Quality volunteers essential
A hectic introduction to the world of volunteering might put many off giving up their time for free but for World of Wearableart (WOW) volunteer-turned staffer Jaysell Gopal, it was just the rush she was after.
‘‘You were meant to pick one week of the three but I took it as meaning you had to do all three, so I did all of them.’’
Despite the busy three weeks that ensued, Gopal said it was a rush to be involved with a large event, so she decided to do it all again. That was 12 years ago.
Gopal now has a paid role within the WOW team, managing merchandise sales and a large team of volunteers.
The annual show, which has been held in Wellington for the past 13 years, is currently on the hunt for more than 100 volunteers to follow in Gopal’s footsteps, working front of house or backstage come September.
‘‘Volunteers for us are such an integral part of show time, we would be absolutely lost without them.’’
The use of volunteers in events was a ‘‘winwin’’, according to Gopal, with those involved gaining hands-on experience dealing with lots of people.
‘‘From their volunteering and seeing how it all works, a lot of them have been inspired to continue into industries like event management and journalism.
‘‘It’s quite special to see where everyone ends up, knowing they were inspired to do that after a three-year stint at WOW.’’
Worldwide, it’s not uncommon for large events to use volunteers with the Olympics and Commonwealth Games relying on thousands of people to give up their time to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Similarly in New Zealand, big sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and the NZ Sevens tournament rely on volunteers.
‘‘For the tournament to succeed, having quality volunteers is key. They are essential,’’ tournament director Craig Morton said.
‘‘Volunteer programmes have evolved and become a lot more sophisticated.’’
Morton said about 80 people had already registered to volunteer for next year’s event in Hamilton, with a total of 140 needed.
‘‘We’ve had a lot of people from Wellington wanting to remain involved in the tournament, which is great.’’
Senior advisor of volunteer strategy Ken Allen from Sport Wellington said it was important volunteers felt supported by organisations, to ensure they remained happy to work for free.
‘‘Part of my role is to support organisations with how they recruit, retain, recognise and manage their volunteers.
‘‘For event volunteers, personal growth and recognition are far more rewarding than any perks. It’s also the social aspect and being part of something big that matters.’’
Allen practices what he preaches, volunteering his time for the Wellington Phoenix as well as providing coaching to up-and-coming netball umpires.
‘‘For me volunteering is about giving back to the sport, coaching ... and staying fit.’’