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Get Volunteering Auckland

1 May 2008

Get Volunteering Auckland

By Caron Copek

“Volunteering is not about puppies with big eyes, kids with cancer, tree planting, or driving the elderly. For me it’s about making a difference,” says Cheryll Martin, Regional Manager, Volunteering Auckland.

Ms Martin is a passionate advocate for volunteers and the organisation she manages. “It’s volunteering which makes all of these things happen in our community. Volunteering is our end product. We support the community sector. It’s what we do.”

Volunteering Auckland is in a key position “on the people side of the voluntary sector”, says Ms Martin. The charitable trust works with organisations like the Cancer Society and the SPCA as well as Project Twin Streams and the Unforgettable Music Club to place individuals in voluntary positions.
Voluntary work can provide opportunities for work experience or gaining new skills, and a chance to make a difference. The centre also provides organisations with the talent and skills they need to do their work in the community.

Volunteering Auckland is one of 16 volunteer centres throughout New Zealand in 2008 which matches volunteers with organisations seeking unpaid staff. There were only six centres in 2001.

“There are 97,000 charitable organisations in New Zealand, of which 90,000 are run solely by volunteers” says Ms Martin. “New Zealand is built on volunteers. It’s in our blood. It’s who we are.”

Non-profit institutions contributed 2.6 percent to New Zealand's gross domestic product in 2004 according to Statistic NZ. When volunteer labour is included in the figures, non-profit institutions' contribution to GDP increases from 2.6 percent to 4.9 percent.

Volunteering Auckland fills over 300 “jobs” for community groups who require volunteer dog walkers, coaches, board members, photographers or administrative staff. Ms Martin and her team actively look for voluntary roles in particular areas, for example, the arts, sport and conservation.

It is free for non-profit organisations to become members of Volunteering Auckland. As the “experts on volunteer management” the organisation offers advice on a wide range of issues, resources and support on recruiting and retaining volunteers.

Volunteering Auckland has the people the voluntary sector requires. “Half of our volunteers are students and most are under 29 years of age. Around 90 percent are migrants who want to get involved with their community and make a difference. We’re also seeing a rise in the number of volunteers who are also employed full time” says Cheryll Martin.

Go to VolunteerNow.or.nz for volunteering opportunities or

www.volunteeringnz.org.nz for more information about Volunteering NZ.

Caron Copek is a journalism student at AUT University in Auckland

ENDS

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