Traveling to new locations sounds like a thrilling idea but doing it for a purpose like volunteering makes the experience even better. Thousands of foreign tourists volunteer during their travels to experience a soul-enriching adventure during their trips. This has increased the popularity of voluntourism or volunteering abroad programs. However, as good as the idea sounds, this popularity has also enabled people with malicious intent to scam foreign tourists for their money with voluntourism traps. Hence, be careful about choosing your volunteer work and research before indulging in Ethical volunteering.
But, how exactly do you notice the red flags in Ethical Volunteering and is there any way you can avoid it? Let’s understand it here.
How Do You Choose An Organization To Volunteer?
It is important to understand the fine line between traditional tourism and an impact driven volunteering program. You don’t want to waste your time on something which does not have an end goal. But, how to choose an organization which fits your idea of voluntourism. When you are looking for an organization to volunteer with, consider a few critical aspects. They include:
- The cause supported by the organization and their objectives
- The tasks required of you and your roles as a volunteer
- The fees you must pay and how that money will be utilized
- The organization’s selection criteria for new volunteers
- Accommodation offered to you by the organization
- Number of fellow volunteers along with you
- Organization headquarters and branch locations
- Volunteer activities during a typical day of work
This information will help you determine how genuine the organization is, you will understand your role and get a clarity on how your volunteer work will affect the cause and objectives of the organization you have decided to volunteer for.
How Do You Choose A Volunteering Activity?
Your choice of volunteering activity should largely depend on your skills and expertise. At Novoto, skill based volunteering is promoted, but at the same time, if you are passionate about something in your life, even that is prioritized as it will have a bearing on the volunteering organization. Apart from this, you must have some knowledge about the cause or the organization you wish to volunteer for in order to be able to make positive contributions to their Ethical volunteering strategy. Also, it would be best if you have a proper idea of what you wish to achieve from the volunteering program, as this will help you determine your goals and also, decide the organization you want to work with.
Stay Away From Exploitative Animal Sanctuaries And Orphanages
Fake animal sanctuaries and orphanages are the most common voluntourism traps. These places are usually set up to invite people with a passion for helping animals or underprivileged children and scam them of their money. Such a fake ‘Organization’ would offer help to local wildlife reserves to protect their animals. However, the scammers simply use the animals as a front to attract rich volunteers looking to engage in Ethical volunteering.
The situation is quite similar with orphanages, where these scammers will set up a fake orphanage with poor children. The children or their parents are often promised payment or work. And after the rich volunteers pay large sums of money, the children are returned to their parents or let off without any payment. Even some authentic orphanages indulge in such malpractices where the children are purposely kept in dire conditions and underfed to gain sympathy from visitors. Any donations made by these visitors are then pocketed by the people running the orphanages, and the children continue to be deprived. Novoto believes in skill based education, which is passed on from local teachers to students. Instead of monetary benefits, focus on skill development to create a sustainable impact.
How To Determine A Legitimate Organization?
Any legitimate organization will require you to fulfill certain criteria if you wish to become a volunteer with them. These criteria may include:
Your complete CV or resume
Police verification and background check
Interview over the phone or by video
Asking the volunteer to learn from a local teacher and a certificate to prove that.
Minimum number of hours or days to dedicate during the volunteer work
By Ethical volunteering definition, you are required to fulfill genuine criteria to be eligible to volunteer for a genuine organization. If you follow these steps, then the organization you wish to volunteer for is legitimate.
Connect With Your Fellow Volunteers
Most organizations have a directory of past volunteers. They often use these directories to attract new volunteers. If you are genuinely interested in volunteering for a particular organization, find out more about their past volunteers and connect with them. You can also contact their current volunteers and learn about the organization’s work or what they expect from the volunteers. This will help you get an idea of where your money will be used or how much work you will be expected to put in during your volunteer work. Like In Novoto, the maximum share of the money goes into volunteer related costs and project development costs.
At the same time, these past and present volunteers can also help you with valuable Ethical volunteering tips that will enable you to make the best out of the experience. However, it would be best to remember that you need to focus more on what contributions you can make towards your chosen cause and less on what your actions can do for you. At the same time, avoid getting too caught up in the excitement and enthusiasm as that could easily make matters worse for the organization to carry out its functions in an orderly manner. Follow the instructions given to you and you will surely be able to make a difference!