Reimagining Volunteering: Strategy 2030


Date of Publication:  2020

Authors:  Red Cross New Zealand

Produced by:  Red Cross New Zealand

The research was written to help direct Red Cross New Zealand’s ‘Reimagining Volunteering’ project which is due to complete in 2022. It considers the Volunteering New Zealand definition of volunteering and cultural context for volunteering, as well as participation and diversity in volunteering reported in the 2020 State of Volunteering Report (n > 3,000 participants). Of those volunteers who completed the State of the Volunteering survey, over 85% identified as Pakeha or European. People over the age of 45 made up 71% of all survey respondents.

Understanding the motivation of volunteers is important, as this impacts the design of the role, recruitment, training, retention, and recognition. The main reasons participants gave as to why they volunteered was to give back to the community (81% of participants).  There were many barriers to becoming involved in volunteering (e.g., time pressures from work, family, caregiving; leisure activities; financial barriers). Different ages and ethnicities tended to have different motivations and barriers for volunteering.

The report highlights key trends in volunteering over the last two years; changing expectations, need for flexibility, an ageing volunteer workforce, the disconnect between roles offered and volunteer interests, globalisation, virtual volunteering, decentralised reporting lines; informal self-organising groups, and the need to improve diversity. 

Several emerging types of volunteering are described: short term or project-based volunteering, spontaneous volunteering, digital volunteering, collective volunteering (corporate groups or family/intergenerational volunteering), and light touch volunteering (searching an app or computer website and applying for a role they are interested in and start almost immediately).

A model of volunteer management highlights eight features that make volunteering successful.  It needs to be inclusive, flexible, impactful, connected to the cause or organisation, balanced so it doesn’t overburden volunteers, enjoyable, voluntary (the volunteer has freely chosen to do it), and meaningful.

The report charts four stages in the volunteer journey including volunteer needs in each stage and the effective actions organisations can take to ensure these are met. These four stages are “doubter”, “starter”, “doer”, and “stayer”.  A detailed account of the transitions between each stage is included. 

The full report is available here