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Clunes - a New Model of Volunteering

New models of volunteering have been a hot topic of conversation ever since volunteering took a hit during COVID. In Clunes we spent the last 6 months learning about one of these models, only to realise that there is every likelihood that we've been applying that approach to volunteering in our community for a very long time.

In the Papers

Clunes recently collaborated with one of Australia's leading volunteering experts to jot down our thoughts and experiences building a community through volunteering. The result of those conversations was published in a volunteering paper as part of National Volunteering Week in May 2023.

The Five Step Community Volunteering Model

Good volunteering is an example of the penultimate relationship. A complex meeting of the minds and working together that has the potential to grow and grow. Mark Creyton, who has worked with the Clunes community as part of the Volunteering Local project and prior, has worked with more than 10,000 community groups in the past three decades. He identified this community-based approach to volunteering early on, recognising its ready adoption in rural communities like Clunes.

Connecting and integrating volunteers creates greater agency, participation and impact. Involving five simple steps, the community volunteering model includes:

  • Creating the space and culture for volunteering

  • Promoting volunteer opportunities and connecting with volunteers

  • Engaging volunteers in the work and culture of an organisation

  • Building belonging

  • Providing leadership opportunities

"Small communities are intimate and practical enough to be used to tapping people on the shoulder when they need something done. Often people active in the town wear lots of hats, volunteering across different groups. The end result is a community that is inherently more connected. The key to maintaining those connections is nurturing them," said Mark.

The five steps in the community volunteering model show how this can be done. As Clunes rolled out our Volunteering Local project, you could see how each of the five groups involved naturally focused on one or more of those steps.

"For many of the groups involved this wasn't new work," said Lana de Kort, Manager, Clunes Neighbourhood House, "But appreciating that it was part of a framework was. It made us all think about how each step interrelated within our own groups and how it offered us something to build on - interanlly and also across our community."

"This common approach to volunteering seems to be steeped in our country way of life, but it's reflective of an emerging model of community volunteering that could pave the way for a more robust volunteer economy - and that is important. Why? Because in a complex world where we need all the hearts and minds we can get to overcome challenges, knowing how to harness this in a way that can continue to build is vital.

"We look forward to finding ways to accelerate this in a practical way in Clunes and also in other communities who might like to replicate what we are doing," said Lana.

This paper was a community collaboration funded by the Victorian State Government, Department of Families, Fairness and Housing; and the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal (FRRR).

Author: Lana de Kort

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