Top Tips for Giving ResponsiblyVolunteering & Travel Advice / 12 December 2016
Volunteers offer a vital contribution to our projects in their work supporting disadvantaged children, communities, animals and conservation research. Volunteers, in offering their skills, time and knowledge, enable the projects to achieve their long term goals however they often seek to make a more tangible personal contribution to the project aswell. It is brilliant that volunteers wish to enhance their contribution to the projects, however it is important that this is done in a meaningful way that complements the work already being undertaken.
Stuck for ideas? Check your Volunteering Guide
Everyone who applies to join one of our volunteer projects is sent a Volunteering Guide for their chosen project (or projects!). This contains indepth and comprehensive information about the project, as well as a list of suggested resources/donations that are required or desired by the project itself. This list is continuously updated according to reflect the current needs of the project and sometimes includes specialised items such as multi tool kits and gardening gloves which are cheaper and easier to find at home than it would be in the project country.
It is important to be aware of this list as it will ensure that you only take relevant resources with you as some items are cheaper and more readily available in the project country! For example donations such as pens and paper are always welcomed at the project but at some projects, these will be available in the local area so you could avoid travelling with these items to your placement as well as buy buying in country, you would be supporting the local industry. If you would like to know what is available to buy locally, look in your Volunteering Guide or ask your placement manager who will be able to advise you!
Is your donation sustainable in the long-term?
A donation can only achieve its full potential if the project can continue to benefit from your donation after you have left. To avoid a donation bringing challenges and issues in the future, it is important to consider whether project staff have the knowledge and means to continue using your donation in your absence. For example, if you have donated a laptop it would be worthwhile to train local staff on how to use it; or if you have donated whiteboards making sure they have enough funds to buy pens.
How should you hand your donation over?
The best way to make sure your donation will make a long-lasting difference is by talking to the team on the ground; it is also good to talk to them to ensure you present your donation the right way. Local staff will be able to gauge the environment and understand how a donation may be perceived. If your donation may encourage others to support the project by raising awareness of the needs of the project within the local community, a form of presentation or acknowledgment of the gift may be the best course of action. However sometimes this may not be appropriate as it may be seen to reinforce the image of the community as dependent on foreign donors and position volunteers as financial donors rather than a source of support.
What form could your donation take?
Some volunteers build on their contribution they have already made to their project, by offering a financial donation via the Pod Charity. Donations can be directed back to the donor’s chosen project, we can pass on 100% of donations received as the main running costs of the charity are covered by Pod Volunteer! We work closely with our projects to support them in their use of donations to strive towards their goals and aims. Click here for more information on how to donate to the Pod Charity.
Some volunteers choose to donate to the project before they set off for their volunteering placement, this is usually done through fundraising. This is a rewarding way to donate to the project, as volunteers are able to see for themselves the difference the donations can make. We have a Fundraising Guide which is full of inspiring fundraising ideas to help you get a kick start!
With careful consideration when donating to overseas projects as how to give responsibly, you can make a lasting difference to the projects. So go on, get out there and start giving responsibly!
You can find out more about the exciting volunteering opportunities and how to get involved here