Our initial work in Uttarakhand on Flood relief has come to an end. Now what is left is construction of a house that we promised in a village.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed to our relief work in Uttarakhand. A report on the work that iVolunteer did can be found here. Uttarakhand Flood Relief Initiative – iVolunteer and Himjoli
Interacting with young minds can not only be energizing but instills a sense of responsibility. What you say and do can influence them greatly. This is something that my colleague and me experienced when we had college students from a nearby university at our office. They were required to complete their 25 hours of internship with us. They were just straight out of high school and in their first year of college education. One of the students who interned with us has shared a blog on her experiences. Sharing her thoughts with you…
I am Yasmin Naaz. I am pursuing BBA from Christ University, Bangalore. I love reading books, listening to music and enjoy the beauty of the nature. I like helping others so when the opportunity of volunteering came up I just could not let it pass. We were required to spend 25 hours with an NGO as a volunteer for our Social Responsibility Project.
Volunteering is about serving others and giving whatever you can without expecting in return, wholeheartedly. I and my friends chose the NGO – iVolunteer, for our Social Responsibility Project. We were intrigued by the name of the NGO; moreover we saw good feed-backs from people who volunteered there. The fact that it was nearby was an advantage for all of us.
iVolunteer is an organization which helps in promoting volunteering and encourages the volunteers. It renders its services to other NGOs by providing the volunteers they need.
None of us had a clear idea about volunteering and how a NGO which helps promoting volunteering works, but we decided to give it a shot. We were nervous about what would we have to do or if at all we would be able to do the tasks, but in the end it was worth it.
On our first day, we were asked to search stories for children on moral values like humility, honesty, service, dedication etc. Though the task seems small but it revoked forgotten memories of our own childhood and helped in remembering that no matter of what age we were these, morals will always guide us. We had fun while finding good stories. The next task for that day was to make a poster for an upcoming event for the NGO, which was equally fun. We actually got to imply what we learnt in English all these years.
The task for our second day was to write about volunteering, different kinds of volunteering and recognizing the NGOs which support and promote volunteering. While doing this task we got familiar with what volunteering means for different kinds of organization and the kinds of volunteering that exist providing a wide range of choices for people to choose from if they are interested. Last but not the least, we got to know different NGOs around which promote volunteering. This task was an eye opener for us, as we all weren’t familiar with how an NGO works which promotes volunteering.
On our third day, each of us was asked to pick two NGOs and write about its vision, mission, and causes it supports, kinds of volunteers it needs and how it operates. After this were asked to work on iVolunteer’s database (of NGOs) in terms of removing duplicate data and filling the missing information.
All in all, it was a learning experience for all of us about how an NGO works and the importance of volunteering.
We had a enjoyable experience with you Yasmin! Here’s wishing you and your friends a brighter future ahead :)
Today we share with you special volunteering reflection… Goutam Chanda, he takes interest in conducting workshops, interacting with youths. He comes with a reach experience; feedback on his ways has been very impressive. Here he shares his experiences as a volunteer…
My blog…Goutam Chanda
After I got connected with iVolunteer in last year , there has been a series of interesting activities and I was introduced to the Kolkata based NGO named Tiljala Shed . It started my wonderful journey into volunteering , as I started conducting a weekend classroom course on Spoken English, for under-privileged students who are coming from Hindi, Urdu and Bengali medium school & colleges .
After the ice-breaking on the very first day , the keen interest and the active participation, of these young girls were surprising for me. As if they had been waiting for such a course for too long and too eagerly. Myself, not being a Teacher, par say, had to raise my bar with each passing session and I was too happy to do that.
The more I progressed with the classes , more participation came from the group and also many intelligent queries . The journey is still on. I went back being a curious student again.. and I am too having many learnings , like I learnt about the many personal aspirations that these bright young people carry with them. Like all other teenagers they too have daring dreams in their hearts , and in spite of their very daunting social & financial background they are willing to go a few extra miles for their dreams. For them learning spoken English is one of the enablers
Learning – Sharing is fun ,,, be it a skill or just some quality time. Volunteering has also help me gain new friends from varied backgrounds.
Love – The cheer & enthusiasm that I see in the participating students entice me most. I also love my sense of accomplishment when I found them inching towards their goal.
Highlight – After the very first classroom session and the interaction , in the next class the number of participants increased noticeably . Enquired and found that every student has brought along a new friend to share their excitement about this course . This told me I got to live up-to the expectation which has right in the beginning.
Thought – Its a brilliant project..it provides a convenient platform for those who are willing to do their bit in volunteering. The best part is gives quite some choice about the type of activity preferred.
I am lucky to have got this chance to renew my connection with the learner’s world. I have got new friends , new followers, new hopes . I got to give more. More Giving is equal to even more Returns..
This theory does not surprise me any more.
I first learned about LinkedIn when I had passed out of my post graduate program. I was excited and spent good amount of time setting up my profile. I wrote a few recommendations for a few of my classmates and they returned the favour. From then now I got hooked looking up people’s profiles with similar interest areas and adding them to my network.
Now this forum seems to helping me more than ever. The current project called GYAN that I am handling has given me more room to be in LinkedIn. Get Your Answers Now or GYAN are customized training sessions organized exclusively for NGO professionals for no more than 10 participants. Who conducts these sessions ? Professionals who volunteer their time and effort to handhold NGOs in areas such as Excel, Successful Pitching for Corporate Partnerships, Social Media Marketing, Volunteer Management, Crowd-Funding, Developing/organizing Content, and the like.
