The collective noun for a group of volunteers

Oct 29, 2020

In 2018 James Breene of St John of God Hospital in Bendigo, decided to run a project to come up with a collective noun for a group of volunteers. I was fascinated when I heard about this and was truly moved by the outcome, by how perfect a description it was for the volunteer context, so I reached out to James to learn more.

James put the question to his volunteer team, along with other Volunteer Coordinators / Managers from the health sector “What should be the collective noun for a group of volunteers?” Participants were asked to vote on their favourite and could add new options too.

The winning term was “A Constellation” with “A blessing” a close runner up.
Some of the other interesting options were; A chorus, a bevy, a collective, a group, a treasure, an army, a flight (an in angels), a pomegranate and just one single vote for a headache! Well we've all had those days. 

On reflecting on the selection of a constellation, James said,...

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New data on Volunteering in Australia

Oct 05, 2020

Last week The Australia Bureau of Statistics released data from the General Social Survey completed in 2019.

This data was collected pre Covid and while the impact of what we have experienced this year significant, it is still great to have some updated information around volunteering in Australia, as this has not been updated since the previous census (2016).

The biggest news story here is that overall we have seen a decline in volunteering since 2010, down from 36.2% in 2010 to 28.8% in 2019. A total of 596.2 million hours was contributed, through community organisations, in the 12 months prior to the survey. This is a staggering 20% decrease in total formal volunteering hours since 2014.

The most common types of organisations that people volunteered in were sport and physical recreation (39.1% of volunteers), religious groups (23.3%) and education and training (21.8%). Environment and animal welfare were coupled together and came in at 6%, emergency...

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The many shades of giving and the Australian bushfires

Jan 07, 2020

There is nothing quite like contribution to claw your way back from despair, to find silver linings in deep dark clouds or as an extraordinary antidote to helplessness, in the face of tragedy. It is in times like these we see the human spirit rise up and stand front and centre with an astonishing display of power and perseverance.

People like to give in many ways, in varied ways and peoples limitations and individual circumstances vary greatly. Nicole Kidman and Pink can generously give $500,000 to the relief efforts and it is no more generous than the retiree who gives $10 or a day of her time to sew bat wraps from injured wildlife. It is all relative, all needed and all generous.

Our firefighters have collectively volunteered millions of hours since these fires started in September and right there with them have been the community houses, the community volunteers, the wildlife volunteers and the ordinary, every day folk who have stepped up to support in...

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960,000 hours of volunteer time up for grabs

Oct 01, 2019

Did you know that 75% of business' in Australia now have employee volunteering programs? I found this figure surprising. At first I thought it must be inflated, but these stats from Volunteering Australia are the real deal. What is even more surprising, however, was just how many allocated corporate volunteering hours remain unworked each year.

The equivalent of 500 full time employees every year remains on the table, EVERY SINGLE YEAR!

Thats 20,000 hours a week! 

960,000 hours a year! All there for the taking.

Why is this figure so high?

One reason is that employees are not electing to take up opportunities. The other is that organisations are not adaptable and flexible enough to meet the needs of the corporates.

All this screams OPPORTUNITY for not for profits and community groups who are willing to step outside their comfort zone a little.

If we can craft offerings that appeal to employees, that tap into their motivations and...

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Audit your ask

Aug 16, 2019

Last year, Volunteering Australia conducted a survey around the barriers to volunteering. In this survey 45% of respondents noted the reason they did not volunteer, as "No one asked me!"


Why is it so common for community groups to have fabulous promotion, to tell incredible stories, to passionately talk about their group and all the fabulous work they are doing and then not back it up with a clear ask?

Why do we humans, shy away from the sale, avoid the ask and run from rejection?

We are social creatures, our desire to belong is hardwired and our fear of rejection runs deep. So deep, that sometimes, even the possibility of someone saying no to us,  can trigger subconscious fears. These fears, unknowingly sit below the surface and elevate when we risk a no. They give rise to anxiety and set off responses that firmly nudge us back into our comfort zone. It is more common than we might think and it is prevalent in so many aspects of our lives.

And what about...

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I'm for those who fight for a better forever

Jun 20, 2019

It wasn’t so much our climate election that all seemed to go wrong at the last minute,
Or that TV star President, overseas.
It wasn’t so much Adani or the rapidly increasing rate of homelessness, the continuation of old growth forest logging or even the alarming rate of women being killed by their husbands in their own homes.
It wasn’t the refugee crisis or the confronting lack of empathy for those ravaged by war.
It wasn’t the systematical shaving of funding for our schools and hospitals.
It wasn’t about parliamentary pensions or the complete lack of honour and respect for our indigenous people.
It wasn’t even the moment I discovered that our husbands had to give written permission for us to donate our eggs.
It wasn’t the people dying alone and lonely or even the alarming rates of bullying in our schools and youth suicide.
It wasn’t sex slavery, sweatshops and institutional child abuse.
It wasn’t transgender rights, same sex...

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Resolving conflict with an external facilitator

Jun 09, 2019

Working together in community groups can be difficult. Communities are diverse and complex, as are we the people, that exist within them. When we collectively come together, we bring our whole selves with us; our backgrounds, our personalities, our beliefs and our expectations, our bad days and our good. Often these don't neatly fit with the others in our group. This can cause friction and this friction left unmanaged or even unacknowledged can fester beneath the surface and result in destructive behaviours flourishing within the group context and even worse, individuals can be severely impacted. In extreme cases, the result can be debilitating for some individuals and can take a long time to overcome.

Fortunately it is possible to turn these trends within group environments around. Groups of people working together, collaboratively, with a common purpose can gather ideas, build wise strategies, support each other, deliver awesome value and have fun along the way. Groups are...

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Finding our way

Jun 05, 2019

You know what I love most in the world?

Moving to a new city and being so immersed in the feelings and sensations of lost. With new surprises around ever corner, even the smallest of journeys are filled with treasure troves of adventure. But it’s challenging walking with a map, especially when you’re keen to just get where you have to go. More than a few times, I’ve looked up just in time, the person that I almost ran into scowling at me in disappointment or the zooming car alerting me with a long held screaming hoooonk. And if you’re a no map kind of person, well then you better be a no time kind of person too. I’m all for aimless wandering but the reality is my life of travelling has been much more business than pleasure.


Most of the times (and there’s been many) I’ve moved to a new city, its been for work and the luxury of time is not on my side. I need to know my way fast and often large teams of people have depended on me getting it...

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