack of payment. However, there is no consensus as to whether volunteering refers only to unpaid work done for an organisation, or whether it also includes informal volunteering activities outside any organisational context (e.g. babysitting). Harris (1996:55) notes that "how people perceive their own and others' unpaid activities appears to be a function of cultural factors including race and class"; specifically, in the New Zealand context, there are
differences in how Maori and Pakeha (5) conceptualise "volunteering", as discussed in a later section.
The Voluntary Sector
The "voluntary sector" operates in a space outside of the public/state, private/market and household sectors and is variously referred to as the "community sector", the "third sector", the "charitable sector", the "civil society sector" and the "not-for-profit sector".
Within New Zealand's voluntary sector, organisations vary in size and structure from large corporate national organisations with hundreds of (paid) staff and large budgets, to small volunteer-based organisations operating as collectives and running on very small budgets (MSP 2001). Organisations operate in a variety of arenas, from social services to sports, to arts and the environment. Kendall and Knapp (1995:66) describe the voluntary sector as a "loose and baggy monster", due to the lack of clarity about the terminology, definitions and classifications relating to organisations operating in this third space.
Salamon and Anheier's (1992:135) structural/operational definition of the voluntary sector has been used to shape this review. The "third sector" is thus defined as a collection of organisations that are:
* formal -- "the organisation has some institutional reality";
* private -- "institutionally separate from government";
* not profit distributing -- "not returning profits generated to their owners or directors";
* self-governing -- "equipped to control their own activities"; and
* voluntary -- "involving some meaningful degree of voluntary participation, either in the actual conduct of the agency's activities or in the management of its affairs".
Within this definition, the review focuses specifically on volunteering that takes place within voluntary social service organisations. This reflects the visibility of the formal sector, the greater access to information about that sector, and the closer links between the formal sector and government.
It is acknowledged that, by adopting this focus on the formal sector, the review necessarily excludes informal volunteering, volunteering for government or private for-profit organisations, and volunteering within formal voluntary organisations that do not provide social services.
Formal Volunteering: The Dominant Status Model
Current literature and research suggest that a range of people get involved in volunteering, although the concept of volunteering is frequently associated in the public mind with volunteering for formal organisations, and the "middle-class, middle-aged, do-gooder" stereotype -- the "Lady Bountiful". (6) Davis Smith (1992:89) suggests that "people from lower socio-economic groups are failing to recognise their activities in the community as volunteering, seeing them instead as examples of informal caring and neighbourliness".
Lemon et al. (1972) argue that people who participate in formal volunteering roles tend to occupy a "dominant status" position, and many authors since have identified correlations between "dominant status" -- such as being male, higher income, from a dominant ethnic group, with a high level of education -- and involvement in formal volunteering (Davis Smith 1992, 1998a, Gaskin and Davis Smith 1997, Goss 1999, Zwart and Perez 1999). The 1996 New Zealand Census data supports the "dominant status" argument. For example, those with higher incomes have higher participation rates in more formalised types of voluntary work such as administration and policy work, while the unemployed have higher participation rates in informal volunteering such as household work and childcare (Zwart and Perez 1999).
People who do not fit within the "dominant status" model -- for example, women, those in other ethnic groups, the unemployed, and those from lower socio-economic groups -- certainly do volunteer, but are more likely to do so outside the structures of traditional formal volunteering.
Gaskin and Davis Smith (1997:110) argue that:
We must avoid drawing the conclusion that the less educated and well-off rarely volunteer. Their contribution to their communities may be more informal but it is no less significant than that of formal volunteers.
The term "volunteering" is a culturally based as well as a class-based concept (Davis Smith 1992). Volunteering and the voluntary sector are essentially Pakeha concepts. As Suggate (1995:10) notes, "one of the challenges in defining New Zealand's voluntary sector arises from different concepts in Pakeha and Maori culture". This is illustrated by the following quote:
When I get up as a Pakeha and mow my lawns, I mow my lawns ... When I go down the road to the disabled children's home and mow their lawns I volunteer to do something for the other ... When my friend Huhana gets up and mows her lawns, she mows her lawns, when she goes down to the Kohanga Reo and mows lawns, she mows her lawns. When she moves across and mows the lawns at the Marae and the Hauora, she mows her lawns -- because there is no sense of "other". (Stansfield 2001)
This distinction between personal caring for family members and contributing to the wider society is "similarly blurred in other cultural groups", for example in Pacific peoples' communities (MSP 2001:36).
