Youth Volunteerism to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals

By: Felice Valeria, Content Writer Intern Project Child Indonesia

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

According to the United Nations, there are 1.8 billion people aged between 10-24 in the world, which could be said as the largest generation of youth in history. Hence, the role of youth in advocating for and executing changes seems to be really crucial, especially by taking into account their role as agents of change for the future. In responding to this particular phenomenon, the United Nations has highly distressed and encouraged the active participation of young people to contribute in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In many countries, particularly the developing and underdeveloped ones, most of the youths are facing several major challenges in terms of SDGs, such as but not limited to the lack of access to education, healthcare, and employment, which eventually would create more structural socio-economic problems in the future. Of course, one of the relatively best and easiest ways to foster their involvement in solving those problems is undoubtedly through volunteering activities.

Volunteerism, which is mostly executed through non-profit organizations, has significantly impacted the stakeholders involved, which include the non-profit themselves, as well as the communities and the youths. Nonprofits could be benefited through the expansion of missions, innovative ideas, enhanced public support, and the cultivation of new supporters and volunteers. Meanwhile, the young people could take advantage in terms of their increase of self-development, which include but not limited to responsibility, empathy, self-esteem, new social skills, improved physical and mental health, interest in learning, and other psychological and intellectual developments. The United Nations itself has recognized volunteer groups as one of the stakeholders to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, that might also considerably foster its national planning and implementation.

It could be seen that volunteerism is a prominent fuel for sustainable development, and it is highly recommended for all communities to get involved. Nonetheless, despite the aforementioned benefits of youth volunteerism, a considerable amount of young people may unfortunately still be discouraged from conducting volunteering activities, which might be caused by the lack of information, lack of time, lack of interest, and so forth. As these problems should be taken into account, volunteerism would definitely provide abundant benefits for the youths and the grass-root communities, especially in the efforts of achieving SDGs. As volunteerism was not featured in the agenda of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), despite its significance to be implemented. Further significance and effectiveness of volunteerism could be proven by the fact that countries which have high amount of volunteers are more vibrant in terms of economic and social conditions, according to the statistics by the International Forum for Volunteering in Development. Many aspects that drive poverty could also be gradually resolved from the act of volunteering, such as education, health, employment, and livelihoods, which are the key objectives of the SDGs.

Wait no more, let’s be a volunteer to achieve SDGs hand in hand, young people!

Developing Professional Volunteerism in Social Works

by Margareta Danastri

Defining the term “professional volunteerism” is tricky. The word “professional” could mean someone who gets paid for doing a job, whereas the word “volunteerism” means performing work without getting paid. Thus, the term “professional volunteerism” might sound like an oxymoron. However, the word “professional” also means having an exceptional skill and mastery at something. Referring to the latter definition, “professional volunteerism” could be understood as the act of implementing high level of skills, mastery and work ethics in doing unpaid work.

Professional volunteerism usually takes place at nonprofit organizations which mostly rely on volunteers to operate. It is done by preparing volunteers with necessary skills and knowledge to make sure volunteers are ready to contribute positively to the community they work with, instead of doing harm. By developing professional volunteerism, a nonprofit organization could maintain the quality of their programs, as well as developing a strong base of skilled volunteers who hold crucial roles in helping the organization achieve their goals. It enhances the quality of service they give to people or community they work with, and gain better trust from donors and sponsors. Professional volunteerism helps to ensure program sustainability in the long run.

Professional volunteerism is developed by well-managing the projects and activities where volunteers are involved. The organization is responsible for fulfilling the volunteers’ need for support during their volunteering time and making sure that volunteers are appreciated for their contribution. The ongoing problem commonly found in volunteer-based social work is disorganized volunteer management. Some organizations depend completely on volunteers’ good intention to show up now and then without any clear commitment. It is good to facilitate the volunteers’ time flexibility, but besides being ineffective for the program, volunteers will feel disengaged and lose interest over time. It motivates them more when volunteers gain a sense of meaning and accomplishment from the program and are recognized by the organization for their significance. It is necessary to make a distinct agreement about commitment, responsibilities, and benefits that occur to both parties during the volunteering process. Training and orientation sessions are essential to make sure volunteers are ready to face the challenges as they dive right into the field. When given the right support and treatment, volunteers will be willing to go the extra miles and help achieve a bigger impact.

Professional volunteerism assures you that the time and effort you are pouring is carefully managed to benefit both yourself and other people

Professional volunteerism also helps volunteers to grow professionally and benefits the volunteers in many ways. Firstly, it lets you practice your professional skills. When you choose to volunteer specifically in the field of your expertise, it gives you hands-on experience and develops your skills set. You can even acquire new skills and have more freedom to experiment in the relatively low-risk environment. This is especially beneficial for college students and fresh graduates who need opportunities to kick-start their career and increase their future employability. Secondly, you will get a chance to expand your networking. You will get to know people from various backgrounds who share the same views and beliefs as you. You can even meet influential people or community leaders, people who will widen your perspective about the world and those you can earn knowledge from. Thirdly, you will gain an incredibly rewarding experience. Volunteering can be very fulfilling as you do good for other people and help make a difference. It energizes you and makes you feel less absorbed in your daily life stresses. It also helps for professional workers who want a break from their stressful job, as well as improving their skills while at the same time giving back to the community. After all, professional volunteerism assures you that the time and effort you are pouring is carefully managed to benefit both yourself and other people.

