Many Rugby World Cup 2011 volunteers delivered on their intentions to do more volunteer work after an outstanding experience with the event, a longitudinal study has found.
The research report, 'Experiences and legacies of RWC 2011 Volunteer Programme', was funded by Sport New Zealand and conducted by researchers from AUT University and Victoria University of Wellington. It surveyed the experiences of Rugby World Cup 2011 volunteers, before and straight after the event, then again six months and one year later.
AUT University Associate Professor of Sport Management Geoff Dickson, who is also an Associate Director of the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute, collaborated with lead researcher Dr Karen Smith, a senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Management and a board member of Volunteering New Zealand.
The research found that although seven out of 10 Rugby World Cup volunteers were already active volunteers, one out of 10 were new to volunteering and the rest were people who had done some volunteer work in the past. About 85 per cent of the Rugby World Cup volunteers who said they planned to do more volunteering did in fact go on to do just that, so the events and sports sectors benefited from this growth.
Associate Professor Dickson’s strand of the research investigated whether there were any employment-related legacies from Rugby World Cup volunteering.
”We found that volunteering at the Rugby World Cup didn’t translate into better workplace innovation, learning orientation or self-perceived employability for volunteers, which surprised me. I remain confident that there are other workplace benefits, beyond those that we investigated.” says Assoc Prof Dickson. “But it was interesting that many volunteers reported gaining confidence as job-seekers, especially younger volunteers aged between 18 and 24.”
Dr Smith suggests that on International Volunteer Day (5 December) the volunteering sector should consider how to capitalise on the enthusiasm of volunteers after future major events.
“A quarter of the volunteers surveyed rated their satisfaction with their experience seven out of seven and a fifth said they hadn’t experienced any low points while volunteering. Even a year after the event the positive memories of Rugby World Cup endured,” says Dr Smith. “It would make sense for the volunteer sector to harness that enthusiasm while it’s still fresh.”