What has happened in the 25 years or so since purchase-of-service contracting was introduced for government funding of voluntary organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand? This article provides a brief commentary on the various iterations of public policy on funding over that time and the impact on voluntary organisations. Just when efforts to ameliorate the extreme edges of ‘contracting’, undergirded by Agency Theory, seemed possible, governments have changed but policies less so. Despite significant increased funding, the period ends with voluntary organisations (especially those dependent on government funding) possibly at their most vulnerable and insecure, and the wider role of the voluntary sector in supporting social capital and strong communities less appreciated (if not actively undermined). The need for the sector to assertively rediscover its intrinsic value and the unique role it can play in society is perhaps greater now than ever before. And there are promising signs this is possible – especially when needed most.