Definition & Principles of Volunteering

Advertisers on SEEK Volunteer must adhere to the following definitions and principles.

Definition of Volunteering

More than one million New Zealanders are involved in some form of voluntary work in their communities. They make a huge contribution to New Zealand society in almost every type of activity: from sports, recreation, arts, culture and heritage, and faith-based to emergency and social services, health, education, advocacy, professional associations and unions, international, conservation and the environment. Volunteers are vital if we are to maintain and develop sustainable and participatory communities.

Cultural perspectives are an important consideration for Aotearoa. There is a huge diversity of situations in which people do voluntary activities, and they may or may not define these actions as volunteering. Māori, Pasifika and many ethnic communities may consider volunteering as the fulfilment of family and social obligations and responsibilities. These activities revolve around helping, sharing and giving – first to one’s immediate family, closely followed by one’s extended family, then to one’s ethnic community, and finally to the wider community.

Principles of Volunteering

Generally work or activity is defined as volunteering if it meets three criteria:

  • It is not undertaken for financial gain, i.e. unpaid.
    This does not exclude receiving reimbursement for expenses incurred while volunteering.
  • It brings benefits to a third party for the common good.
    This allows for a broad interpretation of who or what may benefit – neighbours, the environment, society – but it is usually intended to exclude a volunteer’s immediate family.
  • It is undertaken of one’s own free will.
    This distinguishes volunteering from situations of explicit external coercion, such as work carried out as part of a requirement for social welfare or as part of a community-based sentence.