Volunteers are vital to the success of many charities. Volunteers contribute their time, without pay, to advise, support, fundraise, govern, coach, educate, organise events, answer emails, prepare reports or to generally “help out “ and make a difference in their communities. 

Keep accurate information about your volunteers

We encourage registered charities to keep accurate information about the support they receive from volunteers. Charities can use this information to report to their governing boards, funders and the volunteers themselves about the valuable contribution made by volunteers.

We ask for information about the number of volunteers, and the hours they worked, in the annual return form that must be completed by every registered charity. This information shows the volunteer contribution across the charitable sector, and is useful for identifying trends in volunteer numbers and hours over time. The more accurate the information, the more useful it is for volunteer organisations, the government and policy makers.

Here’s a summary of the volunteer information that charities have reported in their annual returns over the last few years:


This self-reported data shows that, on average, there are over 300,000 people volunteering for registered charities and contributing over 1.5 million hours every week. Both the average number of weekly volunteers and the hours they contribute have been decreasing in recent years. It’s worth noting that the number of volunteers may be duplicated if an individual volunteers for a number of registered charities.

Tips for collecting information about volunteers

Large charities that have volunteers numbering in the hundreds or thousands may have advanced systems for managing and tracking volunteer information.

For smaller charities, an Excel spreadsheet can be a helpful way to collect this information. The advantages of using an Excel spreadsheet (or Google Sheets, if your charity uses Google Drive) is that it is easy to calculate the total number and hours worked by volunteers, run reports, and present data in charts.

We have developed a simple Excel template [XLSX, 37 KB] that your charity can use to collect the following information on a monthly basis:

  • volunteer’s name
  • date the person volunteered
  • hours the person volunteered
  • activity the volunteer completed, or project that the volunteer worked on

Additional columns can be added, including the start and finish time to record the actual hours the volunteer worked, if this would be useful information for your charity to collect.

Alternatively, you can record this information in a Word document, or in paper form.

Where to find more information about volunteers

There’s lots of information on the Internet about volunteers. The Volunteering New Zealand website is a great place to start – take a look at their resources here(external link).