Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The relationship between charities and volunteers


A few days ago we came across this link to an article published by The Third Sector.

David Ainsworth's "Is volunteering too much hard work for charities?" was not only a fascinating read, but on a couple of points it left us feeling; aahhh, yes! Been there, experienced that!

For example, "..it also seemed clear that many charities, while they wanted help, weren't really set up for receiving it. All three organisations I spoke to underestimated the time it would take them to deal with me. And none seemed keen on the idea that any help they received would lead to work they would have to carry on themselves."

At Ridealist we've worked with some fantastic partners -- and from time to time we've experienced those who fit rather well with David's above description. In the latter case the proposed project often quietly gathers digital dust in the "to do" file on our computer.

From a personal perspective as the volunteer, we've found all the projects rewarding or educational in one way or another, irregardless of whether they resulted in a published video or photo essay.

But sometimes, even after all the hard work, when the video is edited and the images carefully photoshopped - the projects haven't achieved the desired result.

As David points out, "Now the common factor in all these situations was me, the volunteer, so I can't rule out the possibility that my advice was unhelpful, or that I didn't have the particular skills they needed, and that's why these experiences were unsuccessful."

As much as possible we try to establish a rapport with the group we're working with to build a clear idea of what they would like us to do, what they are hoping to achieve, and how (and of course where) would they like the finished product to appear.

Thoughtful input from both sides is essential, it is very much a two way street.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

But unless you try, you'll never know!

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