While there are high levels of volunteering amongst Maori -- higher than among Pakeha (Statistics New Zealand 1999, Zwart and Perez 1999) -- a literature review focusing on volunteering within voluntary social service organisations will not capture the dynamics and changes in Maori volunteering. As Te Korowai Aroha Aotearoa Inc. et al. (1999:11) observe:
There is ... no direct equivalent to the term "volunteering" in Te Reo Maori, and it has been suggested that this is probably a reason for serious underreporting of voluntary work by Maori ...
It may be that in recent years migrants have become an increasing source of volunteers (Auckland Volunteer Centre 1999). However, there is a lack of data on migrants and volunteering; this is an area requiring further research.
As the terms "volunteering" and particularly "social service sector volunteering" are entrenched in class-based and cultural assumptions and stereotypes, it is acknowledged that by using these terms this review describes only a small part of the total volume of volunteering activity in New Zealand.
Limitations of Survey Data
To record accurately changes over time in the level and nature of volunteering, it would be necessary to have a series of studies that consistently used the same definitions, terms and methodology. Unfortunately, this is not available in New Zealand. Variations in Census questions relating to voluntary activities have resulted in markedly differing estimates of the number of people involved in voluntary work. All recent Censuses have gathered some volunteering information, but each Census has used different definitions of volunteering, meaning that survey data tracking changes in the level and nature of volunteering are not available (Statistics New Zealand 1993, Woods 1998, Zwart and Perez 1999). The 1999 Time Use Survey provides snapshot data on volunteering, but again is unable to offer information on changes over time. Neither survey collects data in a way that allows for consideration of changes in the social service sector specifically, though iterations of the Time Use Survey would go some way towards this, as it records the type of non-profit organisation for which work is done.
To supplement gaps in the New Zealand data, information about trends in other Western countries (Australia, United Kingdom, United States) was sought. Both the United Kingdom and the United States have time-series data on volunteering. In the United Kingdom, the data indicate a slight decline in participation in formal voluntary activities (Davis Smith 1998a), while in the United States volunteering appears to be increasing somewhat in the second half of the 1990s (Independent Sector 1996). However, it is difficult to get a clear comparative picture of current shifts in the level and nature of social service volunteering; as with New Zealand surveys, there are variations in definitions, terms and methodology used, and neither survey collects data in a way that allows for consideration of changes in the social service sector specifically.
THE "CONTRACT CULTURE" AND CHANGES IN VOLUNTEERING
There have been significant shifts in the roles played by the government and the voluntary sector in social service provision in New Zealand since the introduction of the "contract culture" in the 1980s. Similar shifts are also evident across a number of other countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This section reviews some of the key changes and their impact on the level and nature of volunteering. These findings cannot be considered independently of other social and economic changes, explored later in this review.
During the economic and social reforms of the 1980s and 1990s, the New Zealand government moved to increased "contracting out" and "purchase-of-service contracting" for social services (Malcolm et al. 1993, Nowland-Foreman 1997, Saville-Smith and Bray 1994, Suggate 1995). The essential feature of the new contracting regime was the shift from organisation grant funding to project contract funding; this was formalised by the then Department of Social Welfare (DSW) in 1991 (see DSW Circular Memorandum 1991).
Responses to those changes have been complex -- varying across locations, between organisations, and even within organisations. Much of the literature is speculative and may oversimplify the impact that contracting has had on the voluntary sector. However, it appears that the contracting process is closely identified with characteristics of uniformity, standardisation and bureaucracy. There was increased formalisation of the relationship between service providers (voluntary organisations) and purchasers (government) for the purchase of increasingly government-defined outputs (Malcolm et al. 1993, McKinlay Douglas Limited 1998, MSP 2001, Smith 1996); and an expectation that voluntary organisations involved in formal government service delivery under contract to the state would regularly report on specified outputs, performance, accountability and auditing (Saville-Smith and Bray 1994).
The need for an accounting and reporting infrastructure to support organisations engaged in the contract culture, and the associated need for skilled staff to perform these functions, has led to an expansion in the size and scale of many organisations (Kramer 1994, Nowland-Foreman 1997). Compared with small agencies, large organisations are likely to have the internal infrastructure and resources to cope with additional demands from funders (Saville-Smith and Bray 1994). Funders may favour organisations with professional expertise, a high profile, an established reputation, and organisational procedures and structures similar to their own (Gronbjerg 1997, Gutch 1992, Saville-Smith and Bray 1994, Taylor and Lewis 1997).
