Involving volunteers

Created: November 1, 2013 at 11:14 AM | Updated: August 23, 2023 | By Community Resource Kit

Volunteering (work people do in their own time for free) is part of New Zealand’s culture. It is seen as a positive way to contribute to society by giving time and skills to help other people.

People in New Zealand who volunteer to help non-profit community groups provide much needed services.  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 clients and the 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 are not easily covered by 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 the checklist below)
  • 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.

Volunteer policy and procedures - a sample



The XYZ Group Trust recognises the valuable contribution to the service made by volunteers and actively encourages their participation, which:

  • enables volunteers to contribute to their community
  • provides volunteers an opportunity for work experience and the development of new skills
  • enhances the range of services available through the XYZ Group Trust
  • allows for wider community participation in the service.

Volunteers will not be used to replace paid workers in the service.


This policy aims to ensure that volunteers working at the XYZ Group Trust have work that is safe significant and satisfying, and that their contribution is appreciated.


  • all volunteers will be provided with a job description
  • all volunteers must sign a Volunteer Agreement before starting work.
  • volunteers are expected to conform to the XYZ Group Trust’s Code of Ethics.

Volunteer Recruitment Process:

  1. Requests for volunteers will be widely advertised in the region and amongst the cultural group/s of the consumers as required.
  2. Interested volunteers should complete an Application for a Volunteer Position. (A copy should be included).
  3. The XYZ Group Trust will arrange an interview with the volunteer, which will cover the following areas:
  • name, address, telephone number
  • other languages
  • area(s) of interest
  • experience
  • current driver’s licence, insurance and vehicle registration if volunteer driver
  • health record (in case of emergency)
  • times available
  • commitment
  • policy for reimbursement for expenses
  • names and contact details of two referees
  • police clearance
  • The XYZ Group Trust will inform the volunteer as soon as possible of the decision
  • if the application is accepted, the volunteer should be given a copy of the Volunteer Worker’s Agreement, the relevant job description and an induction package
  • if the volunteer’s application is rejected, they will be given the reasons why
  • sufficient time should be allowed for the volunteer to read the information and ask questions before signing the Agreement
  • the co-ordinator will match the volunteer with appropriate consumer(s), where possible, taking into account the consumer’s wishes and their language spoken, culture and interests.

Creative New Zealand have a very comprehensive resource called Volunteer Management Toolkit. Although it is written for volunteers in the Arts, this resource is easily adapted to other sectors.

Sport New Zealand have some great information for managing volunteers here.  Their resource about finding and keeping volunteers can be found here and a Volunteer Management Toolkit here.

For more information and guides on volunteers and volunteering, please visit Volunteering New Zealand.  They have developed two digital tools: 

  • LeadMe - a free online self-assessment tool designed for you to take charge of managing your volunteer programme effectively and
  • InvolveMe - how volunteers, leaders of volunteers, organisation managers and board members view the culture, communication, strategy, and resources of their organisation.

Next page: Further employment information

Previous page: Workplace Wellbeing

Contents of the Community Resource Kit