There is a sizeable volunteer resource dedicated to governance responsibilities in thousands of organisations across New Zealand. Volunteers dedicated to the longevity, sustainability and commitment of their organisations to fulfilling their purpose with loving service. These are very often the unsung heroes of volunteering, who labour in a complex layering of roles and responsibilities. Some demanded by legislation, some by their organisational documents, and some by their own codes of practice. They take the heat for bad press and shine the light their staff when amazing greatness happens. They are governance volunteers and they matter.
For many staff and service volunteers the identity, role and purpose of the Board can be almost invisible or not understood.
“Hundreds of thousands of us volunteer in governance roles as members of committees and boards. Volunteering here is often not very visible but without passion, expertise and skills of these volunteers our community groups could function. Without volunteers in governance roles, there would be little sport, few church or social activities and services in our communities. This Volunteering Week we pause to acknowledge and thank those who give of their time in governance roles”, Jo Cribb.
The environment these governance volunteers work in is becoming increasingly complex and facing more and more stakeholder and public scrutiny. The workload, and level of responsibility, of volunteers governing organisations in the volunteer and community sector has increased in conjunction with compliance expectations and public accountability. Not to mention competition for funding, staff, volunteers and new board members in their own communities!
What governance volunteers are required to carry out and the environment in which they operate is very different than direct service volunteers or micro volunteering activity. As the peak authority on their organisations they face high expectations of their activity often without good induction practices, manuals for their processes or training for their role. Many governance volunteers in New Zealand are serving on more than one organisational board at a time. Often they are the go to person in their community when groups are looking for someone to offer skill, expertise or advice. They are service oriented folk who thrive on delivering “arrangements and practices that allow an organisation to set its direction and manage its operations to achieve its outcomes and fulfil is accountability obligations”. The Four Pillars of Governance.
Governance volunteers serve their organisations with dedication, time and skill (and hopefully some wisdom), in order to preserve its longevity and enable it to fulfil its purpose. In doing so, they create a culture and environment that allows others to thrive and grow by serving in their own ways through their volunteering efforts.
So celebrate your governance volunteers. Recognise their efforts and contributions, their sense of kaitiakitanga for their organisation, community and stakeholders. Celebrate and acknowledge them, appreciate the policy, compliance and constitutional complexity they wrestle with on your behalf!
Volunteering New Zealand
Governance for good resources:
- The Four Pillars of Governance for New Zealand Directors, Institute of Directors New Zealand, 2017.
- You can also check out this newly released resource from the Institute of Directors: For purpose or passion.