BEST PRACTICE FOR VOLUNTEERS
Understand the legality of volunteering your time in the country
Every country has its own labour laws which should be adhered to. In some cases, it might not be possible to even volunteer for an organisation without the right visa/paperwork. Please check to see whether the organisation you volunteer for is able to provide you with the correct documentation if needed. If you volunteer/share your time and expertise without the proper visa, you do so at your own risk.
Many organisations are low on resources and time
Even though you might feel you are being of benefit by volunteering and offering your sought after skills to a good cause, please take into account that the organisation you are helping most likely has limited resources and staff are busy ensuring that their projects are running smoothly. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you are concise and time efficient. Prepare as much as you can in advance and take initiative to ensure that you do not take up too much of the organisations time.
Respect the local culture
It can be difficult volunteering in a new environment, especially when the culture is different to yours. Reading up on local customs before you start offering your skills to an organisation is a great way to avoid any cultural mishaps. The general rule of thumb would be to dress appropriately/modestly, communicate in a calm manner and be patient. You’ll gradually see what the locals do, so its best to learn from them.
Keep confidentiality in mind
Some organisations work with sensitive topics which need to be handled with great respect. Before you start posting about or taking photos of the office, staff and beneficiaries of the organisation, please make sure you get permission from managerial staff in advance. Confidentially is key, and by posting an unapproved photo on social media, you could not only be jeopardising the organisation’s various protection policies but also their reputation.
BEST PRACTICE FOR ORGANISATIONS
Be clear in what you want
When you have an individual who is willing to volunteer their time for you, it’s of utmost importance that you have a clear idea of the skills and/or work you are wanting to gain from them. For example, being able to give them precise details of what you want achieved by having a staff meeting on desired outcomes before they start will make the whole process easier for both parties and will enable the relationship to run smoothly.
Some people might not be staying in the area for a long period of time, therefore communicating with them in a timely and efficient manner will ensure that by the time you have worked out the working relationship, they aren’t about to leave for another location. It’s probably best to have a good understanding of how long the individual plans to stay in the local area before receiving their help.
Try and learn their skills
Whether someone is helping you with your WordPress site or newsletter, you might want a member of staff to sit with them whilst they do it so they can learn the specific skills so that, in the future, your organisation is able to do these things by itself without the need of external help. This further builds the capacity of your organisation and, although you might not become proficient straight away, is a great opportunity to learn something new.
Explain the issues that your organisation tackles
Not only is this a chance to gain help from skilled and creative people, it’s also a great opportunity to advocate your work and to create a greater understanding of local issues to people who might not already be aware of them. By showcasing your organisation’s mission and passion, you could be educating an individual who will be meeting other people in the future with whom they might share details about your important work.