Selecting from the hundreds of organizations offering the type of volunteer opportunity you are looking for can be tricky. While most of these organization will feature a glossy website and brochure detailing the different elements of the experiences they provide, the reality is that not all of them will offer the same degree of support and guidance to volunteers.
Finding the right fit for you will depend largely on some thorough research on your part. To help you on your way, we have put together a list of things that you should look for in a volunteer organization before you commit your time, effort and money to the cause.
Is the organization really a “non-profit”?
Be aware of the existence of profit-making organizations which market themselves as non-profits. If you are fundraising or have to pay for a fee to take part in your volunteer program, you need to be able to feel confident that your money is going toward the cause and not simply lining the pockets of the organization’s opportunistic owner.
Does the organization have a good record of looking after its volunteers?
With the cost for getting onto a volunteer program usually quite steep, you will want to make sure that you will be properly looked after. This means gaining assurances when it comes to practicalities like meals, sleeping arrangements and medical provisions. You can easily find out about an organization’s attitude toward caring for its volunteers by checking out the testimonials left by others on third-party review sites.
Do you know exactly you will be expected to do?
It is not unheard of for the expectations of volunteers to differ wildly from those of the organization they are volunteering with. It is not a nice feeling to feeling to arrive on-site only to find that you are either sitting around unoccupied for longer periods than you were expecting or that you are worked much harder than you expected to when you signed up. Take some time to find out exactly how much you will be expected to contribute to carrying out your voluntary duties before you commit.
How long do I want to volunteer for?
The final question you should be asking yourself is how much of your time you are prepared to dedicate to a volunteer opportunity. The programs offered by volunteer organizations can vary in length from a couple of weeks to a number of months. It is important to find a volunteer program which offers the option of volunteering for a period that suits your budget and your time limitations. If you think that there may be a possibility that you might extend your stay in the program, settle on a price beforehand with the organization to avoid any disputes or disappointment at a later date.
Finding the perfect volunteer opportunity for you requires research. Answering the questions above will help you to make up your mind when looking through the options. Once you are satisfied that a program fits your needs, all that remains is to fix a date and look forward to the experience.