The ways in which the region's volunteers can help Bay of Plenty Regional Council achieve its council outcomes are to be investigated early next year.
Following a number of submissions on the topic to its Annual Plan and Ten Year Plan processes, councillors recently agreed to look at further ways it could work with the voluntary sector to make a difference in the region.
Regional Council General Manager Strategy Fiona McTavish said that Council already works with volunteers in a number of areas, from Coast Care and Estuary Care groups to Harbour Wardens to supporting projects through its Environmental Enhancement Fund. The focus of this next piece of work is about looking at additional areas where we can further benefit from working with external voluntary groups and organisations, including ways we can encourage more of this collaborative work.
Ms McTavish said Council regularly receives a wide range of requests to fund external projects through its Ten Year Plan and Annual Plan submission processes, and in April this year a framework was approved that prioritises the external, non-infrastructure funding requests.
"This framework helps us to identify the requests that best achieve Council's strategic objectives while having a low impact on rates."
Ms McTavish said the focus is on acknowledging and supporting voluntary organisations that enlist and coordinate individual volunteers, aligning our work where appropriate and linking voluntary organisations with suitable projects. We will continue to direct individual volunteers to our existing programmes.
"Not only will this work help us to identify ways to incentivise this collaboration, further build relationships and share and manage, it will help us recognise how we can best work with the community to achieve our goals."
Ms McTavish said the investigations would involve speaking to Councillors, staff and a number of the region's voluntary organisations to gain information about how the council can further support, utilise and incentivise the voluntary sector towards contributing to the delivery of council outcomes.
The report is expected to be presented to the April Strategic Policy and Planning Committee meeting.