Across the country, thousands of everyday Australians will soon be knocking on your door or rattling a can at an intersection or shopping centre to support the Salvos.
As The Salvation Army’s major annual fundraising event, the Red Shield Appeal, gets underway, have you ever wondered what motivates people to brave all sorts of weather to be part of the appeal?
According to psychology.iresearchnet.com, people are motivated to volunteer by the values that are important to them, such as a concern for the less well-off in society. Volunteerism is defined as deliberate service to others over time and without compensation, where a person freely chooses to help.
Research on iresearchnet.com also states that 44% of adults and 59% of teenagers volunteer, although the largest group of volunteers are aged from 35 to 55 years old. And people who have more connections to their community, such as those living in smaller rural communities or those with links to religious and cultural groups, tend to be enthusiastic volunteers.
A further group of volunteers may be motivated by career aspiration, such as university students who volunteer to enhance their job skills and increase their likelihood of achieving career goals in the future.
For many people, volunteering comes from their concern for their local community, or a passion about a particular need or cause, such as illness or homelessness.
It’s obvious that during our Red Shield Appeal the Salvos benefit in a material way from the efforts of volunteers, but do volunteers get something in return for their generosity?
Research reveals that for older adults the increased activity and social stimulation of volunteering has positive health effects and increases life satisfaction. Society as a whole benefits from the promotion of the common welfare of the community and the chance to expand services to those in need—thanks to the efforts of volunteers.
Having rattled a can at a shopping centre for the Red Shield Appeal, I can speak from personal experience of the joy volunteers get out of doing this.
If you are volunteering for Red Shield in our cooler southern states, it can sometimes be cold and windy, so it’s not uncommon to see volunteers well rugged up and occasionally marching on the spot to keep warm!
But, for me, these minor discomforts are more than outweighed by the lovely exchanges with people who come up to put a donation in the tin, smiling as they tell us that they always support the Salvos because we are always there for people in need.
I recall one gracious elderly gentleman who donated on his way into the shopping centre, and then donated again on his way out!
I am also thankful for the parents who give their children some coins and encourage them to come up and pop them in the collection bucket or tin for themselves.
There are so many positive experiences involved in being a Red Shield volunteer, and you finish your shift with the great feeling that the work of The Salvation Army is strongly supported by the community because it is transforming lives.
When we chat with those dropping money in our tin, we often hear the simple but heartfelt line, “Thank God for the Salvos”, but as Australians once more show their ongoing support we want to say, “Thank God for you”.