Project Child Indonesia aims to develop professional volunteerism by applying professional management in volunteer involvement. By giving volunteer the proper training and orientation, we intend to reduce the risk of giving harm to the society we work with. We value our volunteers greatly, and we do our best in maximizing our resources to better support our volunteers. We really hope that volunteers will gain valuable experience when working with us, and flourish both personally and professionally. Developing professional volunteerism is also our take on maintaining a sustainable act of kindness. By professionally managing our programs and volunteers, we believe that we are able to achieve bigger and do greater good for the cause.

What Makes a Good Volunteer?

by Felix Prayogo

So, you decided to volunteer in a social organization. You’re still new to the volunteer world, so you might be worried or confused on what to do, or what you should do. You also might be afraid to ask to other volunteer or your supervisor. In the end you probably won’t do much work and you won’t enjoy volunteering as you should be.

So, what makes a good volunteer? Are there any indicator to it? Probably there are, but for most of the organization, these are the main factor that you can call yourself a success volunteer.

  1. Commitment.
    Consider your schedule first. If you are a full time worker, who work from Monday to Friday, from 9 to 5, it will be better to take weekend program or project. Or also consider the cost, as sometimes you might need to be abroad or in other region to do a voluntary project or program and you are needed to be self-sufficient. For some non-profit organizations, your commitment is priceless. For them, your commitment is the key to their success. No commitment can ruin programs or projects that organizations already make and it’s also bad for your resume, as usually you seems incapable of giving your time for the work you are given. Commitment is one of the key to your success volunteering.
  2. Flexibility
    Combined with your commitment, you have to be flexible. It can means you have to be ready for something so sudden. Sometimes you can be contacted by your supervisor to do a job that need to be done immediately. Sometimes you are also needed by your supervisor to do something that you might have no or little knowledge of, but there are no one available to do it, beside you. Flexibility in volunteering can be in a shape of time and skills. The benefits of you being flexible are you are better in your time management and you also have a new skill or ability to do something that might be useful in the future.
  3. Team Player
    Most of the programs or projects that are ran by organizations are usually ran in team, which mean you have to be a team player. You have to communicate to your supervisor and your colleague volunteers. Being a team player will be advantageous as your work is shared with others. You will also get a bonus of learning how to do things together, and it will be good for your resume as well. One more reason for being a team player, you will strengthen your bond with your co-volunteers, meaning you will get a new network outside from your current circle.
  4. Adaptable
    This one might be hard, but sometimes it’s the major point of being a volunteer. By being adaptable, you are aware of new situations, and you can manage to handle those new situations very well. You are also needed to be adaptable to new working environment, especially if you are volunteering abroad or in other region of your country. Different culture and work ethics will be imposed to you, and being able to adapt to those will greatly help you making your volunteering easier.
  5. Creativity
    Last but not least, creativity. This isn’t necessary if you are volunteering in a short-term, as you are already given a job description by the organization where you volunteer. You might need creativity in a long-term voluntary projects and programs, as you might be encountering new problems and new situations that made you need to think over the plans that you and your team have made. By being creative, you can help tackle problems that happen when you are volunteering and it also helps you as a person, people around you and the organization where you are volunteering, as they might use your solutions for future references.

These are some of the factors you might find from a good volunteer. But these aren’t common standard for a good volunteer, as different organizations need different factors as well. If you think you don’t have most of the factors that have been mentioned in here, you can ask directly to the organization you want to volunteer. You can also check their interview questions when you do the interview with them as you might find what they need or what they are looking for. These factors can be your references, but it might be not 100 percent accurate. So search more for it in the Internet or by asking people who had been volunteering.

Why Volunteer? Few Reasons to Consider

by Felix Prayogo

So, after you know what is volunteering, you still wondering, what will I get from giving away my free time and resources for something that’s free? Well, when you volunteer, you will get lots of benefit. You might not get salary or money to compensate with, but here are some of the reasons why you should volunteer.

