NGO Careers: Towards a lifetime of volunteering

By Robin Toal

Volunteers around the world contribute billions of dollars worth of work and millions of man hours every year. From international IGO’s like UNICEF down to grassroots organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa, there are dedicated volunteers giving up their free time for a cause they believe in. Most organisations simply would not be able to survive without the continued support of volunteers. Every year, people are made happier and safer by the hard work of volunteers.

The value of volunteers to NGOs in indisputable. They enable organisations to increase their capacity and achieve more than they would otherwise. Volunteers work in every area from fundraising and legal affairs to field work and administration. Their wealth of skills allow NGOs to direct as much resources as possible towards their beneficiary communities, helping them to create a better world.

Many people, quite incorrectly, see volunteering as something that people do either when they are younger or when they have retired. Certainly these two groups make up a large chunk of volunteers and their schedules enable them to volunteer where people in full time jobs may not be able to.

However, this group of skilled and experienced people are the ones we need to persuade to continue volunteering throughout their lives. People with experience in the workplace often have qualities that can be applied to NGOs that can help them out significantly. Most charities are run like a business and they need appropriate business skills to be successful. Some of these skills can br brought in but these costs detract from money that could be used to support their core mission. When people volunteer their time, NGOs save money and are better able to support their cause.

Imagine a world where every person volunteered for just a few hours a week? Where every one of usdedicated just a small proportion of our time to supporting people in need. How many lives could we change? How much better could we make the world for every single one of us?

This is an appeal to every human being out there. We all know that there are people with less opportunities than us. We know that there are organisations working to create a better world who we could support. And we all have something that we can contribute. Volunteer for life and help create a better world today.

To help inspire you to volunteer we’ve created a list of the top ten reasons why you should volunteer now and in the future!

1. Make a difference: Charitable causes the world over always need more support to achieve their goals. You can be that difference that helps to change lives for the better. When it comes to NGOs every small action really does contribute to something bigger. What better reason is there than to help change the world for the better?

2. Enjoy yourself: Volunteering can be an amazing experience full of laughter, new experiences and new friends. You will get to see and do things that you may not have the chance to otherwise. Volunteer and you’ll create memories that will last you a lifetime.

3. Improve you healthYes, really! Recent research has shown that volunteering makes a measurable positive difference on individuals overall happiness and mental well being. Forget about the gym, take care of others and yourself at the same time by volunteering!

4. Develop new skills: Volunteering often pushes people to develop new skills and new ways of thinking. Just being in a different environment where people work differently can help you to develop life long skills that help you in every part of your life.

5. Give your career a boost: Volunteering is one of the most respected ways of gaining experience according to employers. If you want to get ahead try volunteering for an organisation that works in a similar field to where you want to work and try to absorb as much as you can. It will not only look great on your CV, it will give you an edge when going for your dream job.

6. Be inspired: Most charitable organisations are full of interesting people with stories to tell, but often the beneficiaries your NGO supports are even better! Whether you are being regaled with stories from the past by an elderly couple or a young child is showing you all the different ways to look at the world, often you can’t help but be inspired!

7. Give something back: Many of us live extremely fortunate lives. We have a roof over our head, family, friends and rarely go to sleep hungry. The world isn’t like that for everyone. In fact, there is unimaginable suffering taking place in almost every country in the world. A lot of us leave privileged lives and if we have the opportunity to give something back to the world then we really should.

8. Be part of something big: A lot of us will only be able to donate a relatively small amount of time each week, but it is important to see the bigger picture you are contributing to. Powerful work is made up of thousands of actions from any number of people who come together to build something better. Contribute to something amazing and help create a better world for everyone.

9. Change lives: Many volunteering roles offer you the chance to contribute to people’s lives directly. Whether you are helping out in an old peoples home or at a centre for disabled people, many NGOs will give you the opportunity to make personal connections. Sometimes all it takes is a smile and a pleasant conversation to brighten up someone’s day. Volunteering gives you the chance to make a unique contribution to peoples lives, don’t miss out!

10. Use your skills: Often referred to as pro bono support, this type of volunteering involves donating your professional skills to a charitable organisation. Whether you are an accountant, lawyer, nurse, teacher, manager, mechanic or almost any other profession, you can find an organisation that is badly in need of your professional skills. Help organisations you believe in to save their money on professional fees and support them to help more people in more ways than before.