Volunteer shortages, shifts going unfilled and more help desperately needed paints a pretty dire picture of the charity sector’s volunteer recruitment schemes.

Volunteer shortages

In reference to a recent Newshub story on the SPCA, Volunteers ‘the back bone’ of NZ charities, but some roles prove hard to fill, Katie Kitzgerald and Ben O’Connor illustrate some volunteer shortages and the challenges of filling particular volunteer roles: Is it a lack of people wanting to volunteer? Or does it come down to the struggle of how organisations recruit and retain suitable volunteers?

Sunday PM – No volunteers – who will feed the baby rabbits!?” said a recent email asking for help. We know there are volunteers are out there. At last count, about 1.2 million. We challenge charities, and not-for- profits, to broaden their appeal for volunteers and to challenge their tired mass marketing approaches in how to recruit and get to the many people just waiting to be asked.

Volunteer shortages – how do we solve this?

The solution needs to be modernised to address the changing face of volunteering in 2018. What are volunteers actually looking for in a role? What sectors of society are most available to fill particular roles? How can roles and work environments be created to entice and recognise volunteers? The fact is there isn’t one clear solution for every charity.

Modifying roles so that “popular” roles also include other tasks (and vice versa with less desirable roles), creating a bit more balance between tasks and/or having rotating rosters, is part of the solution.

In our Overview paper on the state of volunteering in New Zealand 2017 which highlights the broader impact of volunteering on communities we found: “Volunteering also has a much bigger impact than providing services and programmes. There is strong support for its role in strengthening “community contentedness and social cohesion”. Volunteerism is also a mechanism that “deepens and broadens civic engagement”.

Charities need to also remember that a lot of people volunteer for this social connection – to meet new people and feel part of a community. Creating a sense of community and inclusion is of equal importance. With an increase in our migrant communities and retirees; both groups who contribute wonderful value to charity groups, we hear stories of how they are after more volunteer opportunities so they can connect with their communities.

Skill-based volunteer roles

We are also seeing an increase in volunteers who are seeking more skill-based roles, roles where they feel they can learn and grow professionally. An initial solution could be to hire marketing and HR volunteers to conduct market research and assist with the marketing messages, to help better appeal to the right volunteers.

This is part of a much wider discussion and at the end of the day we want New Zealand charities to thrive. They provide such a vital and important role in society and it’s just a case of challenging previous ideas of how to recruit and retain volunteers to fill some of these less desirable roles.


Helpful Resources:

Volunteer shortagesInvolveMe is a free online tool designed to help strengthen the effort of our nation’s 1.2 million volunteers. The InvolveMe tool comprises a survey and customised report for organisational staff and volunteers to assess their organisation’s existing strengths and opportunities





Volunteer shortagesBest Practice ToolkitVNZ’s work with volunteer-involving organisations around their adoption of best practice culture has been hailed as innovative and world-leading. The creation of these Best Practice Guidelines for Volunteer-Involving Organisations (the Guidelines), is central to how organisations transform themselves into catalysts of community change.