By Ryan Hooper-Smith: Outgoing Youth Board member, Volunteering New Zealand

Kia ora koutou. For those who don’t know me, I’ve held a co-opted board position for the past two years and have been leading work this year to boost Volunteering New Zealand’s youth representation across the organisation. It’s been an honour to serve on the board, and I would like to firstly thank those who I worked with during that time, and those who support greater youth voice in the sector.

During these two years, I’ve learnt a lot about why we need more young people in our organisations. While the knowledge, ideas and experience of those who have been around for a while is incredibly important, we are going through a transition period. As we shift from the more formalised volunteering towards casual volunteering, combined with the prominence of social media, we are seeing the idea of ‘volunteering’ change. In order to adapt, it is paramount that we have young people represented in our organisations at all levels.

Ambition is better than indecision

To wrap up my final few weeks on the board, I was asked to leave some insights to help the new team in their continued journey. In a nutshell, it was this: ambition is better than indecision.

While it might sound like an obvious and almost unnecessary statement, it holds true. Throughout my time on the board, we were faced with some extremely tough decisions and some amazing opportunities to help shed more light on the sector, while also boosting Volunteering New Zealand’s influence. In many situations, we decided to take an ambitious approach rather than over-analysing the decision. While some choices do need greater consideration, organisations and their boards need to be ambitious to stay relevant.

Indecision leads to a space where you stall. Ambition, on the other hand, leads to new ideas and innovation which pushes your organisation and board forward. Don’t force yourself down a rabbit hole of needing to test things out constantly, or to wait to see if someone else does it.

 The biggest ‘ambition’ example from the board that I can take away was the AGM recommendation to permanently create a youth position on the board. It’s so very important to have youth input and insight into the decision making process, and it’s a perfect example of just doing it rather than putting it off for some reason. I urge other organisations to join us in leading with young people at the helm. The insights of young people are unmatched, and will only help you in your strategy and your future focus. If you don’t already have a young person on your board, then now is the time.

 Ngā mihi nui,