Volunteer Capital Centre (VCC)

Welcome to the Volunteer Capital Centre

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fundraising and Volunteering Abroad

“Donors don't give to institutions. They invest in ideas and people in whom they believe.”
- G.T. Smith. Volunteering abroad can be expensive to the individual; most people use their own money to cover expenses while they volunteer in a foreign country. Especially, if you want to volunteer and you are either in high school or college, with no source of income. To decrease financial burdens on yourself, you can carry out some fundraising campaigns maybe from organizations or even from other individuals. Fundraising is not necessarily an expensive process, it’s simply a process to solicit and gather money, by requesting for donations from organizations or individuals.

As an individual you may need some key principles as to how you may approach potential donors. The first thing is that; you need to ask clearly for what you want or expect. In this regard you also need to have some knowledge towards the donors’ ability and willingness to give. With this information it’s easier for the donor to spend money on you.

As a fundraiser you have to make use of the personal approach. Remember that the more personal your approach is, then the more effective it will be, asking a person for funds face to face will be better than even giving a presentation to a group of people. Using the phone or letters to ask for funds are not effective way to go about getting funding. You are always the best person to do the asking.

Whenever you approach a new or potential donor, try and understand the donors view point. A donor being an organization or an individual does not mean that they lack personal inclinations toward some causes. Donors might have personal reasons for wanting to give or build on whatever you are interested in doing while volunteering abroad. In such a case then you need to remember that in supporting your cause then they are supporting their own causes as well. The situation may also work against you, if the cause you are working towards is one that the donor does not particularly care for. In this case then you need to be careful how you approach the donor, and avoid any mention of what may a affect the donor negatively, which may lead to the donor turning you down.

Keep in mind that fundraising is a peoples business. You need to show the donor how you are helping people with your volunteer work, show them how you are going to change peoples’ lives. You can illustrate this through photos or even some statistics, but always try and focus on a specific project where you are planning to do the most good. It will be easier to excite the donor with one particular project than other several achievements that you would like to accomplish while volunteering abroad

When fundraising remember that as much as you are asking for money, you are also selling an idea to the donor. You need to convince them to contribute to your volunteer work. Remember that you are trying to persuade people and organizations to help you, so you have to give them reasons as to why their donations to you are important, and how in some way they will also be doing some good. It will help you much if you guide the donors on your expectations, you do this through asking the donor for a specific amount for a specific item or for a specific expenditure you will have during your volunteer work.

After all this is done, thank your donors for their contributions and try and tell them how you plan to use their money. You can do this through sharing correspondence with them on how your volunteer work is coming along, and if it’s possible you can report back to them specifically how you have used the money they gave to you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Volunteering Abroad: Corporate Social Responsibility

More and more corporations are starting to engage in international volunteer programs, they are doing this as part of their corporate social responsibility efforts. Corporate responsibility helps to align organizations business operations with social values. Volunteering abroad as a part of your corporate social responsibility will help your organization address expectations of some of your other stake holders, including your investors and employees. It therefore does not only help you to relate to the local people, who are your potential customers and clients but it also helps you to get more in touch with and retain your employees. While at the same time making sure you are meeting your social responsibility responsibilities, keeping your investors and shareholders happy.

Corporate social responsibility helps to strengthen your corporate reputation; it helps your organization show that you care for the community at large. This not only being the members of the community in your home town but with others from different places around the world. It shows that you can exercise accountable business practices, and in the process help your corporate identity grow as a contributor to global well being, not just your own.

With regard to your share holders and investors, corporate social responsibility helps them to see that your organization has good ethics and governance. They will be at ease that the company they hold a stake in has a good management team, who encourage and have good policies that they implement in the running of the organization. They will also see that the company is responsive to the needs and values of all its stake holders. In addition, they will see that your company has a good human resource practices, committed toward employment equity, retention and attraction of new and competent workers.

The community you choose to carry out your corporate responsibility obligations will also benefit from your actions. A good example is a company that is in the business of manufacturing and distributing sanitary pads. It gives some of its employees some days off and takes them to a developing country, where a good number of girls miss half their school days as a result of their periods. Such a community will benefit by ensuring that all members of the community are educated and in the future create a loyal market base for their product that will probably last for generations within the community.

