3 questions to help you find the best skilled volunteering opportunity
Not all volunteering opportunities are created equal. Some focus on the travel-related aspect and are therefore called voluntourism. Others focus on the sustainability-related aspect. They fall within the realm of what could be termed ‘sustainable volunteering’.
If you have decided to dedicate your time and resources towards sustainable volunteering, there are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself. The answers can guide you towards the best sustainable volunteer-abroad opportunity for you.
How much time do I have?
You first need to decide when, and how long you would like to volunteer for. That will already limit your search significantly and make it more targeted. Specific volunteer programs often only run at specific times throughout the year.
Sustainable volunteer placements usually span a longer time period. It often takes one or two weeks to acclimatise to the new environment, find your feet and get comfortable in your volunteer work. Once you’ve mastered the initial challenges that come with stepping out of your comfort zone, you’ll be able to really enjoy your new surroundings and make the most of it.
It’s similar when it comes to the benefits to the partner organisation. Often one or two weeks only leave enough time to have an introduction and scratch the surface of a challenge. Skillshare and learning take time. Sometimes partner organisations do request a volunteer for only 2 weeks, and then you can trust it is in their best interest. But overall, time is an essential factor for making a real, long term impact. The more time you have, the greater the impact you can make.
What kind of work do I want to do and what skills can I offer?
Many volunteer placements do not require specific qualifications or skills. While it is still a great way to get involved and give back, it is skill based volunteering that makes the most impact – and is therefore the most sustainable.
To find a volunteer placement where you are truly needed and can bring great value to a local initiative, you can start by noting down your skills.
- What is your professional experience?
- What thematic knowledge have you gained at university?
- What kind of work experience have you gathered so far?
- What skills and practical experience have you gained from previous volunteering placements?
Then combine your skills with your passion.
- Is there a global/local issue you really want to help to solve?
- Which sustainable development goal sparks your passion?
- Which challenges in India are you most interested in?
- Where do you think your skills can really make a difference?
Answering these questions should give you a good idea of what kind of sustainable volunteering abroad placement you are looking for.
Which volunteer organisation should I choose?
Once you have answered the first two questions, you can start your search. And that is usually the tricky part. There is an array of different volunteer organisations out there that offer incredible-sounding opportunities. How do you separate the good from the bad?
It is not easy to tell which organisation practises sustainable volunteering. But there are a couple of things you can look into to make sure your time and effort pay off, and you have a successful and safe volunteering experience.
The sustainability of your volunteering experiences is the top of our priority list. Contact us so we can help you find the best placement for you.