10 professionals for your organization development
AKA, when volunteers can offer much more than what they (and you) think
Each one of us, at least once, has complained about the lack of resources: lack of money, staff, computers, space… It is no surprise, in our professional area, that 3 people have to work for 6, with a shaky internet connection and a slow-starting computer.
So one thing is for sure: you are not alone! That is good news, but the issue remains. What to do? In this blog post, we explore how international volunteers, even if short-term or remote, can represent invaluable resources to support the strategic, administrative and internal growth of our organizations.
More often than not, volunteers do not realize how their professional skills can benefit our organizations. Professionals of any background are often driven to think that their skills are not relevant or necessary to the world of NGOs and international development. That is why they apply for low-skills jobs. It is our job (and that of our volunteer coordinators) to scout these invaluable resources and show them that they can do much more than what they think!
Our scouting for talents and professional skills has to be systematic. But it depends on our volunteering programme’s structure. If your organization offers volunteers a variety of roles to choose from, you are one step ahead. Why? Because you are already telling volunteers that there is more than one way to help, more than one skill needed. Volunteers often think volunteering is just about teaching kids, and some of them do not feel up to the task. By listing administrative roles –such as fundraising, communication, design… or manual/craft roles –such as cooking, gardening, painting walls… you are telling them there is much more to the life of a social project than what they think.
If instead, your organization does not have a list of roles, you might have a bit more work to do. When volunteers see your volunteering programme, they see a flexible but unclear schedule, made of tasks they cannot fully predict. Professionals might still apply, moved by the enthusiasm to support your cause, but they might fail to reveal what they can do best, in an attempt to present themselves as volunteers that can do a bit of everything. It is then your job to scout those candidates that have hidden potential.
Professionals you cannot miss
Have you ever thought that you might have worked with great professionals and failed to ask them if they could help you with their main skills?
Small and medium organizations can benefit greatly from the volunteers’ professional skills, making great consultants and trainers out of them! But which are the professionals that could help you with your internal development? Of course, it depends on your internal capacity and strategy, but here you have some ideas:
1- Web developer:
How many of us still use an old website, not user-friendly, not mobile friendly, or both? Websites are expensive, even if we settle for a WordPress page.
So a developer coming in as a volunteer is a gift! With his/her help we might be able to improve our page performance, or even start developing a new one. Bear in mind that developers can help you also once they go back home: distance is not a big issue.
2- Social Media managers:
Our communication style on social media is important and so is our image and our ability to tell stories. We need to capture the attention of a public mostly made of millennials who are now used to consume information which is dynamic, concise and easy to read.
Not everyone is so lucky to have somebody on the team able to do this kind of work. And that is why a social media expert would be ideal for a volunteering experience in your office, designing a new communication strategy and training your team.
As we were saying, the world of communication is changing. In order to make the most of this new trend, we need to adapt our marketing and campaigning strategy to global standards. And this goes beyond the quality of content, including SEO and SEM strategy, for example.
No worries if you don’t master these concepts yet: a volunteer might come to the rescue. A person able to optimize your website for Google search, or able to train your team to the basics of professional marketing and campaigning would be ideal. Make sure you don’t miss this chance if the opportunity arises.
4- Accountancy and administration:
Accountancy and administration have always been part of the life of an organization. However, they are still an issue for most of us, who struggle with accounts, financial reports, and budget projections.
If this is also your problem, you can find the help you need in an international volunteer with professional experience in this sector, who can also train your team and increase your internal capacity.
Do you offer shelter or lunch for your beneficiaries? Have you ever thought a nutritionist might be able to evaluate and balance the menu you serve in relation to your beneficiaries’ nutritional needs?
6- Human Resources:
Also a professional in the human resources field might represent a valuable resource for your programmes. You would get a new perspective on your organigram, and training on leadership, team building and all those strategies that can help you and your team work better together.
7- Journalists and PR:
You got the application of a journalist or PR expert? Amazing, do not miss this chance to get your communication style and PR strategy evaluated. And maybe he/she will be also able to write a piece about you and get it published on a good magazine abroad.
8- Teachers and educators:
They are great to work directly with beneficiaries but not only. Thanks to your academic background and experience, they can review and improve your educational programmes. If you teach English, you can ask for a curriculum with annual goals. If you do personal development, you can ask for new workshop ideas. And so on.
9- Graphic designers:
Back to image and communication. Was your logo designed 30 years ago by a well-intentioned, but not very capable trustee? How many in your team find it very hard to design a flyer? And how many should be able to use Photoshop or InDesign but are not? A volunteer with graphic design skills might solve many of these problems.
Last but not the least, a professional we could not forget about! Have you had a photographer in the field and did not ask him/her to take some pics for you image bank? That’s a shame! It is so hard to have quality photos, that also respect the dignity of your beneficiaries and the community you work with.
And don’t forget that relying on a good image bank for your communication strategy is much better than taking pictures with your phone every day. And also much less intrusive for your beneficiaries!