Frequently Asked Questions


If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.' Kofi Annan


What are the Benefits of Volunteering?

Whether it is important to you to solve a community problem, advance a worthy cause or to develop as a person, volunteering offers many benefits in appreciation for the gift of your time and expertise.

Volunteers mirror the diversity of New Zealand Society with people of all ages, women and men, youth, employees and unemployed, different cultural backgrounds and belief groups being involved.

Volunteering is a means of social inclusion.

Volunteering is one of the ways in which people if all abilities and backgrounds can contribute to positive change.

Volunteering provides informal and non-formal learning opportunities and is therefore a crucial instrument to lifelong learning.

Through volunteering, people gain knowledge, exercise skills and extend their social networks, which can often lead to new or better employment opportunities, as well as personal and social development.

With volunteering you can:


  • Make important networking contacts

  • Learn or develop skills

  • Teach your skills to others

  • Enhance your resume

  • Gain work experience

  • Build self-esteem and self-confidence

  • Improve your health

  • Meet new people

  • Feel needed and valued

  • Express gratitude for help you may have received in the past from an organization

  • Communicate to others that you are ambitious, enthusiastic and care about the community

  • Make a difference in someone's life

  • Improves the likelihood that children will volunteer as an adult

Principles of Volunteering

  • Is undertaken for the common good

  • Is unpaid

  • Is undertaken of one's free will

  • Does not replace paid staff

  • Works across all cultures

  • Benefits the individual, the service and the wider community             

  • These principles have been developed between governments, organisations and agencies throughout the world, all of who are committed to volunteering. 

What are my motivations? And how do they link to my expectations?

Volunteers' motivations can be very mixed and vary from person to person. It is very important to examine your motivations before you make your final decision as these will help you to better reflect on your reasons for volunteering and the particular placement that you have chosen.

Do remember that although there are no 'right' or 'wrong' motivations, there should ideally be a balance between meeting your needs and meeting the needs of others when making a decision to volunteer.

Understanding your own motivations will help you build up a realistic expectation of what you hope to achieve through volunteering.  Volunteers who have unrealistic expectations of their placement can often end up feeling disappointed, frustrated and disillusioned when the experience does not meet their expectations.

On the other hand, having realistic expectations will help you get the most out of your volunteering experience and should make it all the more fulfilling and rewarding for you.

Volunteers have many motivations to volunteer for example:

Gain new skills/knowledge,  Contribute to the community,  Enhance employment potential,  Meet new people.

Discover new interests,  Achieve personal growth,  Get work experience,  Explore new fields of work.

What are my skills? 

Make a list of all the skills you have that you think would be relevant to volunteering.

This could include educational qualifications, paid and voluntary work experience, knowledge of languages, previous experience of living abroad, and any other interests that you think would be of use.

This will assist you when you search the job section on our website and give you a better idea of where you might be able to make the most useful contribution.

What will I gain from volunteering?

Although we'd all like to assume people volunteer for selfless reasons, it's not a bad idea to think about what you'll gain from one particular volunteer position over another. Again it depends on your motivation and the commitment you make to the organisation and yourself.

How flexible am I?

Once you've determined that you're able to take on a volunteer position, you may want to consider whether you're able to compromise on some things that seemed so important to you at the start of the volunteer search. Your ideals may have changed, so think about whether you're open to things like a location you hadn't considered, or a cause you had previously ignored. You may find being flexible teaches you something valuable in the end.

How much time do I have?

It's always better to wait until you know you have the time for some community service. That way, you won't risk leaving the person or organisation you'd be working with in the lurch and in need of a last-minute replacement for you if you choose to leave your position mid-assignment. It's also important to consider how many hours per day, per week, or per month you have to dedicate to a volunteer job. Be realistic.

Do I want an ongoing, a short-term, or a one-time volunteer experience?

Depending on the organisation you'll be volunteering with, you may have the option of choosing how long you'd like your volunteer work to last. Make sure you know what's expected of you before applying to a volunteer position, as you may want to tailor your search to how much time you're willing to offer a cause.

Are there any associated expenses, and if so, will I be reimbursed?

Volunteer positions are by definition unpaid. There are some positions, however, that will require you to pay for some costs out-of-pocket (transportation expenses, for example). You may get reimbursed for some expenses associated with your volunteer job.  Please ask for clarification at the beginning of your volunteer job.

What type of volunteer opportunities would be best suited to me?  

It is very important to think about the type of work that will be the best match between your skills and the needs of the organisation or project.

