Spot the responsible volunteer organisation: Trip Preparation
It is important to book your placement with a responsible volunteer organisation when planning your volunteer experience abroad. A responsible volunteer organisation ensures that you are safe and secure during your placement. But they also make sure that your time and efforts have the greatest, most sustainable impact possible. This means that volunteering is not (just) about your experience, but also considers the benefits to the local partner organisation and the community they serve.
How to spot a responsible volunteer organisation
You can do a few things beforehand to make sure you are choosing the best sustainable volunteer abroad opportunity. First you need to understand whether your agency of choice is a responsible volunteer organisation. The first test is the application process. It will already tell you if the placement is skills based. It is also important to check whether the partner organisation is involved in the matching process to ensure skills are best matched to needs. The next step is trip preparation. Here are three things you need to watch out for to spot a responsible volunteer organisation:
A responsible volunteer organisation provides you with all necessary information after you and the partner have agreed that the skilled volunteer placement is the right fit. The volunteer organisation must support you in the process, even though it is your responsibility to make sure all travel arrangements are made. They should provide the following details:
- Information regarding flights and visa
- Logistics upon arrival, such as airport pick-up
- Accommodation details
- Information about the placement location
- Advice about travel money and expenses
They also need to be able to tell you exactly how they use your placement fees. Transparency is key. Also, pay attention to whether your questions and enquiries are dealt with and answered straight away. Responsive communication is important, especially when you are in India. This is a good test.
Information about your placement
A responsible volunteer organisation must provide you with a detailed description of your placement. This should include a job description and introduction to the partner organisation. The following questions need to be answered:
- What concrete tasks are you going to perform?
- When and how long are you working for?
- What training is needed and will be provided?
- Who are you going to be working with?
- Are meals provided?
- Where exactly are you based?
- How do you get to and from your accommodation to work?
The above information should be available BEFORE you sign a contract. Make sure you are not signing anything that wasn’t agreed upon. A responsible volunteer organisation gives you the chance to make a choice based on the information above.
Make sure that it is not just you and the volunteer organisation involved when signing a contract. A responsible volunteer organisation includes the partner organisation along the way and throughout each step of the process. You should therefore sign a contract with the agency, as well as with the local partner.
Skilled Impact has developed responsible practices to ensure that all information is provided and our partners are involved at each step of the process. If there are any questions we haven’t answered for you, drop us an email at email@example.com and we’ll get back to you straight away.