Volunteer enthusiasm and time given to community projects in Wellington is as strong as it’s ever been says Julie Thomson, manager of Volunteer Wellington’s member services, when responding to statistics presented this week by SEEK Volunteer. Our experience confirms Statistics NZ quarterly volunteering and donating indicators (Sept 2014 which is the latest release ) which state that the median hours volunteered per month has remained stable at around 10 hours over the last five years.
SEEK surveyed a number (1075) of ‘working’ Wellingtonians and found that 69% either ‘did not have time to volunteer’ or ‘didn’t know how to go about it.’
SEEK’s stats are an interesting revelation for Volunteer Wellington, she said.
‘Of the approximately 3000 volunteer seekers who come through our matching processes every year, those in the ‘working’ (meaning in full-time employment and part-time) category, have increased over the past few years and is currently nearly a third of our total volunteer seeker cohort.’
However there are many other sectors of the community not being considered in the SEEK research, said Ms Thomson. ‘Our volunteer placement picture “as a whole” is a very different scene from that painted by SEEK.
‘Annually we work with between 800 – 1000 employee volunteers who are matched with any one of our 400+ community organisation members to be connected with projects of interest. Last year 87 such projects took place ranging from physical work to skill based programmes and, with several of these employee volunteering teams, being involved on a weekly basis.’
Volunteer Wellington also works with more than 680 student volunteer seekers every year and around the same number of new migrants, she said.
‘Another very high number of volunteer seekers are unemployed and classified as job seekers or people in transition due to illness or disability. At any one time we have more than 500 active volunteer roles on our database. These have been sourced from our 400+ community organisation members and are across the spectrum of work possibilities.
‘An important part of our service is to support our members to develop best practice in the management of volunteers – developing an effective volunteer programme, creating interesting, varied roles that are attractive, interesting, of value – and exciting. This ensures volunteers keep coming back’.
During the past year Volunteer Wellington’s successful placements in the community sector were almost 75%. ‘This is a significant number of new volunteers finding that they have got time; and that the experience of volunteering is beneficial both to themselves and the community with whom they are working.’
Continual promotion was another important service provided by Volunteer Wellington. “Yes we do have to keep telling our story – being out there. Otherwise people won’t know how to go about finding the right place to volunteer for them.
‘So we go to university expos, give seminars and we give regular talks to widely different groups. There is always enthusiasm and interest once people are aware of the diversity and options that make the community sector so vibrant.’