Think carefully before taking up a voluntary work placement that involves activities of which you have no experience. Think about the different types of opportunities that are available.

That could be anything from practical help, retail, administration and computer IT, being a board member, working with youth or the elderly, working in an op shop, with animals, events and one-off projects.

We have an extensive job search on our website. 


What are the personal circumstances that may affect my choices?

Your personal circumstances will have an influence on the type of volunteering you choose to do and the length of time you choose to do it for. Your family situation, financial circumstances, age, physical and mental health, employment situation, level of education, qualifications, work experience and personal traits, will all, to some extent or another, influence your decision. 


Should I say anything about my personal circumstances?

You are not required to disclose your personal circumstances but if it is to your advantage, do so. This will make your volunteering more effective and fun.

How long will I have to volunteer for?

How long you volunteer for will depend on the opportunity(s) you choose. Some jobs may require two hours per week and others may be more time consuming.

One of the benefits of volunteering is that it can fit into your lifestyle.  However it should not be more than 20 hours per week.

Do I need a CV for the meeting?

It may be a good idea to take your CV or similar documents when you go through the recruitment process with the organisation, especially if you are interested for a skilled opportunity.

Will volunteer work result in paid work?

Occasionally a volunteer job does become a paid job.

What volunteering does however is give you the opportunity to learn new skills and gain up to date experience that may help you get into paid work. You will also be meeting people and making new contacts. This may lead to further employment opportunities.

Will I have a job agreement and job description?

A job description or volunteer agreement makes your job responsibilities clear and you will know exactly what you are required to do. If the organisations do not provide you with one, please ask, as you should know your rights and responsibilities.

What will my responsibilities be?

Your obligations as a volunteer will include things such as turning up for work on time, doing the job to the best of your ability and getting on well with the people you are working with.  You will be told what an organisation expects from you before you accept the job.

All volunteers will be expected to keep activities safe and in-line with policies on legislation.  You will be expected to know the confidentiality policy, health and safety policy and general guidelines of the organisation with which you work.

You will be expected to contribute to a supportive environment and maintain discipline.

Most organisations will do a police check, as required by law.  Sometimes this will take 2-3 weeks, please be patient.

Organisation who make the commitment to you usually wants you to stay and volunteer for them.  Most organisations would like you to make a commitment for at least three months.

You will fill out and sign a volunteer agreement form

What will the organisation's responsibilities be?

The organisation's responsibilities will be such things as giving you worthwhile and challenging work, recognising you as a valued team member and giving you training and support.

Many organisations reimburse their volunteers for out of pocket expenses such as transport. They also may provide a reference for you after you have been in the job for a certain period of time.

Can I apply for another volunteering opportunity?

If the job/s you were referred to weren't suitable or did not work out - yes - Either apply again on line or visit our office again.

What if I start a volunteering opportunity and then find I don't like it?

If this happens, you can leave the job with consultation from the volunteer coordinator of the organisation.

It would be only fair to give a few days' notice of your intention to leave.

Health and Safety when volunteering

It is important to Volunteering Hawkes Bay that all of the volunteers we work with or refer have a safe and enjoyable experience whilst undertaking their voluntary roles.
If you are a volunteer, you must take reasonable care of your own safety and take care not to do anything which could harm another person. You should follow all reasonable safety instructions given to you when you are volunteering at one of our member organisations, so that they can comply with their Health and Safety obligations.

When you are a volunteer worker, you have the same health and safety duties as paid workers. In addition to the duties above you must also co-operate with any reasonable health and safety policy or procedure of the organisation you are volunteering at, as long as this has been notified to you.

Reasonable care means that you should do what a reasonable person would do in the same circumstances. This is for you to determine, however the following considerations may be helpful:

•    the skills and knowledge you have
•    what the risks and outcomes are
•    the resources you have available

Some steps you can take include:

•    only doing tasks that have been assigned to you
•    only doing tasks that you have been trained to do or are familiar with
•    not doing tasks that you think are unsafe
•    reporting new hazards and risks to the organisation you are volunteering at, and to Volunteering Hawkes Bay
•    being familiar with the organisation’s health and safety policies and rules
•    providing feedback on health and safety issues
•    using any personal protection equipment that is provided, and storing and maintaining it as instructed
•    participating in health monitoring programmes
•    reporting any serious harm incident to the organisation you are volunteering for, and to Volunteering Hawkes Bay immediately. If you are in doubt, please report.

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