Are you thinking about or exploring volunteering?
- what volunteering is
- what you can do as a volunteer
- what you can expect from the volunteer experience
- your rights as a volunteer.
What is volunteering?
Volunteering is where an individual or group for no payment freely gives time “to benefit another person, group or organisation.” Volunteering has positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person, organisation or community served. In New Zealand, volunteers make a significant contribution to the social development, economy and environment of New Zealand.
Benefits of volunteering
Volunteering is enjoyable, provides purpose and belonging within the community, and a feeling of connection.
Why do people volunteer? – they may be out of work, retired, or just have skills and some spare time they want to use to help others.
Volunteering is good for career progress and may lead to paid work. 82% of employers prefer applicants with volunteering experience.
What can you do as a volunteer?
Anything! From administration, accounting and research to gardening, retail, teaching and sport.
Volunteering can be:
- Informal (e.g. helping a neighbour with their grocery shopping), and micro volunteering (short bursts of one-off volunteering).
- Formal, through an organisation. From one-off experiences to longer-term roles
- Team or group volunteering and employee volunteering
To find a volunteer role that’s right for you, ask yourself what sort of person you are and what sort of experience you want.
Some useful questions to ask yourself include:
- Do I prefer working by myself or with others, or even animals?
- Do I want the chance to practice my English if I’m a migrant or former refugee?
- What do I really enjoy doing and how can I best contribute?
- How much time can I spare?
- Do I want to volunteer regularly or every now and again?
Finding volunteer opportunities
- Contact your local Volunteer Centre to help you find suitable volunteer opportunities. They will help you find a suitable organisation and match you with a role.
- Contact organisations which interest you directly. There are many organisations which want volunteers.
- Via online volunteer recruitment services, like SEEK Volunteer
What to expect
It can take time to secure some volunteer roles.
You may need to:
- fill out an application form and/or provide some personal information.
- be interviewed to find out what skills you have and what you want from the volunteering experience.
- supply the names of people who know you well and can vouch for your good character, reliability and trustworthiness – a reference check.
- Have a Police or Ministry of Justice check, especially if you are going to be working with young children, vulnerable people, or handling money.
The organisation may provide volunteer training and/or offer an induction. Find out what the organisation expects from you and tell them what you expect from them. A clear understanding from day one makes the volunteering experience more enjoyable and beneficial for everyone.
Your rights as a volunteer
Remember that you are giving your time, energy and skills to an organisation for free. So, the organisation should treat you well in return.
As a volunteer in New Zealand, you have certain rights:
- You should not be used to fill a position that previously belonged to a paid worker
- You should be reimbursed (paid back) for any out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred on behalf of the organisation
- You must be given enough training to do your job
- Your work environment must be healthy and safe
- Your confidential private information must be protected
- You must not be subjected to unlawful discrimination or sexual and racial harassment.
Find out more about your rights: https://www.volunteeringnz.org.nz/rights-as-a-volunteer/ or on the Employment NZ website: https://www.employment.govt.nz/starting-employment/who-is-an-employee/volunteers/
Good luck on your journey into volunteering!