Module 2

POSSIBILITIES OF VOLUNTEERING

POSSIBILITIES OF VOLUNTEERING AND TYPES OF VOLUNTEERING WORK

It is well-known that organizations that involve volunteers in their activities become successful. Volunteers play a key-role in the activities and services provided by any organization or institution, and involving volunteers from different categories, including migrants, ensures a wider reach within the community.

This module provides information on the types of volunteering work, the benefits of volunteer involvement, and the possibilities of volunteering. 

Our aim is to help reinforce this concept and provide useful references.

  • To identify what volunteers, volunteering and volunteer providers are;
  • To emphasize the main steps of preparing an organization for volunteering involvement, and the benefits for the providers;
  • To familiarize the readers concerning the types and possibilities of volunteering.

Approximate reading time for the module, without taking into account suggested resources and further reading, is about 2 hours.

The learners don’t need to already have particular knowledge or skills. The learners will need a computer with an internet connection to look at suggested resources. 

It is advisable that the learners consult the reference material and thus deepen the information provided.

Content

Volunteering is an important part of a thriving civil society, contributing to its development and its prosperity. The access to volunteering opportunities should represent a right, not a privilege. Everyone has the right to volunteer anywhere in the world and in order to foster a culture of participation, personal and responsible development, volunteers need to be given the access to as well as the encouragement to engage in volunteering activities.

Definition of a volunteer

A volunteer is a person who carries out activities benefiting society, by free will. These activities are undertaken for a nonprofit cause, benefiting the personal development of the volunteer, who commits their time and energy for the general good without financial reward.

Definition of volunteering activity

Volunteering represents the activity that is undertaken for a non-profit cause and does not replace paid staff. The activity can be done within the framework of a volunteering provider or through a volunteer’s own initiative.

Definition of volunteering providers

Volunteering providers are non–profit organizations and groups that are independent and self- governing as well as other non–profit entities, such as public authorities. They are active in the public arena and their activity must be aimed, at least in part, at contributing to the public’s good.

The European Charter on the Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers presents the rights and responsibilities of the volunteers, but also those of the providers.

Volunteers play a key-role in the activities and services provided by any organization or institution, and the key to success in attracting and retaining the right volunteers is to prepare the organization for the involvement of volunteers. This process can prevent serious problems from appearing during the volunteering programs. Among these, we can mention: uncertainty, tasks not performed correctly and on time, conflicting relationships between volunteers and the employees of the organization. Volunteers need to be appreciated, to be successful in their work, to work in a pleasant environment, and these, most of the time, do not happen naturally.

Preparing the organization for volunteer involvement can be a long and difficult process, involving changes in the organization's documents and in the organizational culture. The main steps of this process can include:

  • declaring volunteering as a value of the organization;
  • analysis of the organization's needs regarding the involvement of volunteers;
  • elaboration of a set of policies/ procedures;
  • appointment of a volunteer coordinator;
  • drafting the necessary documents;
  • allocating a budget for the involvement of volunteers.

In addition, volunteers need to understand their role and place in the organization, both in terms of the activities they are going to carry out and in relation to the organization's mission. People volunteer for a cause and not for an organization itself. Therefore, they need to understand the connection between the work they do and the cause of the organization.

Volunteering providers should know that there are numerous advantages of the programmes, besides the long and difficult process of preparing an organization for the involvement of volunteers, and the following can be mentioned:

  • Diversity, because volunteers may come from different backgrounds (students, retirees, from different social categories, of different ethnicities or cultures), leading to diverse visions, more ideas that can increase the quality of services;
  • Various and necessary skills, because, in general, volunteers are recruited precisely for concrete skills such as: translator, designer, etc.;
  • Easier access to the community, because volunteers come from different social backgrounds;
  • Volunteers can become organizations’ future employees.

We cannot neglect the economic value of volunteering. In some European countries the economic contribution of volunteering has been collected and estimated at about 5% of domestic production. With all the material and intangible aspects, volunteering can be seen as an important agent in the development of society.

