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The Plus Effect


In our centenary year we recognise the value volunteers add to our society. We are an organisation built on volunteering and we couldn't have made our 100 year milestone without the support of our volunteers.

Volunteers add value not only to the lives of the people they support, they add value to our whole community. They help connect people and build trust within communities. In times of need, these social connections enable communities to mobilise their people quickly.

Our volunteers help us to serve 750,000 breakfasts to kids in disadvantaged communities so they don't go to school hungry, make 1.7 million phone calls every year to help elderly socially isolated Australians stay in their homes, provide emotional and practical support to people who have been evacuated from their homes because of a disaster, and internationally our volunteers help people achieve healthier, safer and more sustainable lives.

More than one in three Australians volunteer. It is because of their commitment that our communities are stronger. They share information, skills and resources and build bridges between people.

Having a society with a strong culture of volunteerism is a big plus, and it is thanks to volunteers that we all benefit from the plus effect.

What is the Plus Effect?

The plus effect is a way of showing the vital social benefits a volunteer brings to a community. The most obvious plus effect is the direct impact the volunteer makes to the person or organisation they are working with.

Plus, the effect the volunteer gains from doing the work. The two main reasons people give for volunteering are the difference they make to the community and the sense of purpose it gives to them. Feeling a personal fulfilment and a connection with the community is a plus.

But there is more to the plus effect than just the volunteer and the people they directly help.

For example, every day around the country, our volunteers call socially isolated people, often older people living alone, to check that they're ok.

The plus effect of the volunteer and their calls include:

  • The family of the client knows that they are not alone in supporting their loved one. They know a friendly volunteer also has their relative's wellbeing in mind. That's a plus.
  • Through the regular contact with a volunteer the client feels more connected and confident about communicating with others. That's a plus.
  • The community services that work with the client - health services, meals on wheels and so forth - know that a volunteer is checking on their client everyday when they can't be there. That's a plus.
  • The client feels supported to remain living independently in their own home because of the volunteers' calls. This reduces the ever growing demand on aged care facilities. That's a plus.

Red Cross and volunteering

We are an organisation built on volunteering - voluntary service is one of our fundamental principles. In Australia we are supported by over 30,000 volunteers. Our volunteers work with and support vulnerable people in the community, helping to build connections and trusting relationships.

We value the contribution of volunteers and the difference they make in their communities. Volunteers help people to improve their lives. They strengthen communities to be more supportive, connected and inclusive.

Learn more about volunteering with Red Cross »

Meet our volunteers


Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy as a young child and not able to walk, Mary has long aspired to do a fulfilling job, so when the opportunity to volunteer at Red Cross came up, she, in her signature way, was beaming. Meet Mary »


When Carla Roncati- Rodriguez moved far away from her home country, Brazil, to live with her husband and three kids in Australia, volunteering helped her to feel connected to her new community. Meet Carla »

Bianca was homeless when a Red Cross staff member invited her to consider volunteering. She found her passion and now wants to help others "down on their luck."
Meet Bianca

Saeed volunteers at Adelaide's Red Cross community garden, helping asylum seekers learn to grow their own food
Meet Saeed »

Khaled began with Red Cross as a client and now volunteers to help others
Meet Khaled »

Philip and Thomas have forged a strong friendship after they met volunteering at their local Red Cross shop
Meet Philip and Thomas »