Your employees will feel like they are part of a fully functional family, rather than corporate machinery that does not have social values. Having your employees travel abroad and work together to help a needy community, will help them to develop stronger bonds with each other and therefore work well if not better with each other. A sense of teamwork and appreciation for their jobs will develop between them; it will also help to demolish some barriers between employer and employees.
Your organization can take a number of approaches to social responsibility abroad; it can be as simple as an investment in a society like offering a scholarship to bright members of the society. You can also help to develop a community in terms of infrastructure, like building a school or hospital. An organization can also go with the more common method of making charitable donations towards a certain community towards a worthy cause. All these methods can in turn work in favor of your organization by generating good publicity, and visibility, they can therefore work as a marketing exercise for the organization.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Volunteer Visa in Ecuador

Obtaining a volunteer visa is one of the sure ways to avoid getting fined or deported for not having the proper paper work to be in a country. For instance in Ecuador if you over stay say with a tourist visa, even for one day then you stand a chance of paying an outright $ 200 in fines, and if you stay longer then you may pay up to $ 2000. So to be on the safe side for a volunteer you need to make sure you apply for the proper volunteer visa, to avoid these problems.

When planning to go for volunteer work in Ecuador, have in mind that each embassy or consulate around the world has its own set of requirements for procuring a visa. Check with the embassy or consulate closest to you for accurate information applicable to your situation. Anyone can come into Ecuador by acquiring a tourist visa, but once you have obtained this visa you cannot apply for any other kind of visa while in the country, you will have to go back to your home country and apply for the volunteer visa there. However, you can apply for a volunteer visa in the country, if you did not enter the country with a tourist visa already in place, you can do this with the help of the organization you are working with.

The proper visa for a volunteer in Ecuador is called the religious and volunteer visa. To apply for this visa it will cost you application fees of $ 30 and Visa fees of 150$. To obtain this visa you will require the following; "AplicaciĆ³n de Visa", that is a Visa Application completed and signed, a "Certificado de VisaciĆ³n" completed and signed, your Passport, valid for at least six months, Two photos passport size with a white background, a doctor's certificate and HIV test, indicating that the person does not have any communicable diseases, you will need a Police certificate indicating that there is no criminal record on you, a letter from Legal Representatives of the organization requesting that the volunteer/missionary be admitted to Ecuador, a Copy of the Decree issued by the Ecuadorian government authorizing the organization to operate in Ecuador, a Copy of the appointment of the Legal representative of the entity duly registered and authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ecuador, a Copy of the bylaws of the host organization in Ecuador , an Affidavit from the host organization or person, assuming the responsibility for expenses incurred by the volunteer/missionary as result of abandoning the country or deportation, duly legalized, an Affidavit from the foreigner certifying to render services at no charge and finally a Guarantee from the sponsoring entity to support financially the foreigner during his/her stay in Ecuador.

Once you get your visa then you may need to register in the country and obtain a volunteer identity card known as a Censo. If you got your volunteer visa at your home country then you will need to register it at the immigration office at Quito. A censo is mandatory for anyone staying in the country for more than 6 months.
Once you have all the above requirements in place then you will be free to enjoy your volunteer experience in Ecuador, without any hitches

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Volunteer Visa in India

India has many new visa regulations, the most recent having been released in 2010. Most countries are not strict when it comes to volunteer visas, and in some cases you may be allowed to use a tourist or entry visa to do your volunteer work for a short period of time as you make preparations to get the right documents for your volunteer work.

For an Indian visa it is required that you apply for one from your home country only, it is not allowed to apply for one after your arrival in India, or even from an Indian high commission office in a country that is not your home country. All foreign nationals require a visa to enter India. The only exceptions are nationals of Nepal and Bhutan who can enter India without a visa.

It is mandatory for application for a visa to India be completed online. Once the application has been completed online you must download & print all form/s, read and complete Checklist. Visa fees once deposited cannot be refunded even if requested service is modified or not granted. Validity of the visa begins from the date of issue. One more thing to note is that you may not apply for an Indian visa directly from the Indian high commission office, especially if in the UK or USA. You have to use VFS global if in the UK as they handle all their visa applications. Similar to this is Travis Outsourcing in the US.

For a volunteer in India you will need to apply for an employment visa, which covers both employment and volunteer work. However first you must ensure that you are going to work with a registered NGO in India. The charge for a 6 month employment visa in the U.K is £285, while it costs £310 for a one year visa. It is much cheaper for U.S nationals as it will cost them £85 for a 6 month visa or £110 for a one year employment visa.

To get an employment visa to India then you need to ensure that you have a Passport valid for a minimum of 190 days, with at least 2 blank pages, the Visa Fee, two recent identical passport-sized photographs (45 mm x 35 mm in size), a Printed copy of the completed online Application Form, an Invitation letters from the nonprofit organization you are going to be working with, and a Copy of a recent bank statement showing you can support yourself while in India. Also remember to carry with you your vaccination certificates if you are coming from a yellow fever high risk country, or have been to one in the recent past. Also ensure that all the other requirements you need to volunteer are in place, these include a Police Check, deposit, CV and Passport Style Photo, so that you can start volunteering as soon as you arrive.