There are two types of volunteering, and both of them have different status:

  • Volunteers that involve in various organizations’ activities;
  • Volunteers active in emergency services for whom the regulations are stricter - in proportion to the higher risks - and the level of professionalism required is high.

If at the first one we refer to a general acceptance of volunteering, which may involve any socio-professional category, in the case of the second one the focus is on a particular regulated specific field, in which volunteers need a higher training to carry out activities, as a sine-qua-non condition.

There are several areas of the volunteer involvement, and below we can observe the most important and accessible opportunities at European level:

  • Social work. The field of social work is covered by a variety of associations that dedicate their resources and time in order to improve people's lives, both by providing services and by promoting ideas and notions designed to help minority or disadvantaged sections of the population. Volunteers can be involved in offering services such as:
  • Counseling and information services on various topics;
  • Recreational activities, art workshops, carrying on leisure activities for institutionalized children or for the elderly, abused women, children from rural areas or poor neighborhoods;
  • Qualification/ requalification courses, homework help and meditations for children with various problems, foreign language courses;
  • Organizing entertainment moments for children and elderly living in the community centres;
  • Recording audio materials for the visually impaired;
  • Street information campaigns and awareness of the general public on various social issues;
  • Lessons for learning life skills (cooking, writing a CV, managing one's own finances, etc.) intended for the institutionalized children and young adults;
  • Preparation and distribution of packages for the beneficiaries of the organization (e.g.: food, clothing, etc.).

 

  1. Environment and animal protection. This area includes promotion campaigns and activities that focus on: conservation and control of pollution, conservation and protection of natural resources, protection and care of animals, and the creation, maintenance and protection of national parks. Here are some of the services that volunteers can provide in this area:
  • Sanitation of some parks, playgrounds or leisure areas, natural parks, and tourist awareness;
  • Actions for planting seedlings, arranging green spaces in cities, reforestation actions, rehabilitation of areas affected by calamities;
  • Actions of sterilization of community animals, animal feeding, food collections;
  • Campaigns to promote recycling and selective collection or to promote animals’ rights, presentations in schools, collections of various recyclable materials;
  • Promotion of organic products or ecological tourism;
  • Organizing events - photo or animal exhibitions, watching movies on eco themes, public presentations;
  • Manufacturing workshops for various objects from recycled materials, trade fairs for reducing consumerism.

 

  1. Education and research. This field refers to those non-governmental organizations that have activities aimed at: preschool education, primary and secondary education, high-school education, university and postgraduate education, vocational and technical schools, continuing education (for adults), alternative education, scientific research, research in social sciences, social policies, medical research, etc. Here are some of the services that volunteers can provide in this area:
  • Promoting the chances of children with special abilities, award events for children or people with special achievements;
  • Organizing alternative educational activities for students in mainstream education - literature, astronomy, ecology clubs, debate and oratory clubs, intercultural knowledge, organizing thematic camps, etc.;
  • Anti-drug/ alcohol education;
  • Trainings concerning skills of self-presentation, leadership, entrepreneurship;
  • Career guidance;
  • Computer lessons (for children with disabilities, institutionalized children, etc., for people in rural areas or for the elderly);
  • Organizing various competitions on school, sports or extracurricular topics.

 

  1. Art and culture, sport and recreation. This category consists of associations and foundations that have the field of activity related to: visual arts, architecture, crafts, performing arts, history, literature, museums, zoos and aquariums, organizations and foundations that organize sporting events, leisure, or tourism. Here are some of the services that volunteers can provide in this area:
  • Guide in different museums, historical objectives or thematic exhibitions;
  • Documentation in order to make specific publications;
  • Campaigns to promote the institution and services within the community;
  • Promoting reading, book collections, public reading sessions;
  • Public relations activity during the reception;
  • Organizing events - art shows, movie or music and dance festivals, exhibitions, creative camps, etc.

 

  1. Health. Areas of activity included in this category are: hospital treatment, care, rehabilitation, mental health, crisis interventions, services for the chronically ill, hygiene and public health, campaigns and activities to inform the population on topics such as hygiene, prevention or methods of accessing the services offered, etc.

