Charities and community sector rely significantly on the generosity of volunteers

by Michelle Kitney, Chief Executive, Volunteering New Zealand (credit Comvoices)

COVID-19 has highlighted the need to understand the value, impact and potential of volunteering, and the infrastructure, that enables volunteers to enrich Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Last year, Statistics New Zealand released the Non-profit institutions satellite account: 2018 (NPISA) This revealed some interesting facts about our volunteering landscape.

It highlighted how the charitable and community sector relies significantly on the generosity of volunteers.

In 2018, there were 115,000 non-profit institutions in Aotearoa New Zealand. Eighty-nine per cent of non-profit institutions did not employ staff.

Non-profit institutions account included a monetary value of the volunteer labour in non-profit institutions. This unpaid work contributed a whopping $4 billion dollars to the economy in 2018.

Another report, by JB Were’s New Zealand Support Report (Feb 2020) also identified volunteer labour as a critical component of New Zealand’s non-profit institutions’ operating systems.

As we work together to respond to and recover from COVID-19, organisations will need to focus their resources and efforts to nurture and engage their volunteer workforce. Many organisations will need to engage new cohorts of volunteers.

We are already seeing the benefits of a community-led approach for all sectors of the community. There is considerable problem solving already occurring within local communities. Volunteers are a key part of this.

Infrastructure such the Volunteer Centre Network and organisations that enable peer-to-peer support like Neighbourhood Support New Zealand have been pivotal in enabling a community-led response to COVID-19.

The Volunteer Centre Network has 17 centres around the country. They connect volunteers to community organisations delivering services and support within their communities during the response and recovery to COVID-19.

Volunteering New Zealand can help connect you with The Volunteer Centre Network, volunteers and opportunities to help. 

Key findings – Non-profit institutions satellite account: 2018:

  • 115,0000 Not Profit Institutions (NPIs) contribution to GDP in 2018 was $8.1 billion, this was 2.8 percent of GDP. In 2013 they contributed $6.2 billion (2.9 percent).
  • The value of voluntary labour (or formal unpaid work) in New Zealand’s NPIs was estimated to be $4.0 billion in 2018, compared with $3.5 billion in 2013.
  • Volunteering hours have remained stable at 159 million per annum. The value of this volunteer labour is estimated at $4 billion.
  • There has been a reduction in the overall number of people volunteering, from 1.2 million, to just over 1 million.
  • In 2018, 89 percent of NPIs did not employ staff.

About Age Concern New Zealand 'on research'

At the heart of everything Age Concern does is a passion to see older people experience well-being, respect, dignity, and to be included and valued. We support, inform and advise older people on issues such as access to health care, transport, housing, financial entitlements, and social opportunities. We also work to combat real problems in our society, like elder abuse and neglect, chronic loneliness and social isolation. We provide specialist services with trained and qualified professionals able to give expert advice and assistance. Age Concern is a charity and relies on the support of volunteers and public donations to do much of the work we do. To help us help older people, please consider making a donation of your time or money. To see how, visit
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