As voluntary organisations become professional and standardised in their operation, and their accountability requirements to government increase, Nowland-Foreman (1997:25) contends that they are cajoled into:
Becoming more like government -- in their recruiting practices, in their accountability procedures, in their record keeping ... and so on.
Munford and Sanders (1999:73) also discuss the impact on the voluntary sector of the shift from funding through subsidies and grants to funding through contracts:
This change involves a redefinition of the nature of the relationship between the state and not-for-profit providers wherein these providers become agents delivering core services on behalf of the Crown rather than independent providers who receive financial support for the delivery of services identified as being of importance.
Government has moved from investment in voluntary organisations to purchase of core government services, with voluntary organisations becoming alternative rather than complementary service providers (Lewis 1996, Taylor and Lewis 1997). Nowland-Foreman (1997:8) draws on Nyland (1993) and suggests that some voluntary organisations have shifted from being regarded as autonomous representatives of the community towards being treated merely as convenient conduits for public services -- "little fingers of the state".
The Literature Describing the "Contract Culture" on Volunteering
The lack of information on the impact of contracting on volunteering has often been noted in the wider literature, together with calls for further research on the topic (Davis Smith 1997, Russell and Scott 1997), although recently a number of empirical studies have been carried out in other countries (ACOSS 1996, Hedley and Davis Smith 1994, Lewis 1996, Russell and Scott 1997, Taylor and Lewis 1997).
New Zealand studies addressing changes in the voluntary sector in the past two decades include research by the NZFVWO (Malcolm et al. 1993, Saville-Smith and Bray 1994), a review by Ernst and Young (1996) of the viability of organisations contracted to the New Zealand Community Funding Agency, and four studies that surveyed organisations in particular cities (Cull 1993, Fitzgerald and Cameron 1989, Isaacs 1993, Johns 1998).
According to the literature (both speculative and empirical), the contract culture has initiated a number of diverse and often contradictory trends in both the number of people who volunteer and the level of demand for volunteers.
Professionalisation -- Advantages and Disadvantages
The introduction of contracts in the voluntary sector has initiated the evolution of a professional culture within many voluntary organisations in New Zealand and in other countries. Some volunteers' roles have become progressively formalised, with the introduction of job descriptions, supervision and performance reviews (Russell and Scott 1997). In many cases, there has been an associated increase in the training and skill-development opportunities available to volunteers (Baldock 1991, Richardson 1993). Russell and Scott (1997:8) conclude that "there is a direct relationship between the proportion of respondents reporting increased workload, formalisation or training and the proportion reporting increased status and satisfaction". Thus it seems the demands for quality control and output specification associated with contracting have encouraged some organisations to take seriously the role of volunteers and the associated needs for training and support, with a corresponding rise in the motivation of volunteers (Davis Smith 1997).
However, not all volunteers have embraced the new culture of volunteering; some organisations have experienced difficulties recruiting volunteers in a "more formal, controlled environment" (Davis Smith 1997). Factors that have previously been identified as contributing to increased motivation of some volunteers (such as enhanced training opportunities) may also contribute to decreased motivation amongst others. Russell and Scott (1997:46) state that "formalisation of volunteers' roles arising as a result of contracts may be the antithesis of why people volunteer", with some volunteers becoming "demotivated" by fundamental changes in their roles, or concerned that the essential characteristics of voluntary activity appear to be changing.
Volunteer Workload -- Expectations and Demands
As governments have progressively withdrawn from direct provision of social services, agencies in the voluntary sector have been contracted to fill the gap. This has resulted in a build-up of expectations and demands on volunteers regarding the type of work undertaken, the amount of time devoted to volunteering, and the long-term nature of their commitment, as well as pressures of increased accountability and responsibility.
Some people have come along just wanting to "make a cup of tea" and found themselves in the executive and becoming legally liable for contracts. This is just too complicated and worrying for them. (MSP 2001:166)
The nature of the workload has changed in some cases, with volunteers now expected to undertake the "paper work" associated with contracting, rather than the "real work" they had volunteered for. The short-term nature of many contracts and the need to regularly apply for funding can provide a level of uncertainty within organisations, and add to volunteers' workload and stress levels.
As the demands associated with volunteering change, volunteers may question or re-evaluate their role within an organisation, the costs and benefits associated with volunteering, and whether they are prepared to continue to contribute their time and effort to that organisation (Russell and Scott 1997, Taylor and Lewis 1997). This appears, from evidence from the United Kingdom, to be particularly the case for management committee volunteers, who are especially susceptible to increased demands and obligations in terms of their roles and responsibilities within a contracting framework (Davis Smith 1997, Hedley and Davis Smith 1994, Lewis 1996, Russell and Scott 1997, Russell et al. 1995).
