So continuing my quest for us to do better. I have had my say about the mistakes I believe communities make
Now it’s time for the receiving organisations – these could be, and are, charities NGO’s and not for profits – all of whom accept volunteers from sending organisations such as people and places and act as the facilitator between projects and volunteers. Sometimes the projects themselves are receiving organisations. I have naively assumed the organisation wants to be responsible and serve the community as best it can – I know there are a load of organisations out there that don’t have that motivation –
Mistakes receiving organisations make
1”.The sending organisation has done all the work to prepare the volunteer. “ Nope – you guys are on the ground – you know the nuances and the latest developments .Some of the sending agencies you work with have done nothing more than take the volunteers money and send them an “itinerary”.
In most instances they have sent the information you have provided – you will know whether it is good enough
2.” We shouldn’t interfere the project knows best”– Mmmmmm – tricky one this – what about that cultural divide – how will volunteers ever understand – how will projects know what support they need from volunteers if they have never had experience of such skills? And see 5 below –
3. “ Volunteers are just tourists who care a little more“ – right and wrong – we are by the very nature of the short time we spend with you “just tourists” but in my experience 100% of volunteers want a far greater degree of engagement with the people they are visiting – the vast majority have done a lot of research – they want to make a difference – they want to participate. Each and every volunteer is different – your people skills need to be really well honed – if you don’t have someone in place with these skills it will be messy.
4. “The volunteers I am sending in to communities have been checked out they won’t do any harm” Have you checked that they are checked? Have you provided the right info to ensure that volunteers do not behave inappropriately? Do you have right of refusal – are you given any information about the volunteer before they arrive – credit card numbers and passport details don’t count in my book!
5. Same mistake as the communities – “They know best” No they don’t – they know different and they will know more about some things and they will know things that you don’t know – BUT they do not know best and you certainly know a lot that they don’t know – including most important of all your community! It is your responsibility to ensure that volunteers and communities know this
6.”Once we have said our fond farewells our work is over” Not in my experience – a third of our volunteers come home and want to continue to support “their project”……managing that is time consuming and VERY challenging
AND one from my heart!
7. “It’s not urgent” my particular bug bear – why is it that local organisations in host countries believe that we ( sending organisation) will continue to cover their arses when they are late with information? This is not professional – it is not a good impression and and “developing country” is no excuse – you give me a date – it’s your date – then deliver! –
So again – what have I missed where am I wrong?
Next – sending orgs I think