Most working visas have a requirement that you register once you have arrived in India. To find out if your visa is one of those, then you need to check your visa carefully and try to identify a green stamp on the bottom left side, which will inform you that you need to register. To register you have to go to the local FRO Office (Foreigners Registration Office). You have to do this within 14 days of arrival in India.

When heading to the registration office you will need to bring along three standard passport photos, a Lease Agreement f or a letter and Xerox copy of an electricity bill from the house owners that you will be staying with, the letter should state that you are living at the address on the electricity bill. You will also need a color photo copy of your visa and arrival stamp, a color photo copy of the Picture page in your passport, a copy of the invitation letters from the organization you plan to work with, along with a copy of the license of the organization, and a letter from the organization that states that you have started volunteering, and finally 100 Rs registration fee.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Volunteer Visa in Ghana

Going abroad to another country to do volunteer work is a humble undertaking for the individual. Your volunteer work in another country needs to be legal in order to avoid any complications that may lead to your stay during your volunteer experience getting cut short by the government. There are incidents of volunteers being caught without the proper paper work; being deported and even prosecuted to face jail time. These incidents are becoming more and more prominent. You therefore need to ensure that all your documents while in a foreign country are in order while you volunteer there. Let us look at getting the volunteer visa in Ghana.

Where as in some African countries it is possible to purchase a tourist visa upon your arrival at the airport, this is not the case in Ghana. Ghanaian officials require volunteers to have applied for a visa in their home countries, before they depart, this can be done at any Ghanaian embassy or consular office in your country of origin, but, where Ghana has no consular office, then you may apply for a visa at the nearest consular office to your country, that has been authorized by the government of Ghana.

For your volunteer work to be totally legal then you should have a volunteer visa, but most Ghana officials will advice you that you only need a tourist visa, to be a foreign volunteer in Ghana. There is an exception here for the reason that technically, you are not permitted to work on tourist visas, but because you are not undertaking paid work, it is tolerated.

Other than purchasing your visa before arrival in Ghana, you also need to make sure that your passport is valid for more than six months, before you depart to Ghana. Also remember that your tourist visa is only valid for three months in Ghana, once applied for. You should therefore try and make your application at an appropriate time, that being at least one month before your date of departure to Ghana. Of course this will mean that you will only have two months left on your visa, upon your arrival at the airport, but this should not worry or frustrate you; because your visa can be extended every 2 months for as long as you like for a cost of about $5 US per month.

When applying for your volunteer visa to Ghana, then under the section Purpose of Journey, tick the box that states voluntary work. If the visa application form you download does not have volunteering as an option under the Purpose of Journey section, then you should select holiday/tourism and make a note where possible that you are volunteering. When you have formally applied to the organization you are planning to volunteer with, then you will get a letter of invitation from the organization, which will form part of your visa application. It is also a requirement of the visa application that you have a return ticket, so you need to have all this in mind before departure to Ghana.

In conclusion therefore, when applying for a visa to volunteer in Ghana you need to have downloaded and completely filled a visa application form with two or four passport size photographs (UK requires two and US requires four), have a valid passport with more than six months too expiry before departure, have a letter of invitation from the organization you are planning to work for or with, and a yellow fever vaccination, which must be shown at the Ghanaian airport upon arrival. However you need to remember that the yellow fever vaccine takes effect ten days after vaccination has taken place, but it may last for up to ten years after vaccination. Your tourism visa fee which starts from 50$.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Volunteer abroad work permit in Kenya

When planning to do volunteer work anywhere around the world you need to ensure that whatever you are doing is legal. For it to be legal then you need to obtain the required visa and work permit. The requirement here is confirming the reason and duration of your visit and in some cases where required, gives proof of your financial means in the country, for that duration. We will look at permit and visa requirements within different parts of the world, looking at a single country at a time.

We start off with Kenya in Africa. A volunteer here will first need to obtain a tourist visa, for 50$ upon arrival at the airport, unless you may have attained visa previously before arrival. An application for a Kenyan tourist visa requires that the applicant submit a valid passport, as well as a completed visa application form, a recent passport-sized photo and their travel itinerary.

There are two ways of getting the volunteer work permits. You can apply for the volunteer permit directly to immigration department which is quite costly or getting the work permit via an NGO that you are planning to work with or already work for; this is the cheaper and easier option for a volunteer to take. Appropriate authorization can be obtained by the NGO you are working with through liaising with the Director of Immigration Services prior to engagement in your volunteer work.