  1. Volunteer live longer and healthier.Yep, you read that right. Volunteer tends to live longer and healthier than those who are non-volunteer. Dawn C. Carr, assistant professor at Florida University, said that “older people who volunteer remain physically functional longer, have more robust psychological well-being and live longer.” She also mentioned that these older people are those who are already did some volunteering when they were young, and some of them still doing it post-retirement. Also, for those of you who like numbers, United Health Care did a study in 2013 on people who volunteered in the past 12 months and found that 76 percent of them feel healthier, 94 percent said that it improve their mood, 80 percent said they have control over your body and 78 percent said that volunteering lover their stress levels. So, volunteering made you not only physically, but also mentally healthier.
  2. Volunteering is good for your career. Yes, it’s good for your career. For you who still studying in university or college, volunteering will help you in the eyes of recruiters. United Health Care, in the same study as above, found that 49 percent of those who are working and volunteering said that volunteering helped with their career in the paid job market. By volunteering, you will get a new experience, especially on practical work that recruiters usually need on their way to look for employees. Those are teamwork and several skills that are needed for the job you applying. You can also understand how to work directly because sometimes there are things that not been taught in classes and you can get it through volunteering. After working, the effect of volunteering also helped people to grow their career. 87 percent of those who said that volunteering helped their career, also said that volunteering developed their people and teamwork skills. 75 percent of the same people also said that it helped them with their time management. Volunteering can help improve your career skills.
  3. Volunteering help bring out your passion. Usually, you know what to do, or what you like to do. You probably like to meet lots of people and talking to them. You might like to teach children. You like to help people in needs. But you don’t get the space or place to do so. By volunteering, you can do what you want. You can volunteer as teacher for those who are still illiterate. You can talk with people in needs, motivate them to do well or to do things. You can help elderly in nursing house and hear their stories. It brings happiness out of you. You can also volunteer to give contribution to some issues you support. You can volunteer to plant trees at specific places as you are environmentalist, or you can volunteer as veterinarian to help animals adapting to their own habitat, etc. It can make you feel satisfied, as you are fulfilling something you encourage.
  4. Volunteering helps expanding your network. When you are volunteering, you meet lots of people from various background. Carr said that you might find people outside of your circle. Your friend inside your circle or in the same network as yours probably provide redundant information as they are doing the same activities and know the same people as you do. By volunteering, you expand your network to new people and new interests that these new people have. From there, you can get more option to continue your life, as lots of choices are given by people from your own circle and also from people you met when volunteering. That’s why volunteering might help you with your network.

There are lots of other reason that you might find inside yourself. So think deeply, what will I get if I volunteer? Is it for my present? Or for my future? More than just money or salary (which you won’t get anyway), there are lots of thing to explore for you while volunteering.

What is Volunteering?

by Felix Prayogo

Volunteering. Is it good? Is it bad? The classic stereotype that appears when you hear the word “volunteer”, according to Dummies, is someone who has lots of time to spare and is looking for something to do. While it’s correct, this stereotype is also misleading. Not everyone who is volunteering has lots of time to spare (consider some full-time office workers who volunteered in several non-profit organizations) and is looking for something to do (consider housewives with lots of housework to do).

So, what is volunteering? Merriam-Webster defined it as “a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service, such as (a) one who enters into military service voluntarily; (b) (1) one who renders a service or takes part in a transaction while having no legal concern or interest (2) one who receives a conveyance or transfer of property without giving valuable consideration”. Meanwhile Oxford Dictionary defined volunteer as “(1) a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task; (2) a person who works for an organization without being paid”.

From those two reliable sources, we can take some keywords. Those keywords are: voluntarily, freely, willingness, without being paid. As you might already know, while you are volunteering, there are some aspects to which you might want to sacrifice. Mostly you are sacrificing your time, energy and money. But, in returns, you get lots of benefits, from new experience, meeting new people, polish your resumes and, most of all, you enjoy something you love or passionate to.

So, volunteering is a good thing. While you might be doing something that takes lots of your resources, it also gives you new things to learn from. Whether it is for your enjoyment or for your resume, doing something for “free” can make you a better person. For those who still hesitate to volunteer, think of new experience you might get for something you need in the future. For those who are volunteering, this is your chance to show the world what you can give to the community. Lastly, for those who have already volunteered, you’ve done a great job and don’t forget to volunteer again for better future of you.

Things that We Need to Know before Becoming a Volunteer

by Ario B. Utomo

Let’s assume that you have read our article about the benefits of volunteering. You close your browser tab, rise from your comfy bed, and finally promise to yourself that you want to be a volunteer. So, what’s next? While having a good intention is an important start, it is also important to adjust yourself into the right mindset. Through an interview, our founder, Aya, shares some essential points that we need to understand before deciding to be a volunteer.

  1. We need to learn before helping. Emptying our glass is a key to every good deed. At this point, all prospective volunteers need to be mindful that volunteering is more like a chance to learn instead to give. In Project Child Indonesia, we provide our personnels with key learnings about voluntarism and some important teaching skills in order to make them become better volunteers in the future.
  2. Become a part of the solution. We know that everyone wants to be an impactful person, but we have to admit that some impactful things take a long time to achieve. Social problems are so complex that it is naïve to think that our volunteering will eventually solve every single problem. Therefore, we have to humbly acknowledge ourselves as a mere part of the solution instead of being trapped in a superhero syndrome. Always try to immerse yourself with the social system by listening to the people, because not every good intention is relevant with the real needs of the people.
  3. Random act of kindness is not enough. Not to say that random act of kindness is useless, not at all. However, we just cannot alleviate poverty by giving coins to beggars, or by giving free meals to the homeless on a specific day. As volunteers, we need to turn our simple efforts into a collective social movement. Creating a sustainable social cause is what we do at Project Child Indonesia, and by joining us, you can have a first-hand experience of it.