Changing the world doesn’t have to be a chore. You can volunteer your time and effort without feeling drained at the end of the experience. But there are some things you need to know before you decide to volunteer. Rather than walking into a situation blind, do your due diligence and find out about what volunteering is like.
Spend some time researching issues such as “What is malnutrition?” to prepare yourself for the troubling situations you could see. Below is what you need to know before you decide to volunteer to make your experience a good one.
What do you want to get out of it?
When you decide that you want to volunteer, the first thing you need to know is what you want to get out of the experience. Now, this might seem counterintuitive (after all, isn’t volunteering all about giving?), but it is important to know what your end goal is by becoming a volunteer.
Perhaps you want to learn more about a cause and connect with people, or maybe you want to get some hands-on experience in a new field. Or maybe you are interested in solving a major issue in a community. Different motivations will push you into different organisations and will set you down the right path, depending on what you want to get out of your volunteering experience.
What skills do you have to offer?
Volunteering is an exciting experience which is made even better by knowing that you have used your skills to help others. If you enjoy outdoor work or have fantastic building skills, you could opt to help build houses for the poor or, if you enjoy working with people, take on a fundraising position at your local charity.
Positions that suit your skills will make volunteering fun and enriching, allowing you to build on the ones you have and pick up new skills along the way. Many positions require volunteers to have previous experience, such as someone who has worked in the IT industry helping to build a new website or update software for a charity. The best way to find a volunteer programme that fits you is to look at the skills you already have.
How much time and energy can you commit?
Once you have found the perfect programme for you, you will need to carefully look at how much time and energy you can commit to it. Most volunteer programmes require you to commit to at least six months, especially if you will be travelling overseas for the programme.
There is often an initial rush of excitement when we apply to be a volunteer, but you have to be able to commit to such a venture. Going all in with an assignment that lasts for three months longer than you are free for will be difficult to get out of, so be sure to check your schedule carefully before signing up. If you are unable to commit for too long, then start small by donating money and move up from there.
Preparation is key
Once you know exactly what you want to get out of the volunteer programme, you will need to prepare. Do this by conducting research online, such as “What is malnutrition?” or “What is the Rohingya crisis?” and be sure to take note of all the documents you will need for travelling to and from the programme.
Volunteering is not a decision to be taken lightly. You should spend time preparing mentally and physically. You will need to be vaccinated before travelling to any countries that have malaria or other diseases, and some of these vaccinations need to take place at least one month before you leave. Preparing beforehand will ensure that there are no last-minute issues that could hinder your trip.
Organisations will have questions for you
Once you understand the answer to the question “What is malnutrition?” and want to volunteer to help this cause, you will need to take into account that volunteer organisations will have questions for you to answer, too.
You will need to go in for an interview for the organisation to fully understand why you want to volunteer for them. You will need to describe your qualifications and your background just as you would at an interview for a paying job. This is so that they can vet anyone who wants to work for them and ensure they choose only the best people for the job.
Reap the benefits of volunteering
Volunteering has many benefits for both you as the volunteer, and for the people you are helping with your efforts. However, before you go off and sign up to any programme, you will need to have a few things in mind.
This includes knowing what you want to get out of the experience, what skills you can offer, how much time you can commit and what you need for the programme in terms of required documents. Once you have all of this in place, you will be prepared for the life-changing experience of volunteering.