The first day of June sees the launch of Volunteers’ Week which celebrates the contribution made by millions of volunteers across the UK. It is a time to recognise volunteers for their efforts towards good causes across the country and also further afield. Every small contribution makes a difference!
There are many types of volunteering on offer, and for those that have chosen to participate in a programme that involves travelling overseas, the volunteer journey begins long before the volunteering part takes place with things to consider like fundraising to make it all possible. We believe Volunteers’ Week is a perfect opportunity to celebrate everything that volunteering encompasses from inspiring fundraising stories to the volunteer work itself.
At African Adventures, we will see seven school and sports club charity groups travelling to Ghana, Kenya and Zanzibar during June to volunteer. All of these will be helping to make a difference, contributing to the further development of our partner projects and providing more children who are living in deprived areas with access to a high standard of education.
If you have signed up to volunteer and are currently planning ahead for your volunteering programme, here are some useful tips on how you can make the most of Volunteers’ Week.
- Start blogging and get social
If you are a keen writer or social media enthusiast, producing a blog and sharing social updates are good ways for you to document your experiences and to keep memories to look back on. It is advantageous to start your blog at the beginning of your volunteer journey so that you can raise awareness of what you will be doing and give your reasons behind it straightaway. Starting early also allows you to promote and highlight your fundraising successes and the challenges you face along the way. This is not only beneficial to you but can help readers who might be looking for guidance and some inspiration with their own fundraising and volunteering experiences.
On social media, remember to use the hashtag #VolunteersWeek when posting about your volunteering and fundraising activities. NCVO is also encouraging volunteers to contribute their stories by using the hashtag #ivolunteer and there is a poster you can print off and take your photo with to show why you volunteer.
- Get fundraising and set an achievable goal
As soon as you have signed up to volunteer, setting up a fundraising page is a good incentive to get you motivated from the start in working towards your fundraising goal – make sure to make the most of this during Volunteers’ Week. From the beginning, you will know how much money you will need to cover the cost of your volunteering programme and you can make the decision on how much you think you will need to fundraise each month to reach this target.
With an online fundraising page you can tell more people about your cause and what the money they are donating will be contributing towards. Furthermore, if you link the volunteer company to your fundraising page with a description about what they do, this will help boost your fundraising even more because your donors will be able to access information about your volunteering programme and how their money will make a difference. With the help of social media, you can share your fundraising page and give updates as you reach interim targets. Make sure to space these updates out so that you are not oversharing and putting people off supporting you.
- Make the most of relationships and networking
When preparing for your volunteering programme, take every chance to share details of your volunteering exploits with people and ask for their support. This week is the perfect time to get out there and maximise opportunities. If you belong to a local community group, for example, take the opportunity to share details of your fundraising events with the group and invite them to attend. You might even like to give a talk about the volunteering work you will be doing to encourage people to become more actively involved. If you have connections with local companies, write to them with information about what you are doing and they might be willing to sponsor you, especially if you can offer them something in return. For instance, if you offer to print their logo on your volunteering, they will benefit from exposure each time you wear it.
Keeping your fundraising and volunteering programme in the forefront of your mind will encourage you to share information with the people you see every day like your family and friends. Talking to them about your fundraising ventures will help you gain additional support and the easier you will find it.
- Be resourceful
Let Volunteers’ Week give you the opportunity to do your research and read up about other people’s volunteering experiences to get some useful knowledge and advice. With volunteering in the spotlight this week, the Internet is your oyster as there are likely to be newly published articles on volunteering websites such as Go Abroad for some good background reading. The best place to find the latest on what other volunteers are doing is on social media by searching the hashtag #VolunteersWeek. It is also a good idea to speak to other people who have been and volunteered before you in order to gain some inspiration, as they will be able to tell you what they learnt from their experience and give you some helpful tips. When fundraising, work to your strengths and turn your talents into donations. For example, if you like crafting things, you can make items to sell to raise money for your volunteering project. Most importantly, make it fun!
We would like to wish everyone a brilliant Volunteers’ Week and we look forward to sharing your volunteering stories. Please do not hesitate to give us a shout if you need help with anything. Thank you to all of you for helping to make a difference and good luck!