Demand for Volunteers
The most important question about volunteering behaviour is not whether the absolute numbers of volunteers have risen or fallen, but whether these numbers have kept pace with the level of demand for volunteers by voluntary organisations. A number of studies suggest that the demand for volunteers has increased with the expansion of voluntary organisations into social service delivery (Baldock 1991, Isaacs 1993, Malcolm et al. 1993). O'Brien et al. (1997) report increased reliance on voluntary labour as a common response to cuts in government funding.
It appears that the demand for volunteers in many organisations is increasingly targeted to volunteers with specialist skills, as tasks associated with contracting (e.g. contract negotiation and performance reporting) require people with relevant experience and specialist skills (Billis and Harris 1992, Russell and Scott 1997, Suggate 1995, Taylor and Lewis 1997). Several submissions to the CVSWP stated that there was not a shortage of volunteers per se, but rather a shortage of volunteers with professional expertise (MSP 2001). This shortage of skilled volunteers has also been noted overseas (Billis and Harris 1992, Russell and Scott 1997).
The move by voluntary organisations to recruit more professional volunteers also signals a shift in the social and demographic composition of volunteers, particularly for management committees (Russell and Scott 1997).
Demand for Paid Staff
Although many reports point towards an increased demand for volunteers as a result of contracting, there are also reports that in some cases volunteers are becoming increasingly redundant to voluntary organisations and are being replaced by paid workers (Billis and Harris 1992, Ernst and Young 1996, Hedley and Davis Smith 1994, Russell and Scott 1997, Saville-Smith and Bray 1994). In some instances the shift towards employing paid staff may be because volunteers cannot be recruited. However, much of the rhetoric in the literature refers to organisations making an active choice to replace volunteers with paid staff as part of the "professionalisation" of the sector.
Paid workers are regarded as performing a better standard of work, bringing higher qualifications to the job, and offering greater continuity and stability -- characteristics often identified as crucial when entering into government contracts (6 and Kendall 1997, Blacksell and Phillips 1994, Davis Smith 1997). However, a correlation has been observed between the introduction of paid staff within voluntary organisations and the subsequent fall in volunteer commitment (Billis 1993, Billis and Harris 1992) and marginalisation of volunteers (Russell and Scott 1997).
ECONOMIC, DEMOGRAPHIC AND SOCIAL INFLUENCES ON VOLUNTEERING
It is important to consider the impact of wider economic, demographic and social changes over the past 50 years on the level and nature of volunteering, and how these broad shifts may influence future trends.
Since the 1960s, women -- traditionally the source of volunteer labour -- have been entering the labour force in greater numbers, thus reducing the pool of women available for unpaid work across the Western industrialised countries (Freedman 1996, Putnam 1995, Warburton 1997). Some Australian authors identify a trend toward women having fewer or no children, which has further impact since much of women's voluntary activity has typically been connected with their children (Lyons and Hocking 2000, Zappala 2000).
Wider changes in workforce participation over the past 30 years may also have influenced the level and nature of volunteering. There is a growing divide between those working long hours with little free time and those who are work-poor and time-rich. The concentration of work into the middle years has both reduced the availability of traditional volunteers and opened the possibility that a new pool of volunteers may emerge amongst those who fall outside the "middle" age range (Pusey 2000).
Population ageing brings with it both an increased demand for volunteers to address the needs of frail or disabled older people, and an "untapped resource" of potential future volunteers in a population of retired people who are better educated, healthier and living longer than previous generations (Cnaan and Amrofell 1994, Gaskin and Davis Smith 1997, Goss 1999). In the United States, a number of state and private sector programmes have been initiated to encourage older people to volunteer (Chambre 1993, Freedman 1996). This is seen as having an additional potential benefit as older volunteers tend to volunteer more hours per week than other age groups (Zwart and Perez 1999). Yet a rise in the number of older people may not automatically translate into a rise in the number of older volunteers. People who have never volunteered may have no desire to start volunteering once they retire (Chambre 1993, Cnaan and Cwikel 1992). Older people may choose to stay in paid employment, may choose other ways of keeping active and contributing to society, or may not be able to afford to volunteer (Cnaan and Cwikel 1992).
