“People often simply don’t realise the breadth of volunteering in our community”, Glenda Martin, Volunteering Canterbury’s Outreach and Marketing Manager says.

The reality is that volunteering plays an integral part in the services available within our communities and nationally.  “As a country we simply cannot afford to pay people for all the services which are available” Ms Martin says, citing a recent estimate by St John Ambulance Services that another $30m would need to be fundraised if volunteers were to be paid for their contribution.

It’s timely to remember, though, that volunteering doesn’t come with absolutely no cost to community organisations; these groups need to be switched on to their obligations and responsibilities for paid and unpaid staff.  Recruitment, induction, ongoing training – all these usual steps by HR departments are as relevant in volunteer management.  And with volunteering increasingly becoming a pathway or stepping stone to a return to the paid workforce, or reintegration with, or introduction to, a new community, the turnover of volunteers is higher than it has been in previous decades, shadowing career patterns, where people move around paid roles, learn new skills and re-train rather than staying in the one career stream for the greater part of their working life.

With over 270 member organisations – not-for-profits in the community – Volunteering Canterbury gets to see the range of services which organisations are providing, essentially driven by volunteers.  At its next Volunteer Co-ordinators’ monthly network meeting, Volunteer Managers from three organisations will share what their organisation does – and how they do it.  “These network meetings are essential opportunities to provide insights into management of volunteering and also to share challenges and successes with a like-minded group”, Ms Martin says.  “We seek, wherever possible, to bring in experienced speakers to talk about subjects of interest to our region’s volunteer co-ordinators and managers,” Ms Martin says, “so it is natural that when we want to share how organisations recruit and manager volunteers, that our speakers will come from our member organisations!”.  Keep Christchurch Beautiful, Dementia Canterbury and NZ Plunket will share on Monday 16 October from 1-2pm at the St Albans Community Centre, 1047 Colombo Street.

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