Heather Moore, general manager at Volunteering Waikato, recently received a Queen’s Service Medal to recognise her contributions to communities. Heather has made a fantastic impact on volunteering in the Waikato region. Recently, we spoke with her about the context behind what led to her award and her learnings of professional development tools for NGOs!
Can you talk a bit about your role and what you do?
Volunteering Waikato recruits and refers volunteers throughout the Waikato Region, supporting around 350 community organisations with their volunteering needs, and helping those who choose to volunteer to find the right opportunity. My role here is General Manager, and I am responsible for the overall operations of the organisation, ensuring we meet or exceed our strategic and service delivery goals, with a focus on best practice.
Your work has had an amazing impact on volunteering in the Waikato region and for Volunteering Waikato. Can you talk a bit about why you believe you received the Queen’s Service Medal?
Although my role in transforming Volunteering Waikato from a struggling organisation to one that is thriving played a big part, the bigger focus of this award was on my involvement in the community in general. I have been an active volunteer for 25 years, starting at Youthline – for six years – in Auckland in the 1990s. My current community involvement includes my role in the Red Cross Disaster Welfare and Support Team (where I have been for the past seven years), and through this I have responded to many disasters. I am a Rotarian and often volunteer with the Rotary club, for example, doing fundraisers to support various community projects, and I have undertaken three projects in the Pacific.
I have a range of volunteer roles in the community, and I am proud that I walk the talk – I am a passionate volunteer and my volunteering has had a profound impact on the direction of my life.
Volunteering Waikato has gone through a significant change under your leadership; what helped strengthen the organisation?
First, we looked at everything we were doing and worked out what the community needed from us. We brought the focus back to our core business: volunteers and volunteering. We strengthened our relationship with key stakeholders (including our funders) through good applications, complete transparency, good accounting and robust accountability to ensure we had their support and confidence. Ensuring that we have the right staff in the right roles has been key, and our team has strong strategic and business plans to ensure we stay on track.
How has technology helped you in your role at Volunteering Waikato?
Volunteering Waikato introduced an online volunteer recruitment and referral system about 10 years ago, allowing organisations to log in, list their volunteering opportunities and receive applications. Volunteers can search for positions online and apply for positions of interest. This online system was hugely transformative for us as it allows people and organisations throughout the Waikato Region to easily access our services.
What advice would you have for organisations wanting to improve their volunteer programmes (anything from volunteer recruitment, volunteer
retention, operational tips etc.)?
I would strongly suggest that organisations get in touch with their local volunteer centres. Volunteer recruitment and management is a specialised area, and volunteers are different to manage than paid staff. Volunteer centre staff can help with training, advice and support, they can help you develop roles, create role descriptions and give you tips on how to recruit the right people.