Young people have been identified as relatively "time-rich" and a potential source of volunteers. Young people interviewed for the ACOSS (1996:48) study believed "volunteering was becoming a far more common practice in their age group as the economic situation made it increasingly difficult to secure employment without some work experience". Pusey (2000:28) notes that:
Young people in many occupations (social workers, teachers, solicitors, and others, especially in the private sector) are under enormous pressure to contribute unpaid volunteer hours -- sometimes for years -- in the name of "work experience".
Across a number of Western countries, a new rhetoric has emerged about the need for unemployed people to undertake voluntary work, thereby "doing something for the community" while increasing their work skills at the same time (Gaskin and Davis Smith 1997). However, questions have been raised about whether "work for the dole" initiatives are examples of volunteering, as individuals may not be volunteering of their own "free will" (Cordingley 2000, Garnham 1999, Oppenheimer and Warburton 2000). "Work for the dole" initiatives also raise a range of issues for the relationship between the non-profit sector and volunteers. These issues include the costs associated with placements for sponsoring agencies, the possibility that work for the dole would undermine existing voluntary contributions, and the potential for changes in the relationship between agencies and clients due to a requirement for agencies to police clients' welfare eligibility (Adams 1997).
A number of authors suggest there has been a decline in societal ties and "sense of community" that may have reduced the desire of people to volunteer (O'Brien 1997, Putnam 1993, 1995, Riddell 1997). This has been linked to a range of factors, including increased mobility, more women in the workforce, economic policies stressing individualism, and declining rural communities (Cox 2000, Hedley and Davis Smith 1992, Gilling 1999, Lyons and Hocking 2000, O'Brien 1997, Putnam 1993, Randerson 1992, Riddell 1997, Zappalla 2000).
Schudson (1996) suggests that people may now be more episodically involved in volunteering, coming together for brief but intense periods of civic activity. He also suggests that people may now be involved in fewer organisations, but be more deeply involved.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL -- VOLUNTEERING IN THE FUTURE
There are multiple patterns of change in the level and nature of volunteering across the voluntary social service sector. In some areas, there appears to have been a move away from the recruitment of "traditional" social service volunteers (often characterised as women who are not engaged in paid work) to targeting other "work-poor/time-rich" groups outside the paid workforce (such as older retired people and young people seeking work experience). However, while there is talk of a shift in the source of volunteers, it is uncertain whether the older "baby boomers" and the younger unemployed will replace the traditional volunteer base. The generation that is currently ageing, for example, may be less civic-minded and choose not to volunteer.
There appears to be a sense that some parts of the voluntary social service sector are at a "crossroads", as the traditional volunteer base declines and as difficulties are encountered in recruiting new volunteers. In some cases, the difficulty is not just finding any volunteers, but finding volunteers with the right skills to assist the organisation in the new professional "corporate" framework of the contract culture. Some organisations appear to be increasingly looking for a "new" type of volunteer as opposed to the traditional "charity" volunteer. The following section explores possible future models of volunteering identified by a number of authors.
Social Enterprise and Charity Volunteers
Australian authors Zappala, Parker and Green (2001) have developed the "charity" and "social enterprise" models of volunteering. Other authors have also developed a similar model of "traditional" and "new" volunteers to describe current changes (McDonald and Mutch 2000, McDonald and Warburton 2000, Warburton and Mutch 2000). These models can be used to explore possible future trends in the level and nature of social service volunteering, and for initiating further discussion.
"Charity volunteers" are traditional types of volunteers who perform tasks on a regular basis. They have typically been married women (with children) outside the paid workforce, or older retired people.
There has been a shift in the types of skills required by some social service voluntary organisations. Organisations engaged in the "contract culture" frequently want people with professional skills. These organisations may no longer need the traditional "charity" volunteers and instead may prefer to target and recruit the new "social enterprise" volunteers.
"Social enterprise" volunteers do not fit within the framework of traditional social service volunteering. Social enterprise volunteers tend to be "younger, highly skilled professionals employed fulltime" (Zappala et al. 2001:5). The nature of the work undertaken by social enterprise volunteers is also different from traditional charity volunteering. For example, volunteers may work on a particular project at home for an intense period of a week, once a year. McDonald and Mutch (2000:135) also found that "new" volunteers were "happy to deliver their time and their service but don't want to be part of that more formalised structure". Social service volunteers are likely to be highly skilled and, as "outside experts", may be used to train in-house staff (Zappala et al. 2001).
Culp and Nolan's (2000) survey identified the following common trends in the shift away from traditional volunteers: "virtual volunteering" through the Internet, corporate volunteering, short-term episodic volunteering, and the need for volunteer opportunities that reflect volunteers' skills and abilities.
