Involving volunteers

Volunteers including governance members often play a significant role and make a big contribution to the work and/or direction of the organisation.

Reasons for volunteering

Volunteers have a wide range of reasons for wanting to become involved in a community group.

These can include:

  • having a political or social belief in the aims of the group 
  • wanting to put something back into the community
  • wanting to meet people and widen social contacts
  • wanting to develop a broader range of skills and experience, and
  • to gain work experience

Contributions of volunteers


  • can give an organisation the power to do more work
  • can provide opportunities to enhance and humanise services 
  • are often seen by clients as giving true community service
  • can be a valuable link between client and organisation
  • can provide the opportunity for the organisation to support its community, by helping people who are not employed gain work experience and new skills
  • can provide flexibility in the hours of service that is not as freely available with paid staff, and
  • can reduce the burden on paid staff. 

Planning for volunteer participation

Volunteer participation within a programme or project should meet the needs of everyone involved – volunteers, paid staff and clients of the organisation. To do this:

  • volunteer work should be planned as an integral part of the organisation's work
  • develop a volunteer policy (see following checklist)
  • volunteer jobs should complement or enhance, but not replace, the work of paid staff, and
  • volunteers should not be restricted to particular jobs solely by reason of their status as volunteers.

Volunteer policy checklist

A volunteer policy should contain statements on:

  • philosophy of the organisation 
  • principles of volunteering 
  • rationale for volunteer involvement 
  • distinction between paid and unpaid work 
  • reimbursement e.g. for travel 
  • training provided 
  • agreement about the nature and purpose of the volunteer involvement and the distinct area of work
  • legal issues 
  • health and safety 
  • grievance disciplinary policy 
  • rights and responsibilities 
  • insurance cover 
  • support and supervision 
  • code of practice 
  • code of ethics 
  • pre-employment check 
  • previous employment 
  • reference audit 
  • police checks, and
  • confidentiality and privacy.

Mana Mahi has further information on guidelines for managing volunteers. This can be found here

Sport New Zealand has some useful information, particularly on finding and keeping volunteers. This can be found here

For more information on volunteers and volunteering, please visit Volunteering New Zealand.


Next page: Further employment information

Previous page: Workplace Wellbeing

Contents of the Community Resource Kit