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Have your say: ComVoices Covid-19 and State of the Sector survey 2020

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23 June 2020

Community and voluntary organisations are urged to take part in the biennial ComVoices State of the Sector survey.

The survey provides vital information about the wellbeing of our community organisations which then helps ComVoices advocate effectively on your behalf.  We could not have begun to imagine what has transpired over the last few months.  Covid-19 has meant new ways of working and changed the landscape for our community organisations.

“We are keen to see what has changed in the past two years and the impact of Covid-19. How are community organisations faring and what might that mean for the people of New Zealand?” says ComVoices chair Chris Glaudel.

In an election year it’s more important than ever that politicians and decision-makers understand the value of the work we do for community around New Zealand.

The 2020 ‘State of the Sector’ report will include comparative data from earlier surveys and a commentary on current issues and trends facing the sector.

ComVoices invites all community sector organisations to add their voice to the survey, which can be accessed via this link

The survey will close 5pm, 20 July 2020. 


For more information, please contact ComVoices Chair Chris Glaudel at 027 462 0605 or at

Educating political parties to help the community sector

By | Reports On Meetings And Events | No Comments

Wednesday 10 June 2020

A webinar brought together six Members of Parliament and political party members to discuss their policies, priorities and responses to the needs and challenges of Aotearoa’s community and voluntary sector.

For a summary of the discussions visit the Hui E! Community Aotearoa website

You can read the full webinar summary compiled by Hui E! Community Aotearoa here

Six political parties discuss their support for the community and voluntary sector

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11 June 2020

Yesterday, a webinar brought together six Members of Parliament and political party members to discuss their policies, priorities and responses to the needs and challenges of Aotearoa’s community and voluntary sector.

“There’s no doubt over the last couple of months, the absolute value of the community sector has been demonstrated in a very visceral, very genuine, heartfelt and appreciated way,” says Hon Poto Williams, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector and Labour Party representative.

Jan Logie, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Justice and Green Party representative, acknowledged that “Central Government relies 100 per cent on our community networks and organisations to be able to deliver on our policy agendas. That reality is not properly recognised yet.”

Discussion around the difficulty of gaining sufficient funding for the community sector occurred. The primary ask from the community sector is the re-establishment of an Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector which was absorbed into the Department of Internal Affairs in 2011. The community sector believes this will improve the sector being viewed as an equal partner across government and will open opportunities to better guide policy and budgetary decision-making for the sector. 

Hon Tracey Martin, Minister for Children, Internal Affairs and Seniors and NZ First representative, talked about the current impossibility of the community sector gaining sufficient funding from annual government budgetary rounds. This was primarily due to the decision-making being located within a government department. She said that the community sector currently isn’t recognised as having the level of mana required within government to advocate for a complete change to the funding system.

Geoff Simmons, The Opportunities Party representative, talked about the biggest barrier for the community sector being the top-down mindset of government. “We design everything in ivory towers and then send it down to community groups to deliver,” Simmons explained.

“[The community sector] is not being heard by the government and they don’t feel that the government understands the issues that they face day-to-day and [therefore are] not taking their policy decisions on-board,” said Brooke van Velden, ACT Party representative.

“We’re all saying the same thing – that we need a systems change – and we all agree with that,” said Alfred Ngaro, National Party representative. “Our NGO and our voluntary sector are the backbone of our country but in order for that to be recognised, we have to realise that part of the systems change, the thinking change, is that social development is not separate from economic development,” Ngaro said.

Watch the full discussion online: A summary of the discussions will be published next week.

The webinar was co-hosted by Hui E! Community Aotearoa, ComVoices, Sue Barker Charities Law, and Trust Democracy, and facilitated by Rawdon Christie. Sponsored by the Todd Foundation.


For more information, please contact:

Rochelle Stewart-Allen
Pou Kaiārahi (General Manager) 
Hui E! Community Aotearoa
Phone: 027 36 38 665

What does a thriving community and voluntary sector look like as we move into a post-pandemic era?

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Elections matter and are a good opportunity to engage directly with those who make the decisions which impact the wellbeing of our society.  The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the inequalities which have festered far too long. Now is the time to shape a new way forward which provides as much focus on our social, cultural and environmental needs as the economic obsessions of the past.

