Did you know New Zealand has 500,000 volunteers in sports and recreation alone? Imagine how many there are across every industry and sector. Volunteers are crucial in driving social, environmental and economic transformation through organisations like those in the Funding HQ family. We can all be inspired by the loyalty, generosity, and skills they offer without any expectation of pay.

Have a plan that recognises the value of volunteers

Every organisation that works with volunteers should have a volunteer management plan which recognises their contribution. Funding HQ coaches you through the essentials of setting up your plan – and for good reason. The value of volunteers is immense. We encourage you to think about volunteers as a type of fundraising income stream. After all, the donation of time can save you a lot of money and generate awareness, further support and positive reputation.

A volunteer management plan will help you steward your volunteers through every stage of the volunteer management cycle. This cycle has five key stages, and each is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate your volunteers’ importance.

  1. Identification: When your organisation looks at where volunteers could help, look at what skills they have and how they can help fill in the gaps you have.
  2. Recruitment: When you ask someone to volunteer, it’s an opportunity to show that you respect and know the worth of what they can bring.
  3. Induction: Welcoming your volunteers to the team and giving them what they need to enjoy and thrive in their role is essential.
  4. Management: Good communication gives volunteers a sense of community and allows them to stay connected with your organisation’s purpose.
  5. Retention: Every volunteer deserves to be appreciated and your stewardship programme can recognise their efforts in a whole range of ways.

Show your appreciation regularly

There are opportunities to acknowledge your volunteers at different points in your work and throughout the year. Project milestones, season kick-offs and Christmas might be good times to reach out.

When you show your appreciation, think about why your volunteers were first attracted to help you. If the social aspect is important, volunteers may welcome a casual get-together. Others may appreciate a personal note from your team, Board or those at the front line. Volunteers usually appreciate thoughtful gestures like these more than gifts.

However you choose to acknowledge and thank your volunteers, do it with sincerity. Volunteers are the hands and hearts in so many of our organisations. Let’s take every opportunity to celebrate the way volunteers enrich our lives and help our communities thrive.