Better volunteer management can tackle social sector's manpower shortage: Study

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, who is the adviser to the National Council of Social Service, speaking at the Devan Nair Institute of Employment and Employability on May 27, 2019. PHOTO: NATIONAL COUNCIL OF SOCIAL SERVICE

SINGAPORE - Voluntary organisations can increase their volunteer numbers - and hold onto people for longer - by having a dedicated manager in place to handle them, a study has found.

A two-year study of 10 organisations found that when they hired a volunteer manager, their volunteer pool increased in total from 27,000 to 41,000. Volunteer hours increased from 189,000 to 422,000 hours.

The study, conducted by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) from 2016 to 2018, aimed to pool together the industry's best practices.

The results were released on Monday (May 27) during a networking session at the Devan Nair Institute of Employment and Employability.

Mr Andrew Lim, director of volunteer resource optimisation at NCSS, said that developing social service agencies' volunteer management capabilities will help to soften the impact of a shortage in manpower.

"The sector, on its own, is unlikely to be able to meet the manpower needs, with the evolving social needs," he said. "Enhancing volunteer management capabilities and recruiting volunteers based on needs will help cushion the impact of a manpower shortage."

Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo last year predicted that the social service sector will need about 16,000 professionals this year, 1,000 more than last year.

According to a separate survey conducted by NCSS last year, only 38 per cent of 242 social service agencies had more than 100 regular volunteers.

With the help of the volunteer managers, the ten participating agencies used technology and a structured framework to improve their volunteer recruitment and retention process, as well as serve 60 per cent more beneficiaries.

The study included in-depth interviews with each of the 10 participating agencies' executive directors and volunteer managers, as well as a survey with more than 500 of their volunteers.

One of the agencies involved, social service organisation Awwa, saw its volunteer pool increase from 67 to 726. This led to a 67 per cent in the number of beneficiaries the organisation served.

Another charity, Lions Befrienders, launched a volunteer training programme with the support of its volunteer manager. As a result, its volunteer hours have risen from 5,900 to 22,500 over the past year.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, who is the adviser to NCSS, hosted the networking session. He said: "Better volunteer management leads to volunteers who are more engaged and committed. With higher volunteer commitment, social service agencies and services users get better support."

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