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Volunteers Roll Up Their Sleeves For Community And Whenua

National Volunteer Week gives us cause to celebrate the amazing work New Zealand’s team of one million volunteers do day in, day out.

Locally, my organisation Be Collective is working closely with Volunteer Nelson to connect a new generation of volunteers to causes they care about.

If you want to be a Quiz Master in Motueka, an IHC volunteer phone buddy, or take on a community governance role, Volunteer Nelson has opportunities for you.

We are proud to support the great work of this team by using our digital platform Be Collective to put a spotlight on local opportunities.

We know volunteers are central to the social fabric of Aotearoa. Volunteer effort means our sports clubs can kick goals each Sunday, our neighbourhoods can declare themselves pest free and New Zealanders most in need can access help and support.

At last count, Volunteering New Zealand tallied up more than 115,770 registered non-profit institutions that rely in some way on volunteers, and 1,008,000 volunteers. That’s one in five New Zealanders rolling up their sleeves to do good for the community and whenua.

The benefits of volunteering don’t just land outwardly, they also change the lives of volunteers themselves. Friendships flourish, new opportunities arise, skills are honed and new paths are forged.

Yet, when it comes to recruiting and matching people into volunteer opportunities, we need to do much better.

We know recruiting and retaining volunteer effort is the single-largest challenge for small and medium community groups and charities.

Alongside the challenges and threats that COVID-19 has brought, it has fundamentally changed where and how people spend their time. This provides an opportunity for us to rethink how we recruit volunteers.

More people are working from home, in suburban settings, and time that was spent commuting is now time on their hands.

As a volunteering sector, we can be jumping on this opportunity with ecosystems of place-based volunteer opportunities.

Our engagement strategies need to reflect the desires and behaviours of young New Zealanders who are looking for varied experiences and skill development.

Here at Be Collective we are working to meet that technology gap through our digital platform. As a B-Corp certified social enterprise, we connect individuals, organisations’ and entire communities to local opportunities in a way that recognises, rewards and records volunteer effort.

We offer every volunteer a social resume free of charge ensuring that their volunteer work supports them on their pathway either into more senior roles within the organisations they support, or the paid workforce.

Anyone can create a profile for free and either list an opportunity or volunteer themselves. We make it easier for organisations to find volunteers, and easier for volunteers to find projects and roles that suit them.

It is crucial that collectively we turn the story of reducing numbers of volunteers into one where more New Zealanders than ever see volunteering as an integral and rewarding part of their lives.

© Scoop Media

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