Episodic volunteering

A recent trend has been a shift away from regular, long-term volunteering to more episodic or project-based volunteering. While this has created significant challenges for many organizations that depend on consistently available volunteers, the reality is that more and more volunteers are looking for ways to get engaged in a short-term capacity.

This is especially true among younger volunteers, students, corporate volunteers and professionals, and may not always be about time availability but rather time of year - for example, lots of people seek to volunteer during the holiday season of November and December. Volunteers may have specific periods of time available, and therefore seek out volunteer projects that have clearly defined timeframes and goals.

The focus of a project-based volunteer role may be on the skills that people have to offer rather than the time they have to give, and are often set up to deliver a specific outcome such as:

  • running a community festival,
  • delivering a strategic plan
  • redesigning a website
  • putting together a grant application.

Entrepreneurial volunteering

Another recent trend has been an increase in individuals approaching organizations with their own self-defined projects or roles, also known as entrepreneurial volunteerism.

While these projects are more difficult to anticipate and may be more challenging to manage, they also present a great opportunity to engage volunteers who might not be interested in traditional service roles.

The injection of new ideas and activities can help a volunteer program move into more innovative models of engagement.


Tips for setting up project volunteering (Volunteering Queensland)

Template for project volunteering (Volunteering Queensland)

Encouraging entrepeneurial volunteering

Reflections of an interim episodic volunteer

Episodic volunteering and retention

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December is the perfect month to do some good by helping those most in need over the festive season.

Countless families are struggling at Christmastime and the pressure on them is often more challenging than any other time of year.

By sparing your time as a volunteer you could ease...

Joel Ainscough, Queensland University of Technology

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