LandSAR NZ is launching an online community hub called Friends of Search and Rescue (FOSAR).
The forum will coincide with a dedicated donor programme that will allow supporters to commit to a recurring sponsorship and allow LandSAR to recognise their volunteers and supporters through stories, newsletters and social media.
LandSAR chief executive Carl McOnie said FOSAR will encourage people to engage with the charity, and create interest to other LandSAR roles.
“It’s not just about putting gear on and going into the bush to find people,” he said. “For every one hour of operations, there are five hours of training and administration to make that happen.
“We rely heavily on volunteer goodwill. Volunteers are the true workforce, and we end up putting a lot of burden on them,” McOnie said.
“We need more help, and we need to take some of their burden through more staffing and funding.”
LandSAR has the lowest volunteer to staff ratio in the New Zealand search and rescue sector, with just 14 staff for its 3432 volunteers. Running the charity isn’t cheap, for example, it can cost up to $3500 to kit out a volunteer with gear.
“One million dollars a year comes from central government, and every other dollar is fundraised,” McOnie said.
For the 15 months ending June 2019, LandSAR’s operating costs exceeded $4.4million.
Friends of Search and Rescue is expected to launch this December.