Remote Volunteering

Whether it is coaching a sports team, delivering ‘meals-on-wheels’ to the elderly, planting native trees, or sitting on a Trust Board, volunteering is a huge part of New Zealand culture.  

Many newcomers to New Zealand have found volunteering useful for networking, making friends and also landing employment –believe it or not we even have a national strategy around supporting migrant volunteering.

Volunteering and New Zealand Work Culture:
1.2 million new zealanders volunteer to at least one charity
new zealand volunteering contributes 3.5 billion dollars to GDP

According to Statistics New Zealand, it’s estimated that some 1.2 million kiwis volunteer for at least one charity, and the value of volunteer labour alone contributes $3.5 billion to our GDP.

As well as helping the organisation out and providing the volunteer with a sense of well-being, volunteering is also advantageous to jobseekers.  It can enable you to try out a new career, gain relevant on-the-job experience and sometimes get a ‘foot-in-the-door ‘of a new organisation.  I myself have had volunteer jobs create a pathway into paid work both overseas and in New Zealand.

How can I get into NZ volunteering while I'm offshore?

Due to Covid 19, NZ borders are of course effectively closed to most for the moment, but I still believe that much preparation for your NZ move can continue – including tapping into any remote volunteering opportunities.  These can enable you to gain experience, meet new people, get a sense of the NZ work and communication style or perhaps even get a local reference.

Obviously, this may only work with certain skill sets and certain organisations, but one silver lining of Covid 19 is that it has adapted the way that people have been able to work and are willing to work.

Client volunteering story:

One of our clients here at NZIC (let’s call him “Joe”) has managed to pickup some remote volunteering for a NZ charity by using his skills as a graphic designer, and he’s now into his 5th month of this work.

He told me that it was a great opportunity to grow his network from offshore and not only has he meet other designers, he has also improved his written and spoken English.

"Furthermore, I started learning Te Reo Māori for myself because the charitable trust I am volunteering for connects kaimahi (community workers) serving NZ whānau (family) with free or discounted goods and services provided by local business and volunteers.”
“Practising the language gives me additional insights into the NZ culture,and more understanding.  I am very thankful that Jen (my boss) gives me great feedback on my work, and I can also mentor two designers –so it’s a win-win for both of us.”

So how do you obtain a volunteering role in NZ whilst you’re still based offshore? It sounds like a long shot, doesn’t it? Well, to be honest, it will take effort and tenacity, and the whole idea may be slightly unusual for a NZ-based charity, but as we’ve seen above through Joe’s example, if you’ve got spare time to give, along with skills you can contribute from anywhere –with a genuine approach, someone will probably take you up on your offer.

As well as directly approaching charities that you are personally interested in, you can also find opportunities on Seek Volunteer, where there is even now a category for remote or online volunteering.  Other places to look include Do Good Jobs, (which has a mix of paid and voluntary roles) and on charities’ own websites.  

Whilst NZ has official volunteering centres located in the main cities and towns (e.g. Volunteering Auckland), they are unlikely to be able to link you with roles,as their job is to work with those in their local community.  However, you might still find it useful to browse their opportunities to gain an idea of which organisations are looking for support and what sort of skills they need. Good Luck!.

Article by: Anna Fyfe (Job Search Coach)

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