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Volunteers in Sport


Volunteering provides substantial benefits to sport, society, and to the volunteers themselves. 1, 2, 3, 4, 33

Sports organisations can gain from greater diversity in viewpoints, decision making, and leadership, new and innovative ideas for strategies and programs, and increased participation and fan bases. In return, sport can offer enhanced social, educational, employment, and wellbeing outcomes. 3, 5, 6, 33

Several surveys and reports have shown that more people volunteer in the sporting sector than any other (e.g., religious or cultural sectors). 7, 8

In 2020, 31% of Australians who volunteered through an organisation, chose activities related to sports and physical recreation.7
Sport volunteers are estimated to donate 158 million hours annually– equivalent to nearly 90,000 full-time jobs and $3 billion in economic value.20
In 2018, 95% of employers believe that volunteering can be a credible way of gaining real work experience. 5
In 2020, 66% of volunteers engaged in volunteering for personal satisfaction or to do something worthwhile. 7
In 2020, 74% of volunteers engaged in volunteering to help others or their community. 7


Sport sector

Volunteers add great value to the sector by ensuring organised activities are affordable, well run, and inclusive.


Volunteering provides numerous benefits to the broader economy and community, including improvements in engagement and social cohesion.

Physical, social, and mental wellbeing

Sport volunteering can positively impact individual life satisfaction, physical, cognitive, social, and mental wellbeing.

Personal and professional development

Sport volunteering can have a positive impact on individual's education, employment, and career prospects.

  1. Sport and Social Capital, Australia, 2010, Australian Bureau of Statistics, (March 2012) Final report (ceased).
  2. European Report on Skills Needs Identification: Situation, trends, perspectives and priorities for the sport and physical activity sector, European Observatoire of Sport and Employment, (March 2023).
  3. The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement, Volunteering Australia, (2015).
  4. The economic contribution of sport to Australia, Frontier Economics report to the Australian Sports Commission, (2010).
  5. Volunteering and Settlement in Australia: A snapshot, Volunteering Australia, Settlement Council of Australia, (May 2019).
  6. State of Volunteering in Australia report, Volunteering Australia/PWC, (April 2016).
  7. General Social Survey, Australian Bureau of Statistics, (June 2021).
  8. Volunteers in Victoria: trends, challenges and opportunities, State of Victoria, Ministerial Council for Volunteers, (June 2017).
  9. Giving and volunteering in culturally and linguistically diverse and Indigenous communities, Commonwealth Department of Social Services, pp.44, (2016).
  10. Australia, Sheranne Fairley, Pamm Phillips, Chapter 1 in 'Sports Volunteers Around the Globe: Meaning and Understanding of Volunteering and its Societal Impact', Kirstin Hallmann, Sheranne Fairley (eds.), Springer, pp.7-20, (2019).
  11. Volunteering Australia Response on a National Sports Plan, Volunteering Australia, (July 2017).
  12. Sport’s unsung heroes: Involvement in non-playing roles, Australian Bureau of Statistics (Perspectives on Sport series), (June 2011).
  13. Volunteers: the "heartbeat" of Olympic legacy, International Olympic Committee, (6 December 2019).
  14. Pioneer volunteers: the role identity of continuous volunteers at sport events, Fairley S, Green B, O’Brian D, et al., Journal of Sport and Tourism, Volume 19(3-4), pp.233-255, (2014).
  15. Hidden diamonds: Uncovering the true value of sport volunteers, Join in, (2014).
  16. Building on the value of Victoria’s community sector, Victorian Council of Social Services, (2015).
  17. Evidence Insights: Volunteering and mental health, Jack McDermott, Dominic O'Neill, Volunteering Australia, (October 2021).
  18. Active Lives, Department for Health and Ageing, Government of South Australia, prepared for the Office of Recreation, Sport and Racing, (2019 and 2021).
  19. Value of Sport, Sport NZ, (March 2018).
  20. Intergenerational review of Australian sport 2017, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) for the Australian Sports Commission, (2017).
  21. Volunteering is good for us and the community! Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing, Government of South Australia, (13 August 2020).
  22. Participatory arts, sport, physical activity and loneliness: the role of volunteering, what works wellbeing, (December 2020).
  23. Is mid-life social participation associated with cognitive function at age 50? Results from the British National Child Development Study (NCDS), Bowling A, Pikhartova J, Dodgeon B, BMC Psychology, Volume 4, article 58, (December 2016).
  24. Altruism: How to Cultivate Selfless Behavior, Kendra Cherry, very well mind, (8 May 2023).
  25. Key facts and statistics about volunteering in Australia, Volunteering Australia, (2015).
  26. Youth volunteering in Australia: An evidence review, Walsh L and Black R, Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), (2015).
  27. The impact of volunteering on happiness and health, Volunteering Victoria, (August 2016).
  28. Regular volunteer work provides demonstrable benefits for the health and well-being of older adults, Elsevier, Medical Xpress, (11 June 2020).
  29. Volunteering and Subsequent Health and Well-Being in Older Adults: An Outcome-Wide Longitudinal Approach, Eric Kim, Ashley Whillans, Matthew Lee, et al., American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 59(2), pp.176-186, (August 2020).
  30. Volunteering is associated with lower risk of cognitive impairment, Infurna F, Okun M, Grimm K, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Volume 64(11), pp.2263-2269, (November 2016).
  31. The Value and Benefits of Sport: Education, Clearinghouse for Sport, (accessed 19 July 2023).
  32. The impact of engagement in sport on graduate employability: implications for higher education policy and practice, Kerry Griffiths, Steve Bullough, Simon Shibli, et al., International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, Volume 9(3), pp.431-451, (2017).
  33. Sport Volunteering in Europe: Realities, opportunities and challenges, V4V: Skills acquired through volunteering in sport project, European Observatoire of Sport and Employment, (October 2023).


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