May 08, 2018
Contact: Nick Terrell
0487 388 763

Reconnected Hobart - Social Capital Conversations

The Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP - Member for Fenner

Shadow Assistant Treasurer | Shadow Minister for Competition and Productivity

Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits | Shadow Minister for Trade In Services


Social capital conversations – AEU Hobart Branch

On 19 March 2018, a group of charities from around Hobart joined Labor's Julie Collins and Andrew Leigh to discuss successful strategies for building social capital and community engagement.

The small group conversations generated dozens of ideas and observations, some of which are set out below.

Please note that this list does not reflect Labor policy, but the ideas that were proposed by the charities and not-for-profits in attendance.


Engaging and enlisting volunteers

  • People who want to volunteer are shopping around for opportunities that suit their time and interest.
  • Community projects, with concrete local goals, are good focal points for generating new involvement.
  • Show how tasks and contributions are part of a project that is meaningful on a broader scale.
  • People respond willingly to things they perceive as having an immediate impact on their community and to moments of crisis. 
  • The volunteer pool is a market, you need to know who wants to volunteer, how they want to volunteer and for how long. Then sell your organisation as the opportunity they’re looking for (principles of consumer engagement).
  • To attract new volunteers, create short term volunteering opportunities – sponsorship, donations, projects – rather than ongoing roles.
  • Engage potential volunteers in younger demographics through champions and experience-based propositions. Calibrate age of supervisors to the age of the volunteers – older sibling / mentor.
  • Younger volunteers are looking for empowerment (skills), gratification, experiences and flexibility. Offer them skills that will help open up pathways to employment. For example, Carers Tasmania’s “Care to Work” program, which recognises the skills of carers and how they can translate into paid employment.
  • Share agency and authority with volunteers – provide more board and committee opportunities for young people.
  • To give volunteers an opportunity to use and develop existing skills, create job roles rather than stand-alone tasks.
  • Provide proper support structures – ‘code of conduct’ and ‘risk management’ and skills checklists for incoming volunteers.
  • When planning, formulate a clear commitment about what you give back to volunteers
  • Volunteering Tasmania is a useful source for leads
  • Recognition and reward helps to keep volunteers on board over time, long service recognition consolidates relationships.


Increasing Capacity

  • Use networks to find pro-bono experts like accountants and fundraisers.
  • Social media can bring diverse people together for specific events or causes that directly benefit a particular community.


Culture of Community Building

  • Use collective events (ie street festival and markets, career day) to anchor existing groups and create culture of volunteering and co-operation
  • Make a point of celebrating achievements of volunteers and the organisation.
  • Be public – visible events showcasing work of the organisation, benefits for the community and the opportunities to be involved. Community stalls and one off market days to introduce people to opportunities without implied commitment.



  • Acknowledge and reward volunteer co-ordination – provide tools to enable co-ordinators to give structured training and experience to volunteers.
  • Good volunteer managers, with appropriate training and skills, increase satisfaction and retention of volunteers and increase the capacity of charities. Generic modules and hubs for sharing information could assist for organisations that don’t have specific resources for volunteer management.
  • Facilitate networking opportunities to bring organisations doing similar work together and to share systems knowledge across sectors.
  • Good outcomes require proper investment levels – but the valuation of returns is still vague. Organisations that can point to economic and social benefits will make a more compelling case for support.


Increasing capacity

  • Transport support can dramatically increase the reach of services – ie a community bus can increase the service range of an ageing support hub, increasing the potential pool of clients from a local neighbourhood to a small region.
  • A representative association for NGO / NFPs would help groups manage regulation and share costs of representing sector interests (ie legal advice). It could also look at whether the regulatory environment allows charities to readily share resources with other charities (benevolent oversight could set terms for freer exchange).
  • Create incentives for organisations operating in related issues to collaborate.
  • Volunteering ambassador – liaise with schools and young people to show them the opportunities and experience that comes with volunteering, and to create pathways.
  • Incorporating social enterprise projects into service programs and business models – for example, Colony 47’s “Start Fresh Services” – contract cleaning enterprise provides experience, training, award rates and mentoring).


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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.