Volunteering: Part 2
With our Volunteer induction having just happened on Monday 2 October, it felt fitting to post another article on volunteering well.
In eThekwini we have about 3500 registered NPO’s. That is not including all the charities that are not registered as they are going on quite nicely without the paperwork. There is a wide variety of services that are offered in various locations. Choosing an organisation that would bring out your best or benefit from you the most can be quite daunting. But just like you (generally) do not get married on your first date, you should not pick an organisation because it is the first one you heard of. To make the most of your volunteer time do some research before you marry yourself to an organisation. Here are some questions to help guide you:
- What is being done in my community? Most people cannot go off on extended volunteer trips, and when you have to travel an hour to where you are going to give your time, you probably will not last that long. Look local, local to your office so you can pop in on your way to or from work, or even during your lunch hour, or look close to home so that it is just a short trip on a weekend or during your free time.
- Match up with what you want to do. You may have to do some real digging. Not all organisations have web presence, use your networks.
- Prioritise your top 4 and interview them. Make a site visit and ask them questions. You know you, they do not, find out if you are going to be a good fit in their space. Is your heart aligned to their vision? Is there something you can do (within your limited capacity) to help them reach their potential?
- What are the organisations expectations of volunteers? Some organisations are very structured, you submit paperwork, you are inducted, you sign your code of conduct, and you are given a task, you are monitored. Others you can literally could do anything. If you are going to have contact with minors, you are going to be checked on the sexual offenders list and you will be required to submit a police clearance certificate.
- What cultural boundaries am I crossing? Most of us don’t think of our own culture too much. It’s just the way we are; the normal way we do things. Here in Durban, we have a literal melting pot of cultures. Where this question is only often pertinent is in foreign volunteering, here is Durban it is relevant all the time! Be mindful that not all people you will volunteer with will react the same way you do when you work together.
- Does the organisation have the capacity to handle a volunteer? It may seem a strange question, but volunteers take a lot of time and manpower to prepare for. Some NPO’s can cope with volunteers and others cannot. If you feel like you going to the organisation is a burden on them, it probably is. Respect that and move on to another organisation who has the capacity to host you. Organisations cope on minimal budget and are stretched to capacity on their human resource if you are taking someone away from their usual job or if you do not do your work to the exact standard that is required you are wasting someone’s time and sometimes the organisation’s resources.
The more knowledge you have of the organisations in your area the more you are able to help and the more likely your volunteering experience is going to add value to the community and be enjoyable for you. If you would like information on some organisations in your area, please ask us and ask one of the organisations in your area as they generally know who else is operating nearby. Enjoy your time giving back to making Durban all it was meant to be!
We have another volunteer induction happening on 13 November. If you would like to hear about some organisations that you would be able to serve in, in eThekwini, this will be your last chance this year! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.