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8 Basic things you should consider before volunteering

1.- Decide on what kind of volunteering suits you.

One can volunteer in many ways. For instance, you can volunteer in your local community; facilitate operations in an NGO with your knowledge at the comfort of your desk through E-Volunteering; Pro-Bono Volunteering; or going out of your comfort zone into volunteering abroad. It is highly advised that one conducts a proper research on the volunteer program they want to commit to.

2.- What sort of input is required from the volunteer?

Volunteering is a wholehearted venture it calls one to be proactive. Improvise, introduce, improve, go an extra mile in making an impact all through - A lack of this results to disinterest in a short span of time. It is therefore best advice to have an idea of what kind of input will keep you recharged.

3.- How much time are you able and willing to commit?

From experience, some volunteers get excited at the beginning but fades over with time, forfeiting the initial agreement with the host. For this reason, nearly all volunteer programs indicate minimum and maximum time one can commit, honor your word.

4.- Carefully assess and select your preferred volunteer location.

A number of factors could drive your decision to volunteer at specific locations. Factors may be:

  • Interest in learning a new language.

  • Interest in learning and mingling with different cultural dissects.

  • Security & health concerns such us: political stability, crime level, adverse weather conditions, etc... For instance, cold conditions would be a hazard for asthmatic fellows...

  • Ensure you have a health and travel cover insurance if you must volunteer in such places.

5.- Run a background check on volunteer organizations.

There is an overwhelmingly large number of volunteering agencies around the globe. As a fact, some have been highlighted as scams or running illegal operations, lack of registration within the legal frameworks and so on.

For volunteer abroad programs, you could get in touch with the destination’s Consulates in your home country for assistance with background checking, cost of living, where to find precincts, hospitals, banks and other facilities/institutions.

6.- Financial ability.

In any kind of situation we find ourselves in, money is a key factor to be considered. It is always highly recommend for one to carry along some savings for personal use and or emergencies in a foreign land. Going with a low cost volunteering program can save you some money as well but regardless of provision of accommodation and food, some personal effects are often not covered by the institution/organization. Conducting a fundraising at home before you leave your country/ town of residence could also come in handy.

7.- Create a volunteer action plan.

Following your volunteer placement, a volunteer with a vision and purpose will get down to devising a work-plan. Work plans are a sure guide to gauging yourself- are you on the right track? Are you making some impact? What are the challenges? How can these challenges be turned into opportunities? Are you within your timeframe? Etcetera etcetera. Flexibility and an open mind are the greatest attributes that would accompany an action plan, be ready to learn and be ready to teach others.

8.- Back home material.

Lastly, carry along some material that would help in tuition or explaining concepts to the great people you meet ahead. These could be cultural artifacts, books, photos, manuals or even load some music or your gadget if you are going to a locale with electricity for recharge. In case you are to go abroad, learning basic conversational language will enable you to settle in fast and blend in well, you get to create a good first impression to the new family you meet.

‘No one has everything but everyone has something“. You have something to offer so go and be an ambassador of positive change and development.

Good Luck!

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