Departing from your hometown to embark on a volunteer journey in a foreign country can be an exhilarating, yet daunting experience. Extensive planning should go into any volunteer opportunity to ensure that it is precisely what you want and a purpose you are capable of wholeheartedly committing to. Keep these five points in mind while planning your philanthropic endeavor.
Be mindful of the length of time that you are able and willing to contribute to a cause. Inquire about the volunteer service schedule to be aware of the dates of the trip. International organizations recommend an average of 3-4 weeks to account for travel and adjustments upon arrival for substantial missions. If your schedule restricts you to a few days or a week, search locally for volunteer positions. Remaining local doesn’t take away from your selflessness.
Value of Causes
Evaluate what service causes are significant to you. Consider these questions:
- What can you contribute to the program?
- What do you hope to gain from your involvement?
- How do you hope to impact the target community?
If the daily tasks and organizational purpose are not what you emotionally relate to, there’s a chance your motivational drive will take a negative shift. You should have a level of passion towards the cause to help you push through the busy days and discomfort of culture change.
Local Community Involvement
The reputability of a volunteer effort does not lie solely in the perception of its volunteer participants. An important indicator of the social respectability of a volunteer group is reflected in the community involvement. If members of the community come forward and want to be an active contributors to the change effort, you’ve got the green light. But venture away from organizations that want to make a difference that doesn’t make a difference to the inhabitants of the area. Practice sustainable voluntourism. Indulge on the chance to be an expat, but the services should provide first hand experiences and benefits for the permanent residents.
Thorough Preparation Materials
A reliable volunteer organization does not shy away from the details. Continue in your application process if the recruitment board willingly supplies ample amounts of information on what the position requires. This includes, but is not limited to, characteristics of the host community where you’ll be residing and assisting, the overall goals of the service trip, and itineraries of the daily tasks you’ll be expected to accomplish. At this time you should be notified of all components that are required for travel as well, such as documentations and vaccinations.
Actively look for reviews from prior participants. Seek comments about the financial allocations, guidance of directors, and involvement of the community. A majority of volunteer groups require you to financially support yourself during travel as company funds are utilized to purchase project supplies. Validate that the past trips have addressed issues that matter to the community and that directors behave in ethical, respectful manners.
Don’t fear being too harsh in your validation of a cause. Tried and true philanthropic organizations are prepared for a wide range of questions and concerns. You should be confident in your choice and contribution.
If you’re branching out on your first philanthropist trip, check out tips that we have for new philanthropists.