To get the work permit or a volunteer visa, then one needs to have; an original passport valid for at least six months, signed in designated place with at least 2 blank pages, an online registration form, a recent passport sized photo, not scanned, which should be 35mm x 45mm with a white or light colored background, neutral expression with mouth closed and no hats or sunglasses. You further need a copy of your travel itinerary with the letter head of a travel company, an invite letter from the volunteer organization in Kenya, with their letter head on it, and a service order form obtained from the embassy.

You can obtain a work permit in Kenya for one to three years; it will take you at least two months to obtain a confirmation of either acceptance or denial of your application. After application, a letter will be sent to the organization you are working with for informing you on how to finalize the arrangements for your permit, if your application has been accepted. When you are going to do this you need to bring with you, your approval letter, your passport, and 2000 KES per year fee for the permit. Your permit will then be issued to you within two weeks, from the immigration office; you will need to bring your receipt with you to pick it up. Along with this you will also be required to obtain an alien registration card; this will cost you 1000 ksh per year, and will be ready for you to pick up within 4 to 6 weeks

Seeing as the above might be a bit of a long process, volunteers who wish not stay longer than three months in Kenya, may just make use of their tourist visa, which is automatically stamped for 30 days, but can be extended to up to 90 days if requested, with no extra cost to the volunteer. However if you plan to stay longer then you must apply for an extended visa. At this point you may have to apply for your alien registration card at the same time, this will cost you 2200, for both the documents, and will extend your stay for another 90 days. If at the end off six months you have not come to the end of your stay in the country then you may need to leave and start the process all over again, by coming back into the country. You can do this by simply exiting to Uganda or Tanzania, and coming back.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Volunteering abroad in a Hindu community

"The sun and the moon, the Lord created like the suns and the moons of previous cycles." Religion is the driving force behind many communities; it is common practice for people to have a prayer meeting before they begin any meaning full project in their lives. In some cases we find people who say a word of prayer before they embark on a journey, in these prayers many people simply ask for blessings from the God they believe in, they believe that without Gods’ blessings their project may be doomed to failure. With this beliefs come a strong feeling that if anything happens that acts as a bad omen, or that is contrary to religious practices, then the work that these people have put their time and energy into will fail. A volunteer needs to remember this, wherever they choose to carry out their volunteer work. Understanding the locals’ religion and respecting it may be the line that separates success or failure of their volunteer work in the community.

The origins of Hinduism can be traced to the Indus Valley civilization. The basis of Hinduism is the belief in the unity of everything. This totality is called Brahman. They believe that the purpose of life is to realize that we are part of God and by doing so we can leave this plane of existence and rejoin with God. This enlightenment can only be achieved by going through cycles of birth, life and death known as Samsara. One's progress towards enlightenment is measured by his karma. This is the accumulation of all one's good and bad deeds and this determines the person's next reincarnation. Selfless acts and thoughts as well as devotion to God help one to be reborn at a higher level. Bad acts and thoughts will cause one to be born at a lower level, as a person or even an animal.

Hindus follow a strict caste system which determines the standing of each person. The caste one is born into is the result of the karma from their previous life. Only members of the highest caste, the Brahmins, may perform the Hindu religious rituals and hold positions of authority within the temples. They also believe that members of different castes cannot inter marry, or hold the same positions socially and economically. As a volunteer you need to remember that members of the Hindu community to not take lightly also to intermarriage between themselves and members form outside the community, you therefore should tread carefully in social circles with members of the opposite sex.

With regards to dieting in a Hindu community, a volunteer needs to remember that In general, Hindus avoid all foods which are thought to inhibit physical and spiritual development. Although eating meat is not explicitly prohibited, many Hindus are vegetarian because they adhere to the concept of Ahimsa, non-violence as applied to foods. Beef is, which never eaten because the cow is considered sacred, and pork is often avoided. Some foods are prohibited depending on what regions the locals come from.

The concept is that some foods promote purity of the body, mind, and spirit also influences Hindu dietary practices. Some foods are considered innately pure, such as the products from cows (especially milk, yogurt, and ghee), thus foods which aren't as pure can be improved by preparation with these pure foods, such as frying in ghee. Other foods are considered inherently polluted (such as alcohol and beef) and can never be made pure.

Your best weapon as a foreign volunteer would be observation and where you are at a loss, get a local who you can ask for advice on any issues you may find confusing or that you feel may be causing any tension between you and the locals