Far more than simply giving up time for a worthy cause, volunteering is a two-way street, Sandra Rickey says.

Monday is International Volunteer Managers Day and for four years the Volunteer Whanganui manager has used that as an opportunity to "dare" prominent locals to volunteer for a few hours.

Rickey said "I Dare You" was about promoting volunteering and showing the benefits it had for the volunteer as well as the organisation.

"It gives people a sense of purpose for a day and a direction. It also looks good on a CV and they're also out there meeting people," she said.

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Former councillor Sue Westwood was on deck at Volunteer Whanganui HQ writing Christmas cards which will go out to the organisation's 957 volunteers later this year.

Westwood said being retired gave her time and "if I've got skills they can use I only have to be asked".

Whanganui had a sense of community which encouraged people to get out and volunteer, she said.

Meanwhile, MediaWorks sales manager Christina Emery spent a couple of hours as a retail assistant at the City Mission's Zest shop.

"I don't ever have time to volunteer but it's always on my to do list," she said.

Sue Westwood spent two hours writing Christmas cards to volunteers. Photo/ Bevan Conley
Sue Westwood spent two hours writing Christmas cards to volunteers. Photo/ Bevan Conley

"I'm on the boards of a couple of not-for-profit associations and you do realise how much volunteers are needed when you're in that position."

Emery's tasks included preparing goods to go out into the shop.

"Now I'm cleaning Thomas [the Tank Engine]. These all need to be cleaned for they can go out on the shelves; anything from Thomas, to plates to cups."

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Others Rickey has roped in to volunteer for a few hours this week include Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall and Whanganui District Health Board chief executive Russell Simpson.

"It's all about raising awareness of what a volunteer does," she said.

"The whole point was daring people of importance to walk in the shoes of a volunteer for a couple of hours.

"They can sell the idea that volunteering can be done by anyone."

Volunteer Whanganui manager Sandra Rickey has seen the number of volunteers in the city swell in recent years. Photo/ Bevan Conley
Volunteer Whanganui manager Sandra Rickey has seen the number of volunteers in the city swell in recent years. Photo/ Bevan Conley

Rickey said volunteer work quite different to paid work.

"A chief executive of a bank would have very little understanding about the community sector.

"What really drives the community sector is volunteers and without them organisations wouldn't survive. It's simple."

Volunteer Whanganui supports 105 organisations and, with 957 volunteers on the books, has the highest per capita volunteer base in the country.

Rickey said volunteers get as much back as they put in and the mutual benefits are now more recognised.

"One of the trends we've had recently is that we've had a lot of Aucklanders (who have moved to Whanganui) volunteering and signing up because they don't know Whanganui yet and they want to meet their community."

Rickey said volunteering brought out the best in people.

"Human beings are social creatures, we're supposed to be around people."

Volunteer Whanganui oversees more than 100 organisations.
Volunteer Whanganui oversees more than 100 organisations.