Finding suitable trainers who commit their time is very crucial for this project. Professional networks, past trainers and past trainers recommending other trainers are the most used sources for locating these resource persons. However, LinkedIn has opened new doors as a fresh resource pool with its feature called skill based volunteering that can be included in one’s profile.
Credit goes to the national coordinator of GYAN who helped me navigate through this feature. So when looking for a trainer for a specialist area such as Communications or Fund-Raising, profiles which include skill based volunteering get filtered in. One only needs to remember to select the choice of skill based volunteering under the column – Non profit interests when searching for profiles and LinkedIn takes care of the rest.
This way I have located some trainers in the areas of writing annual report, fund-raising, cause marketing and counselling. I have started planning sessions with them this year. True to the projection of skill based volunteering in their profile they keenly accepted my invitation to conduct a training for the non-profits. Just another example of how technology has built more ways of communicating and connecting better.
I first met Kiran about one and a half years ago, when she was working as a Volunteer Manager at one of our partner NGOs. Our conversations ranged from why skill based volunteering, best practices and how to keep volunteers motivated! When she took a break from work, she registered with iVolunteer and was keen on volunteering for one month… The 1 month has now become 4 months and counting!!
Here’s Kiran’s story of volunteering and what keeps her motivated to volunteer…..
Tell me something about yourself
I am Kiran Rao and I have been working in the development sector for around 9 years now in the areas of program and volunteer management, HR, Donor Relation and Fundraising. The NGOs I have worked for professionally have worked for causes including disability, children, youth and women empowerment. Mentoring, Planning and executing have been my core area, which has allowed me to progress in my career and advance within these fields.
Why did you decide to volunteer?
Working for the Ngo sector has always been my passion and interest. While I was on a break, I wanted to share my skills with an NGO which would give me immense satisfaction, an opportunity to share my skills and work during my free timings. This was the time I got to know about Tamahar Trust through iVolunteer. Tamahar Trust is an NGO which works for children with special needs. The organization was close to home and the cause close to my heart and therefore I decided to volunteer there..
Can you tell us about the volunteering opportunity?
Coming from the NGO space and considering I had a full one month to volunteer, I wanted to meet the NGO first, understand their requirements and then take on responsibilities. My first meeting was with Vaishali Pai, the founder of the organization and we explored various volunteering opportunities. I narrowed it down to 3 projects:
- Developing a volunteer management plan – My core area of expertise
- A fundraising plan – as the NGO did not have one and did not know how to plan for one
- Help create a pre-vocational training programme for students over 17+ years
As the month passed, I found myself enjoying my time at Tamahar Trust and I have taken on additional responsibilities based on the need including being the point of contact for several volunteers and interns, helping with an organization plan for 3 years for scaling up, social media planning and website designing with the support of other volunteers and paid designers.
Were there any challenges?
The organization did not have an organizational strategy in place and the founder Vaishali was needed for everything – this was making it difficult for the organization to scale up. So with the help of other volunteers, we are putting together an organizational structure with roles and responsibilities of existing staff and a 3 year plan to scale up.
What has been the output?
I have come up with a fundraising plan and we are working towards an event in April 2015. This apart Vaishali and myself have created a fundraising calendar for the year.
I am coordinating with volunteers/designers to revamping the website and are updating events on a regular basis. I have designed a volunteer management plan including an orientation presentation, induction of volunteers, defining roles for volunteers, maintaining a volunteer database and tracking volunteer hours. At present I am training a staff member through this process.
I am working on an organization plan for 3 years and internally, we are identifying a suitable staff to handle social media.
What did you enjoy the most?
Everything! The people, the positive attitude they carry towards work and the holistic approach while working with a child with brain damage.
Time does fly when you enjoy what you do!
Like every individual who intends to volunteer, I had some inhibitions too when I agreed to volunteer for GYAN on ‘Volunteer Management’. Having served at various roles for 8.5 years and a background of volunteer management didn’t add to letting off my fear and nervousness. The ‘yes’to taking the workshop was soon followed by constant push from the facilitators on:
- Do you have a form to capture participants’ expectations?
- What do you intend to leave participants with?
- What will be the essence of the 5 hrs session?
I regretted saying ‘Yes’ and went on to creating different documents which will help me understand their existing practices and some which will help them manage their volunteers better.
To my surprise I started liking what I was doing; I was really a consultant to all these big ‘Volunteer driven’ organisation helping them design better strategy. This role was explored by me in the past but this time it was different. It gave me satisfaction and it didn’t bore me. It added value to my experience, streaks of working with different causes, different needs, limited resources and different professionals. Professionals who came with vast experience of volunteer management and from different background- all working towards one common goal of creating difference in the Society through volunteers. The thought was enough to give me Goosebumps!!
The expectations from these participants put me to next set of objective- the objective of creating content to suit everyone’s expectations which were more or less similar- Volunteer recruitment, Volunteer Retention and Volunteer recognition. I carefully designed documents which will help participants select committed volunteers, define their roles suitably and mark their deliverables well, appraise them, promote them and eventually help them stay around for long.
I also tried incorporating different activities in the workshop which will facilitate peer-learning and maximise the impact of the training. The day of training was smooth and the flow was well received by the audience. They were participative, enthusiastic and eager to grasp as much as I was eager to give away. Once the training was complete, feedback towards the content, delivery and training material rewarded me enough to volunteer to take on more such projects.
It was a truly enriching experience for it helped me learn more and helped me learn from different contexts.