 

  1. Community and social development, civic activism. This area includes: community/ local development activities and projects, those in the field of economic development and infrastructure, social development projects, those that focus on diminishing social problems, housing projects, but also training activities and assistance in looking and finding jobs.

 

  1. Human rights. It is a vast field and includes associations and foundations that work in the field of individual rights or civil rights, civic education, which actively encourages public participation. Also included are organizations that focus on defending and promoting ethnic solidarity and cultural tradition, minorities, those that deal with legal assistance and services, public security, crime prevention or rehabilitation / reintegration of criminals in society. Victim support and consumer protection are other examples of activities in this area.

 

  1. Humanitarian and /or philanthropic aid. Funding foundations are a part of this category, as well as those that have activities and projects that support and promote volunteering, but also those that mediate the attraction of funds. Here are some of the services that volunteers can provide in this area:
  • Collecting signatures or sending petitions to authorities in support of initiatives;
  • Promoting democratic principles and human rights in the community;
  • Assistance in accessing legislation and various facilities;
  • Promoting philanthropy by organizing charity fairs, etc.;
  • Promoting blood donation;
  • Informal mobilization networks in emergency situations;
  • First aid courses;
  • Stimulating active citizenship through various means.

 

  1. Public administration. Here are some of the services that volunteers can provide in this area:
  • Actions for beautifying the city, arranging green corners, planting flowers or distributing seeds and seedlings;
  • Signaling the tourist objectives in the city;
  • Sanitation of neighborhoods, cleaning the walls of buildings;
  • Street art;
  • Alternative ways of spending free time in the city.

 

  1. International cooperation. Here are some of the services that volunteers can provide in this area:
  • Promoting peace and universal human rights;
  • Fundraising and assistance for assistance in developing countries;
  • Actions to raise awareness and combat trafficking of human beings;
  • Debates on the effects of globalization;

 

If the volunteers are not interested and attracted to work directly with people or the beneficiaries of an organization, they can always get involved in office/ administrative activities, taking part in one of the following activities:

  • Realizing promotional materials for various causes;
  • PR services for various causes and NGOs;
  • Conducting surveys, research or data processing;
  • IT networking and support, creation of web pages, databases or intranet systems, equipment maintenance;
  • Translations, photocopying, word processing, etc.;
  • Public relations activity during the reception;
  • Organizing events, etc.

In this module, we provide some information about what volunteering is and what are the benefits of voluntary involvement, as well as giving an overview of the main areas of involvement of volunteers in Romania, and what one person can do in each of them. But mainly it is about possibilities of volunteering and types of volunteering work.

By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • Build a definition of volunteering;
  • Identify the steps of preparing an organization for volunteering involvement;
  • Emphasize the main aspects of an efficient volunteering programme;
  • Familiarize with different types of volunteering and opportunities around Europe.

Self-assessment

  • Jennifer Mize Smith, Michael W. Kramer (2014), Case Studies of Nonprofit Organizations and Volunteers, Peter Lang, New York
  • Nancy Sakaduski (2013), Managing volunteers: How to Maximize Your Most Valuable Resource, ABC-CLIO LLC Publishing, California
  • Robert J. Rosenthal (2015), Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, John Wiley & Sons Inc, New Jersey
  • Tracy D. Connors (2012), Volunteering Management Book, John Wiley & Sons Inc, New Jersey
  • Volunteering Charter. European Charter on the rights on responsibilities of volunteers - https://ec.europa.eu/citizenship/pdf/volunteering_charter_en.pdf
  • Provobis (2003), Pregătirea organizației pentru implicarea voluntarilor (engl. Preparing the organization for volunteers involvement) - http://www.provobis.ro/assets/uploads/2013/01/1Pregatirea-organizatiei-pentru-implicarea-voluntarilor.pdf
  • ProVol, Promovăm voluntariatul – Harta voluntariatului în județul Suceava (engl. Volunteering promoters – The map of volunteering in Suceava County) – printed by ACDC Romania Association