The Power of Individual and Collective Contribution

1 May 2014 | Magazine Articles

The Power of Individual and Collective Contribution

June is a big month for those of us in the volunteering world, with National Volunteer Week (June 15-22) prompting a range of initiatives around the country to celebrate and recognise volunteers and volunteering. From the provision of chocolate fish and other treats, or small celebratory morning teas, to large scale volunteer recognition awards or events, June is when it happens most often!

Each year Volunteering New Zealand works with a panel to set a theme for National Volunteer Week, and this year that theme is:

“Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te tangata.”
“With your contribution and my contribution the people will live.”

In announcing this year’s theme, Volunteering New Zealand explained: "The whakataukī (Maori proverb) refers to co-operation and the combination of resources to get ahead. It suggests that if we pool our ideas, with equal respect for all parties, we will get a superior result and everyone will benefit. VNZ has selected this proverb to encourage individuals to bring together their own skills, knowledge, and experience to share via volunteering and benefit the wider community.”

Volunteering in our community takes many forms, and much of it is not seen by the public. It is easy to see the volunteer effort that happens to deliver frontline services, but large numbers of volunteers are working behind the scenes to also make these services available.

One of the organisations that we work closely with is Riding for the Disabled. If ever you see photos of their fantastic services, you will more than likely see a photo of a horse and rider, and a volunteer leading the horse. However, there are many more volunteers involved.

To operate effectively, not only does this organisation need volunteers who are comfortable with horses, children, and people with disabilities, but they also need volunteers with some very specific skills. They need someone to develop and maintain their website and database, help with their accounts, and they need board members with a range of skills, experience and backgrounds.

They also need volunteers to assist with their large property, gardening, grounds maintenance, fence painting – and at times they bring in a group of volunteers for a one-off blitz on the property. There are volunteers who care for the horses – grooming, feeding, checking health and wellbeing, volunteers who help with publicity, promotion, events, and who make the morning tea.

This organisation, like most voluntary groups, needs a wide range of involvement from people with different skills and experience to make it possible to run their programmes.

Lots of the volunteers that we work with are interested in volunteering at events and functions, giving them a fun experience, something they can get involved in for a short time without a long term or ongoing commitment, although many go back to the same event year after year.

The majority of the big events in our communities are heavily reliant on volunteer effort to plan, organise, deliver and pack down. This year’s Relay for Life in Hamilton involved more than 100 volunteers, some involved on an ongoing basis, others just for a short time. The average Balloons Over Waikato event is also a huge collaborative effort, averaging input from 200 volunteers – involved at every stage of this event - everything from planning, crewing for a pilot, to picking up rubbish and directing traffic at the event.

Every one of us has a range of knowledge, skills and experience – and each of us can make a valued contribution in our community. Never doubt that there will be an organisation out there that will benefit greatly by adding your passion and skillset to its team.

If you would like help to find a great volunteering opportunity that will make the most of what you have to offer, contact your local volunteer centre. Listing a wide range of different roles with community organisations in their local area, Volunteer Centres have staff that can help you work out which role would be the best fit for you.

*“Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te tangata.”
“With your contribution and my contribution the people will live.”

**Heather Moore - Tonic Magazine (Issue 22, May-July 2014)***