Volunteering is part of Australia’s DNA as evidenced by the 2010 Voluntary Work Survey where 38% of adult women stated they volunteered (3.24 million women) and 34% of adult men stated they volunteered (2.85 million men) (Voluntary Work Survey, General Social Survey, ABS 2010). 6 million Australians is a formidable volunteer force and yet the capacity of the not for profit sector to manage that cohort is wilting under the pressure of scant resources, increased demand for the services of NFPs, and an increasingly difficult funding environment.

The not for profits I’ve worked with and for over the past 25 years have started to turn away volunteers or to charge people for the opportunity of working in the soup kitchen or charity office.  This is a shameful missed opportunity to leverage the significant skills and experiences of Australian businesspeople for the good of our communities. It is imperative that we unlock both the value that skilled volunteering can bring to time and resource poor NFP’s and the well documented health and well-being outcomes for the volunteers themselves, both of which are significant.

I believe that the solution is for leading corporates to commit to skilled volunteering programs that ensure a triple benefit – real and lasting outcomes for NFP’s and businesses here in Australia and across our region, for skilled business people themselves  who volunteer and for the corporates’ own community impact and indeed, their business bottom line.  Whilst there will always be the need for unskilled volunteering, be it painting fences or filling  envelopes, there is a moral imperative to unlock the extraordinary potential of skilled business people to volunteer their highly sought-after skills and experiences for the betterment of other businesses, not for profits and communities.

I’ve set ABV an ambitious target of redefining effective Corporate Social Responsibility through new and improved models of skilled volunteering.  We’ve focused on developing relationships with forward thinking corporate partners who are looking to create the next generation of impact and outcomes for their CSR investments.

Partners such as NAB in Australia, Newcrest Mining and the Bank of South Pacific in PNG have embarked on this journey with ABV and the early outcomes are heartening.  At the heart of our new approach to CSR are the extraordinary benefits and gifts of skilled volunteering.

We have two approaches to skilled volunteering: firstly, our work across the region strengthening communities through business relies on the generosity of our Skilled Business Professionals who donate their time to support businesses and institutions to strengthen and grow their profitability and impact.  We do this in collaboration with corporate partners who are looking for the next generation of CSR impact.

Secondly, our work in Australia relies on forward thinking corporate partners who see the triple benefit that skilled volunteering can provide to their community partners, to their staff who are highly engaged and motivated as volunteers and to their organisation’s community engagement, talent management and staff retention.  We design highly specialised programs that have a theory of change, a monitoring and evaluation framework and clearly defined outcomes. Our approach is not a solution off the shelf but rather a co-design process with our corporate partners to build skilled volunteering programs that meet their business needs and their CSR aims.

We don’t start a program, either in our region or in Australia, if we can’t be certain of outcomes for our community partners and businesses, a key element of our facilitation of the programs we design and run.

The exciting advent of IMPACT2030 in Australia and our region is an area that ABV is looking forward to supporting into 2020 and beyond.  We continue to find partners and opportunities for our new model, and we look forward to exploring the new frontiers in our region including supporting the digital economy, innovative youth employment pathways, tackling modern slavery and other challenges facing our region in the upcoming decade

Partnering with future focussed corporates across our region and here in Australia through the very special offering of skilled volunteers is ABV’s unique value-add to creating sustainable communities.

We strengthen communities through business, and this is the future we hope to see – an ethical and committed corporate sector working in the communities they are part of, for a better tomorrow.






Article by Liz Mackinlay, CEO of ABV


Australian Business Volunteers