Volunteering Statistics


Volunteering New Zealand believes that reliable and accurate data about volunteering is essential for effective leadership, advocacy and support of the community and voluntary sector. We are committed to advocating with and on behalf of the sector with quality data that highlights the value of volunteering in all its forms. 

Latest New Zealand data

Using information from Statistics New Zealand’s latest quarterly Labour Market Statistics, the following highlights can be drawn from the statistical tables:

    • Approximately 21.5% of New Zealanders undertake volunteer work
    • The value of formal volunteering is estimated at $4 billion per annum.
    • New Zealanders contribute a total of around 159 million hours of formal volunteer labour each year
    • 11.8% of people undertake informal volunteering work, contributing a total of 7.8 million hours of volunteer labour per year to these figures. 
    • Rates of volunteering for those who are employed are higher than those who are unemployed or not in the labour market. The exception is those over 65 years old, where the rate of volunteering for those not in the labour market is higher than those who are employed. This is because the proportion of over 65 who are not in the labour market may be higher than those who are employed. 
    • People from European and Maori ethnic groups are the two ethnic groups most likely to volunteer, while MELAA (Middle Eastern, Latin American and African) and Asian are the least likely by volunteer percentage rate. This shows the ongoing challenge of making the volunteering landscape more inclusive to widen the types of people who engage in volunteer work.
    • Those in professional occupations are more likely to volunteer than those in non-professional occupations: 23% of professionals and managers, versus 16% of labourers and machinery operators.

Recently, Statistics New Zealand has tried to capture volunteering under the wellbeing indicators by analysing previous data from the 2016 General Social Survey. While they acknowledge that this metric is still being developed, their preliminary analysis captures some vital data around informal volunteering, defined as volunteering done outside formal organisations.

    • When the measure of volunteering is expanded to include formal and informal volunteering, and long term and short-term volunteering, rates of participation are significantly higher. Of those aged 15 years of age or older, 49.8% have performed formal and/or informal volunteer work in the last month.
    • Of those who have volunteered, 28.2% volunteered through an organisation and 36.5% volunteered directly (i.e. undertook informal volunteering).

Data from the latest Statistics New Zealand Non-Profit Institutions Satellite Account report provides the following snapshot of the organisations/institutions involved in the community and voluntary sector: 

    • There are currently 115,770 registered non-profit institutions (what VNZ often calls volunteer-involving organisations/VIOs or voluntary/community organisations) in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
    • The largest cluster of community organisations belong to the ‘Culture, Sport, and Recreation’ category, which includes organisations as diverse as volunteer school sports coaches, to regional tramping clubs, to Māori waiata groups. Organisations belonging to the Culture, Sport, and Recreation category account for 44.8% of all community organisations. 
    • The second largest category is the Housing, Health and Social Services category, together comprising 22.4% of all community organisations. 
    • Organisations focussed on law, politics, and advocacy (including professional unions) comprise 6.5% of all community organisations. 
    • Grant-Makers, Fundraising, and Voluntary Promotion organisations, which includes charitable funders and sector leaders such as VNZ, make up 1.4% of all community organisations. 
    • Community organisations focussed on international issues make up the smallest category, comprising just 0.8% of all community organisations.  
    • The number of people who volunteered at a community organisation in 2018 was 1,008,000 (a figure which VNZ has previously used together with other data to arrive at our 21.5% estimate of New Zealanders who participate in ‘formal volunteering’). There is a worrying decrease from the previous report, however, with 2013’s figures indicating 1,229,054 volunteers.  
    • The overwhelming majority of community organisations (89.2%) do not have any paid employees (i.e. they are staffed only by volunteers). Of those organisations that have paid staff, 7.3% have fewer than 5 employees (measured in total headcount, not FTE). Only 3.5% of community organisations have more than 5 employees
    • Community organisations most likely to have paid staff are those working in the Health and Social Services category, with 21.4% of the workforce (on average) being paid staff; and the Education and Research category, where 18% of the workforce are paid staff. 
    • Community organisations reported a total income of $18.11 billion in 2018, which is an increase from previous. 
    • The majority of community organisations’ income (66%) come from the sale of goods or services, while a significant portion (29%) comes from grants and donations. 
    • The largest category of community organisations (Culture, Sport and Recreation) received the majority of their income (63.7%) from the sale of goods and services, followed by 33.1% of income received from donations and grants (including from members, grant-makers, and the Government) which contributed a total of over $1 billion in 2018. The amount received from Government may be an underestimate, however, as Statistics New Zealand does not list grants received from government contracts (for example, organisations contracted by the Government to provide a particular sporting service to a region would not have their income included in the list).

Other data resources:

VNZ has carefully selected the following resources to highlight some insights about volunteering in New Zealand and a number of other similar jurisdictions.

Non-profit institutions satelitte account 2018
Statistics New Zealand (2020). 

The Non-profit institutions satellite account (NPISA) supplements the existing New Zealand System of National Accounts and analyses the contribution of non-profit institutions to the New Zealand economy. It also includes measures of volunteering and unpaid work. A key finding is that value of formal volunteering is estimated at $4 billion per annum.

Volunteering and Donations by New Zealanders in 2016
Statistics New Zealand (2016). 

This report from Statistics New Zealand highlights findings about volunteering and donations from the General Social Survey (GSS). It provides useful information for organisations and policymakers on the demographics of the volunteer workforce, plus the number of hours volunteered and for whom. It also explores the types of people who donate and who they donate to.

Labour Market Quarterly Statistics: June 2019 Quarter
Statistics New Zealand (2018/19)

Labour market statistics provide a picture of the New Zealand labour market, including unemployment and employment rates, demand for labour, and changes in wages and salaries. It includes useful information around volunteering rates, stratified by various categories including age cohort, ethnicity, occupation, and geographical location.

Time Well Spent: A National Survey on the Volunteering Experience
National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), UK (2019)

This report summarises the key findings from the report Time Well Spent: A national survey on the volunteer experience, undertaken by the United Kingdom’s National Council for Voluntary Organisations. It provides a valuable perspective on effective research engaging with volunteers. 

Blog Post: Who are Australia’s volunteers? The 2019 update
Glenn – “Census Expert” (ID The Population Experts, Australia)

This is a blog post summarising the make-up of Australia’s volunteering workforce. The rates of volunteering are similar to New Zealand’s, and some of the challenges around inclusion and diversity are also highlighted. 

We anticipate keeping this page regularly updated as new resources and datasets become available. Upcoming reports will include the 2020 State of Volunteering Report and an analysis of the latest volunteering data from the New Zealand 2018 Census when it becomes available.