Community Scoop

Elevating the voices of volunteers – state of volunteering 2020

full page infographicMichelle Kitney

Kaihautū – Chief Executive | Volunteering New Zealand

Volunteering New Zealand’s State of Volunteering Report 2020 released in early July presents a detailed view of the state of volunteering in Aotearoa New Zealand at a critical point in the nation’s history—just prior to the Level 4 lockdown being imposed as the Covid-19 pandemic hit our shores.

The report is supported by quantitative data from official sources, as well as responses received from the State of Volunteering online survey.

Elevating the voice of volunteers

This research includes the voices and opinions of both volunteers and volunteer involving organisations. In fact we heard from over 3,000 people including community leaders, managers of volunteers and voluntary organisations, and frontline volunteers.

The survey of organisations included questions around organisational strategy, workforce recruitment and retention, funding, diversity, inclusion, and general challenges from the changing landscape of volunteering. We also surveyed frontline volunteers, with a focus on their background/demographics, volunteering experiences, and motivations for volunteering. Both surveys offered significant opportunity for free-text answers.

These are some of the things we heard:

 “Volunteering keeps me connected to people and gives me personal satisfaction. It gives me a sense of connection and purpose in the community.”  Volunteer, Kerikeri

I am always amazed at the number of people willing to volunteer and their level of engagement. The important work we do would not happen were it not for our volunteers. Thank you to the volunteers.”  Chief Executive, Volunteering Organisation, Nelson

“Through volunteering, I am always learning. I can attend trainings and upskill if I want to. I enjoy having the choice to improve myself and to do the right thing for my community.” Volunteer, Christchurch

Themes and findings

Four key themes are evident from the results of our survey and from Volunteering New Zealand’s broader work. The report findings are explored thematically around these four key themes: 

  1. Community, diversity, inclusion
  2. Engaging and recognising volunteers
  3. Funding, administration, regulatory compliance
  4. Management and strategy

Key findings from the State of Volunteering 2020 report include:

  • An ageing volunteer base is noted as a concern by 35.8% of respondents, with a lack of younger volunteers also cited by many.
  • A lack of volunteers was cited by 36.6% of respondents as their biggest challenge before lockdown.
  • Pākehā/Europeans made up more than 80% of survey respondents.
  • With this in mind, 61.5% of organisations report having a diversity and inclusion strategy of some sort in place.
  • A lack of volunteers is reported by 36.6% of organisations as their single biggest challenge.
  • Volunteers report increasing preference for episodic, project-based volunteering.
  • Competing vocational, social, educational and caring commitments were cited as the biggest barriers to volunteering.
  • Developing skills, connecting with, and helping the community are cited as the biggest motivations for volunteering.
  • A notable 82.3% of respondents intend to continue with their current volunteering role long term.
  • Despite the increasing reliance on technology, word of mouth remains the most popular way for volunteers (46.6%) to hear about volunteering opportunities across all age cohorts.
  • Organisations report the challenge of raising funding, as well as competition for the same funding pool. Smaller organisations in particular note the increasing burden and time required for writing grant applications, as well as going up against larger, more established organisations.

 Learn more

Volunteering New Zealand hopes that this report can further assist the sector in promoting inclusive, impactful and meaningful volunteering which fosters community connections.

The full report can be accessed here:


This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network. The views presented here are not necessarily those of ComVoices.

ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. It was established so that sector organisations would have a more powerful voice at Government level and in the community.

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