Hui E! Community Aotearoa, ComVoices, Sue Barker Charities Law and Trust Democracy are bringing together Members of Parliament and political party members to tell us about their party’s vision and planned policies to support a thriving and sustainable sector. The kōrero will be a free webinar moderated by a political commentator and there will be time for questions from the audience.  As an on-line webinar, you can participate from wherever you live or work.  Please join us and make your voice heard!

Webinar: Educating political parties to help the community sector

When: Wednesday 10 June, 4pm-5.30pm

Where: Online (Zoom)

Who:  Confirmed speakers are Poto Williams (Labour), Jan Logie (Greens), Tracey Martin (NZ First), Alfred Ngaro (National), Brooke van Velden (Act) and Geoff Simmons (TOP)

Grab your webinar ticket here to receive the link – Sign up for a free ticket.

You can also keep up to date with the latest information and join the conversation on the webinar Facebook event page where we encourage people to join now to initiate discussion around the most important issues to be focused on during the webinar.

A good guide to what may be in store can be gleaned from what the parties have suggested their priorities will be at the last election.  Have a read of this short summary of Community & Voluntary sector party policies from 2017 in advance to understand the promises unfulfilled.

We gratefully acknowledge the Todd Foundation for their support of this webinar.

Have your say: ComVoices State of the Sector survey 2020

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Our work in the community and voluntary sector is needed more than ever with the pressures on individuals and whānau in our communities – and in an election year we want to be able to clearly say what we do and how our sector makes a difference to the lives of so many New Zealanders.

The information we gather from the biennial ComVoices State of the Sector survey tells us about the wellbeing of our community organisations, which we can then weave into our conversations with politicians and other decision-makers. It’s very much a case of ‘news you can use’.

Please take some time to complete the survey

Your response will be anonymous, and it might be helpful to have your financial information handy before you begin.  As all responses will be anonymous we cannot remove duplicate entries and ask that each organisation fills out the survey only once.

The survey is open until 5pm, 31 March 2020. We’ll then analyse the responses and report back to you in May 2020.

Please share the survey with organisations in your network

Any questions, please feel free to contact ComVoices by email at

ComVoices Meetings – 2020

By | ComVoices Meetings, Events | No Comments

All monthly meetings are held 10.30am to 12 midday on the first Tuesday in the month, Level 7, Ranchhod Tower, 110 Lambton Quay/39 The Terrace, Wellington.

  • Tuesday 11 February (exception to the schedule)
  • Tuesday 3 March
  • Tuesday 7 April
  • Tuesday 5 May
  • Tuesday 2 June
  • Tuesday 7 July
  • Tuesday 4 August
  • Tuesday 1 September
  • Tuesday 6 October
  • Tuesday 3 November
  • Tuesday 1 December

Community and voluntary organisations continue to make a difference in our communities

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Media release

12 December 2019 – For immediate use

Community and voluntary organisations continue to make a difference in our communities

The country’s community and voluntary organisations are delivering services where they matter – to New Zealanders in need – even as they continue to grapple with a number of significant challenges.

That’s one of the key findings from a survey of community and voluntary sector organisations carried out by their network ComVoices ( The survey is carried out biennially to provide a snapshot of how community organisations are faring.

ComVoices Chair Chris Glaudel says community and voluntary organisations provide many essential social services to individuals and whānau in communities around New Zealand.

“We help people and their communities flourish, often in the face of some tough times, and we’re proud of the contribution our member organisations are making to the wellbeing of this country,” he says.

“At the same time, there’s no doubt that we’re operating in an increasingly complex environment with some challenges around funding and other resourcing, and we’re working with people who often have high or complex needs, and in communities that can really do with a hand.

“We’re continually adapting to the requirements of the environment we’re in as we’re committed to providing valuable social services to our communities, while continuing to advocate for more resources with the people able to make these decisions.”

The main survey findings include:

Service delivery

  • 69 percent of organisations report more people are using their services than two years ago (65 percent in 2016), but only 31.5 percent (34 percent in 2016) have more staff than two years ago.
  • 5 percent are doing more work than specified in contracts (68 percent in 2016).
  • The needs of clients and the community are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, service provision is becoming more challenging and time-intensive.

