Published on 11th April 2011
VSA (Volunteer Service Abroad) is encouraging all its volunteers to fundraise at least $2,000 before they set off on their assignments.
Chief executive officer, Debbie Snelson, says the money that volunteers raise will help ensure that VSA’s programme continues at its current level.
“In order to maintain our current programme we need to find an extra $18 a day for every volunteer we have in the field. We have about 100 volunteers on assignment at any one time, which means we have to find an additional $657,000 a year.”
Ms Snelson says the VSA Council’s recent decision to encourage both short and long-term volunteers to raise money before they leave on assignment is in line with similar volunteer organisations overseas.
British organisation VSO (Volunteer Service Overseas), for example, encourages its volunteers to raise a minimum of £900 (NZ$1,900), while youth-led development agency Restless Development, which sends young New Zealanders on 10-month assignments to Zambia, requires its volunteers to raise at least NZ$10,500.
“Even though we do not pay our volunteers, we do pay their airfares, health insurance, accommodation, food and transport costs,” she says. “The funding we get through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is very generous, but it is not enough to cover all our volunteer expenses.”
The new policy will apply to all volunteers selected after 1 May, 2011. Ms Snelson says fundraising will not be compulsory, but she expects most volunteers will be happy to raise money for VSA.
“The more money we raise, the more volunteers we can send. Based on VSO’s experience in Britain, where many volunteers easily exceed the minimum fundraising target, I’m confident VSA volunteers will get into the spirit of the exercise.”
She says the money raised will not be used to fund individual assignments, but rather to help pay the costs of keeping all VSA volunteers on assignment.
The decision to encourage volunteers to fundraise follows VSA’s recent announcement that it will focus its work in the wider Pacific region, and phase out its programmes in Africa and South East Asia. VSA will also offer more short-term volunteering assignments throughout the Pacific, making it possible for more skilled New Zealanders to volunteer.
“We are a small organisation with limited resources, and we need to use those resources in the most efficient way we can.”