With the myriad of volunteer opportunities that exist, select the one that is in-line with your purpose, objectives, skills, and will have the appropriate time commitment allotment. Evaluate the right fit will allow you to respond to the opportunity as a professional contributor. Where to from here?
Part of the Please don’t Volunteer – 9 part series
There are a lot of ways to research what is available. Start with your government volunteer agency, if one is available, or search Volunteer Match http://www.volunteermatch.org/. Join your local Rotary Club, connect with non-profits in a country of choice, become active in your industry association, or just Google “volunteer opportunities in (name a country or demographic)”.
As a Professional Contributor,
evaluate if the volunteer opportunity is the right fit for you.
- Is it a conscious organization?
- What is the mission and vision of the organization?
- What role do I want to play in the organization?
- Solicit references
- Get first-hand experience
Let’s start with ….
Is it a conscious organization?
I have recently discovered a charity, similar to the YouMeWe Foundation fund, which also provides educational scholarships to women in Africa. They are conducting a unique fundraising experience in Uganda. Eventually, I too will be doing a similar initiative. However, it won’t be within the next 12 months. I’m considering collaborating with this charity since our mission is similar – to educate girls in Africa.
To consciously contribute, some information is required:
- What are the selection criteria for scholarships? (Promoting leaders who have the desire to fill social gaps is well-aligned with my mission.)
- What are the expectations of the individual who receives a scholarship? (This one is critical, as I do believe firmly in the value of reciprocity, and paying-it-forward. This induces pride and responsibility.)
- What is the administrative cost? Even more importantly, what is the cost to create social impact? For example, once this individual receives an education, what are their goals? What impact will they have on society? How do you vet individuals to meet that objective?
- Where do the girls receive their education – in the West, or locally? (Although there is value in attending school in the West, there is also a strong case for obtaining it at home. Firstly, Universities have improved substantially in Africa. Secondly, if educated internationally, there is a chance of not returning home. Thirdly, by providing a scholarship to the best of the best and bringing them to the West, there will be little motivation to improve universities locally, not to mention promoting ‘brain-drain’ in the universities. Everyone becomes impacted if the minds that can cultivate higher dialogue are not in the room.)
- Who is the administrator and contact on the ground? Their experience, education, and cultural background? (Having internationals parachute in providing scholarships perpetuates the perception that the help comes from afar, rather than from within.)
- How many girls have you already place through school? What are they doing with their education? What impact are they making on society?
To decide where you want to consciously contribution, ask or research answers to the following questions. #YouMeWeMovement #MyContributionCounts Click To Tweet
Which is the best Volunteer Opportunity for you?
To decide where you want to consciously contribution, research the answers to the following questions.
- What is the reputation of the organization?
- What was the catalyst for starting this initiative?
- What is the purpose, vision, and mission of the organization?
- What are the organization’s values?
- How do they strategically ensure those values are followed?
- Does the community support this initiative? How? Are the organization’s goals and objectives locally driven?
- How do the goods or services provided affect the intended beneficiaries?
- How many people have been positively impacted?
- Does the initiative have unforeseen consequences to a community stakeholder? What is it? Why does it exist?
- Is this something that a local person could implement? Is it possible that I’m taking a local job?
- Who are the other volunteers? Local? International?
- Is the organization’s work sustainable? How?
- How do they assess your impact? How do they measure its success?
- Do they collaborate with any other profit/non-profit/government agencies?
- How often do they reassess the organization strategic plan?
- What are their expectations of a volunteer’s time and ability?
- What kind of experience/skills does the programme/role require?
- What are some of the challenges that you can expect?
- What support does the programme have–training? On the ground support?
- What is your volunteer retention rate?
- How will the tasks I’m responsible for impact on the organization and the surrounding community?
When you are considering if an initiative is conscious, I recommend you assessing two fundamental areas:
- One, what is the impact on the beneficiaries – is it creating dependency or opportunity. In the case of the environment, is it helping or hurting?
The answer to this question can take a little more research, and not be as apparent upfront, as indicated in my example. You may believe contributing to an organization that provides scholarships for students to go to the West is a worthwhile investment since it will invest in leaders to change a continent. However, further research exposes that it may actually cripple that very objective.
- Is the initiative sustainable? Are there actions in place to create a sustainable contribution? Or is the organization open to become sustainable? Complete donor dependency can lead to vulnerability and limit the execution of the vision.
Professional contributors do take the time to consider their impact. They realize that personal fulfilment may motivate them to contribute to an association or community group, but the deep meaning comes from ensuring what you are contributing has a long-term positive effect on society.
Until next time, make your contribution count. #MyContributionCounts #YouMeWeMovement
- What do I know about the organization I would like to contribute to?
- What are beneficiaries saying about the organization?
- What sustainable practices are employed?
Until next time, make your contributions count. #YouMeWeMovement #MyContributionCounts
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Suzanne F. Stevens, Conscious-Contributor™ Cultivator
Certified Speaking Professional, (CSP)
Social entrepreneur |Professional Speaker | Host | Author | Philanthropist
Book launch coming soon: YouMeWe: lead tomorrow’s legacy today
2017 National President: Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS)
Awards: TIAW World of Difference Recipient for women economic empowering
Accreditation: Suzanne is one of 65 Certified Speaking Professionals (CSP) in Canada and is in the exclusive 15% of speakers who have this designation internationally.