Financial pressures

  • 34 percent of organisations were unable to offer staff a wage increase in the last two years (42 percent in 2016).
  • One organisation is facing closure and 10 are worried about their financial viability. Nearly half the organisations are struggling to make ends meet – an increase from 33 percent in 2016.
  • Half the organisations are using their reserves to help fund service delivery, and half of those will only be able to sustain this for one more year or less.
  • The sector is highly reliant on grants, donations and central government funding. Nearly 45 percent of respondents are seeking to support themselves by generating their own income.

Organisational pressures

  • The sector continues to undergo restructuring, with 44 percent of organisations saying they have restructured in the past two years. Restructuring is often carried out to change or improve the way an organisation works, or to improve its financial position.
  • Half the organisations say the specifications in their government contracts have changed significantly over the past two years. This can result in additional compliance requirements and costs, without additional funding.
  • Forty percent of organisations say the contract changes have not benefitted them.

A full list of ComVoices members is available at


For more information, please contact ComVoices Chair Chris Glaudel at 027 462 0605 or at

State of the Sector Survey Snapshot

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View State of the Sector Survey snapshot

View Media Release

This is the third in a continuing series of Snapshot Surveys conducted by ComVoices.

The survey is called a ‘snapshot’ because it is designed to given an understanding of the NGO sector at a given time.  The survey gives community organisations the opportunity to discuss the issues and experiences they are facing, and to highlight trends.

First run in 2014, and then again in 2016, the survey has become a key source of information about the wellbeing of community organisations working across a broad range of community issues and interests.

The 2018 survey shows that the country’s community and voluntary organisations are delivering services where they matter – to New Zealanders in need – even as they continue to grapple with a number of significant challenges.

Minority communities gaining equitable access

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Snap, Crackle and Pop breakfast for MPs and the community sector

25 September 2019, focus: Supporting minority communities to gain equitable access to meet community need

Read the following commentary from Vanisa Dhiru, President, National Council of Women NZ

New Zealand is now home to more than 230 different ethnic groups speaking in excess of 160 different languages. To service and engage with such diversity is a challenge – not only for the public sector but the community sector as well. This was the back drop for the ComVoices Parliamentary breakfast held last week in Wellington where supporting minority communities to gain equitable access to meet community need was the focus.

Post the terrorist attacks of 15 March, racism, social inclusion and the diversity of New Zealand has been very much in the public discussion; and how we can all adequately deal with such issues. The lack of capability to understand and effectively respond is one of the many areas community representatives have highlighted in the past months.

Panel member Tayo Agunlejika, Executive Director of Multicultural New Zealand underlined the absence of ethnic diversity in governance roles in NGO’s, local councils and leadership roles in the public service. Even when such representation is sought, there can be resistance – such as recent racist letters that have been sent to ethnic women running in local body elections, defacing of campaign collateral, and bias appointment processes.

Inspector Rakesh Naidoo from Police National Headquarters shared his experience of an organisation building the necessary language and cultural skills to reflect the communities they serve. Without such essential skills, organisations such as the NZ Police would not be able to professionally service their communities and retain trust and confidence. He spoke of our nation’s connection with the Asia Pacific region, and our close cultural and economic connections with this part of the world. He shared the need to think globally when we act locally.

Equitable recruitment, diversity of boards, governance succession planning and partnering with tangata whenua were highlighted as some immediate solutions that could be implemented to address access.

Attendees observed the lack of representation around the discussion tables, given the broad services they provide to our diverse communities. I reflected on my own journey of being a manager and leader in the NGO sector and how few ethnic leaders there are.

The saying “nothing about us, without us” is important to reflect on when we are developing service provision, and have an inclusive workforce that reflects the communities we serve.

NZ born Indian Vanisa Dhiru lives in Wellington and has held a number of paid and volunteer national leadership roles across the community sector. She is a member of the AsiaNZ Leadership Network and Global Women NZ.

Snap, Crackle and Pop – Parliamentary Breakfast September 2019

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Breakfast for MPs and the Community Sector

Hosted by Hon Jenny Salesa, Minister for Ethnic Communities

Focus: Supporting minority communities to gain equitable access to meet community need


  • Panel of NGO leaders sharing key perspectives, challenges and ways forward (Vanisa Dhiru from National Council of Women, Tayo Agunlejika from Multicultural New Zealand with Inspector Rakesh Naidoo, Police National Headquarters)
  • Facilitated discussion on diversity and the community sector

For a summary of the morning’s key conversations from Vanisa Dhiru our MC, click here