Volunteer Ireland (the national volunteer development organisation and the support body for local Volunteer Centres in Ireland) states that “it is critical that any reform [to the law affecting clubs, societies and other unincorporated associations] doesn’t make it more difficult to volunteer."

In its submission, Volunteer Ireland said "the [Law Reform] Commission should be aware of the current risks to volunteering and seek to mitigate them rather than exacerbate them”, also observing that “many organisations report that they are finding it difficult to re-engage volunteers who were involved before the pandemic”, with the cost-of-living crisis (among other factors) creating barriers to volunteering. Overall, Volunteer Ireland says "it’s vital that any changes to the law in this regard don’t create more barriers.”

In particular, Volunteer Ireland notes in its submission to the Irish Law Commission that, “voluntary groups already spend a large proportion of their time on fulfilling various administrative requirements for their funders, regulators, and other stakeholders. While volunteers bring a wide range of skills and resources to their groups, administration may not be one of them and it is often hard to find people to take on these tasks.”

“Spending time on administration takes away from the time volunteers could spend on service delivery. It is essential that the reform will not impose extra administrative work as it could very easily be the tipping point for many groups to keep volunteers engaged.”

This is a concern that the New Zealand Amateur Sport Association has repeatedly raised with Government in regard to the recent reform of the Incorporated Societies Act and regulations.

Volunteer Ireland goes on to note that, “creating a legally clearer organisational structure for unincorporated associations should not mean overburdening voluntary groups, as it could pose an unnecessary barrier to volunteering at a time when volunteer recruitment is already very challenging."

"Volunteers should not have to take on additional responsibilities, administrative burdens or liability.”

The New Zealand Amateur Sport Association’s proposed amendments to the existing 2022 Act and 2023 regulations will go some way to alleviating the burdens clearly identified by Volunteer Ireland, as articulated above. We hope that the relevant Ministers and their officials give full consideration to our proposed amendments, early in 2024.

Over 1 million people in Ireland volunteer each year. These individuals are the driving force behind the activities of most unincorporated associations and play a critical role in Irish society, delivering vital services (including for sport) within local communities throughout the country.  The Irish Law Commission is currently contemplating changes to the law governing unincorporated associations, (including community sport organisations).