As McDonald and Mutch (2000:136) report: "The older volunteers essentially complemented a regime or environment which ... is disappearing. The new volunteers complement the emerging regime."
This review has attempted to explore the level and nature of volunteering within the voluntary social service sector and the potential reasons for any changes. It has relied on literature that has focused predominantly on medium-to-large social service organisations and has therefore explored the trends in only a small part of the complex and diverse voluntary social service sector.
It is clear from the literature that the introduction of a "contract culture" has influenced the level and nature of volunteering within many organisations. There have been demands and pressures on volunteers to adapt to the new "corporate" environment, and they have met with varying responses from the current pool of volunteers. Some people have felt motivated by the more professional approach. Other "traditional" volunteers are reported to be having difficulty adapting to the pressures and demands associated with the new "business-like" environment.
A range of economic and social changes may have also influenced the availability of people for voluntary work. An important factor has been change in patterns of women's workforce participation, which reduces the availability of the traditional pool of volunteers in the voluntary social service sector. Other labour market changes have also had implications for the supply of volunteers. The concentration of paid work in the middle years of life has produced a pool of younger and older people who are work-poor and time-rich, who may potentially be available for voluntary work. There is some uncertainty, however, as to whether people in these groups can be recruited as volunteers in sufficient numbers to replace the depleted pool of traditional volunteers (the middle-class, middle-aged women who are now increasingly moving into paid employment. There is also speculation that there has been a decline in "social capital", with people now less prepared to engage in their community.
Some organisations are attempting to shift away from traditional volunteers by recruiting paid staff or volunteers with specialist business skills and knowledge. In some instances, these volunteers are drawn increasingly from "corporate volunteering" partnerships between the private sector and voluntary organisations. As corporate business begins to see commercial advantages in being associated with community service activities, there arises a range of opportunities for voluntary agencies to build partnerships with business and gain leverage from the increased access to skills and expertise that business has to offer.
Although the literature offers some insights, there are identifiable gaps that show a need for further research and discussion on the future of volunteering within social service organisations and within the wider context. The key areas for future research would include:
* further examination of the "social enterprise" and "charity" models, how they might apply in New Zealand, and their implications for volunteers and the voluntary sector;
* differences in volunteering issues faced by voluntary social service organisations of various sizes, structures and types, including those outside the "contracting culture";
* differences in volunteering issues faced by different sections of organisations such as management, administration and delivery;
* the appropriate framework for discussing and researching the level and nature of volunteering within Maori and Pacific peoples' communities; and
* the relationships between paid and volunteer staff, and formal and informal volunteering, particularly in the context of changes in the role and operation of voluntary social service organisations.
Exploration of these and related issues may lead to greater knowledge about the world of social service volunteering, which is changing in complex and diverse ways that are not currently well understood.
The authors would like to acknowledge Garth Nowland-Foreman and John Stansfield for providing comprehensive reviews of an early draft of the main report on which this paper was based. We thank Sue Buckley for her thorough work on the development of the reference list. Thanks are also due to colleagues within the Ministry of Social Development's Research Unit and Community Policy Group, for their support of the project and their contributions to the main report.
(2) Now the Ministry of Social Development.
(3) The "contract culture" refers to the use of formalised contracts by the government to purchase social services from the voluntary sector.
(4) In further reviews, it would be valuable to extend this focus to other countries. Canada, for example, has carried out national research on volunteering (http://www.nsgvp.org/about.htm#survey).
(5) Pakeha: "New Zealanders of a European background, whose cultural values and behaviour have been primarily formed from the experience of being a member of the dominant group of New Zealand" (Spoonley 1988:63-64).
(6) "Lady Bountiful" is a character from a play by George Farquhar. "She is a rich country lady who devotes her time to helping her less fortunate neighbours. She has become a proverbial figure," (Bloomsbury Dictionary of English Literature, 1997).
6, P. and J. Kendall (1997) "Introduction" in P. 6 and J. Kendall (eds.) The Contract Culture in Public Services: Studies from Britain, Europe and the USA, Arena, Aldershot.
Adams, K. (1997) Workfare: A Discussion Paper, New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services, Wellington.
Auckland Volunteer Centre (1999) Final Report -- 1998/99, Volunteering Towards Employment Project, Auckland Volunteer Centre, Auckland.
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Carla Wilson (1) Anne Kerslake Hendricks Rachel Smithies Knowledge Management Group Ministry of Social Development
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|Publication:||Social Policy Journal of New Zealand|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2001|
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