We are convinced that volunteering is a way of transforming volunteers and society. After more than 10 years promoting the practice of corporate volunteering, we have designed, planned and implemented over 100 volunteer programs in Peru’s main companies. Along the way, we have developed a methodology that catalyzes the transformative potential of volunteering, and therefore maximizes the results of its practice.
The transformational corporate volunteer is a management model that generates entrepreneurial leaders, feeds the pride of belonging, spreads a high level of commitment among employees, and has a significant impacts on society.
The idea is simple. If a volunteer finds volunteering opportunities suited to his level of commitment and interest, he will have the conditions to grow with his practice. After a few months, this process will activate his transforming role and strengthen citizenship. When managing a program with this methodology, more volunteers will assume leadership roles and some of them will undertake outstanding initiatives.
The model has three ways to catalyze the transformation process of volunteering:
- Creating a pathway, a sort of career line for volunteers
- Managing critical aspects that will trigger the willingness of the volunteers to move forward in that path.
- Using marketing strategies to identify high potential volunteers and to help them find easier the opportunities they need to grow.
Through our experience organizing volunteer programs, we realized that volunteers come in all shapes and sizes.
a) There are those who assist in specific activities during a weekend, such as improving school infrastructure.
b) There are volunteers who contribute with their skills and talents to an organization or a social project for a long period of time.
c) There are those who take the initiative to design and execute their own projects.
d) Finally, there are those who go beyond the parameters of a project, they are so committed that they become the drivers of change. Those ones, we call them “agents of change.”
In many cases, a previous experience of volunteers is their participation and contribution in campaigns to collect goods and / or money. This type of activity often serves as the entrance door to volunteering.
If a program has volunteering opportunities for each of these volunteers, this portfolio of activities becomes a path which gradually they begin to walk.
Below are some critical issues that are managed with this methodology:
a) Assist volunteers to accelerate the learning process. Volunteers need to reflect on their experiences and draw their own conclusions. That generates the right conditions to be willing to commit more. For example, if a volunteer builds a house for a family, talks to theme and finds out that beyond their housing problems, they are facing the lack of employment or malnutrition; that volunteer who reflects will be more committed to participate in a project to solve these problems in the community.
b) Changing patterns of what is possible (attitudes). This is breaking paradigms. A volunteer who gives his time to help in a one-day event, maybe thinks he is not able to approach the community, define a problem and design his own solution. However, if he is given the example of a colleague who has undertaken a project which has a significant impact, then he begins to wonder: why can’t I?
c) Relating the volunteer identity with the activity. As managers we must motivate volunteers to participate in activities that are associated with their identity. For example, someone who loves to run will be more interested in leading a project to promote this sport in adolescents with limited access to opportunities or in a vulnerable situation.
Due to family formation or because of the experiences they have had throughout their lives, some volunteers are ready to become great leaders. A volunteer manager should identify and work closely with them, so we help them find what they need to take that big jump.
The team of Asociación Trabajo Voluntario believes there are potential entrepreneurial leaders and change agents everywhere, they just need to be awakened. Through its transformational volunteering model they expect to catalyze change in a larger scale.
Written by Jaime Ulloa, Executive Presdent at Asociación Trabajo Voluntario.