Measuring Volunteerability and the Capacity to Volunteer among Non-volunteers: Implications for Social Policy

Debbie Haski-Leventhal, Lucas C.P.M. Meijs, Leonie Lockstone-Binney, Kirsten Holmes, Melanie Oppenheimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


As volunteering and its benefits gain global recognition, social policymakers can sustain and increase volunteering through social policy, legislation and other types of involvement. A key performance practice is to measure the rate of volunteering based on the percentage of the population that volunteer or the number of hours donated. The focus of this article, however, is on the capacity to volunteer by non-volunteers as well as by volunteers. The concept and theory of volunteerability (an individual's ability to overcome related obstacles and volunteer, based on his or her willingness, capability and availability) offers a richer understanding of how people can be assisted to overcome barriers to maximize their volunteer potential and thus increase volunteering. The article details the definitions and benefits of volunteering and covers examples of related social policy, as well as explaining the concept of volunteerability and how it can be measured using existing and new scales. Based on a mixed methods study in Australia, the article offers specific measures to examine the concept of volunteerability and reveals important differences between volunteers and non-volunteers. The article also details major barriers to volunteering and how social policies can be developed to overcome them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1139-1167
Number of pages29
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number5
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • Barriers
  • Measurement
  • Motivation
  • Social policy
  • Volunteerability
  • Volunteering


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