When it comes to Family Volunteering tasks there is a certain ingredient that plays a major role in creating a successful experience for the volunteers involved – DIVERSITY!
Not only the age differences and even the cultural backgrounds can play an important role in how organizations choose to structure their volunteering program, but also the program in itself can take a lot of different forms and tackle very different needs in a community. The duration of the volunteering program can also impact the way the tasks are being structured and thought out!
In the process of establishing the list of tasks for volunteers, organizations must pay attention to the fact that family volunteering may not be suitable for a ”one-size-fits-most” approach, but rather invites the organization to navigate the differences in order to maximize the impact and find those elements that can bring more value!
When it comes to these differences, which we invite you to see as potential for creating volunteering programs that truly make a difference in a community, we can look at diversity from more perspectives!
Family diversity – If for example you have a standard volunteering program, the tasks you set can easily be divided into categories. Even if the volunteers have different ages, there are departments that structure the tasks and the interaction with volunteers and these are somehow standard. When it comes to family volunteering, organizations must pay attention to creating and allocating tasks in such a way that they will be suitable for different age groups. The complexity of the tasks must be correlated with the abilities those certain volunteers have or abilities that they can start to create. The organization must find ways in which every family member can feel they can contribute to the end goal. This factor plays a major role in successful family volunteering programs – we want to empower each and every volunteer to see that their contribution matters and it can certainly make an impact!
Cultural diversity – Family volunteering programs can be an excellent context for bringing families of different backgrounds and nationalities together! Besides the effect it has on strengthening the community bonds, it can become a safe and engaging space for people to get familiar with other cultures! Different cultures will bring different perspectives, which can only enrich the solutions you find for your community. More than that, organizations should take this into consideration when crafting the family volunteering program and prepare for creating an inclusive environment that recognizes the unique attributes and contributions of every volunteer! This will enhance the full participation of volunteers and it will make them feel valued for their particular point of view and their involvement.
Involvement diversity – One of the main benefits family volunteering programs have is their ability to create diverse ways of contributing. The classic volunteering programs usually have a narrow set of opportunities to get involved – they are either created for adolescents or elderly and even if these particular age groups want to get involved, they are restricted by their abilities or by the ways the tasks were set out from the beginning. Family volunteering stimulates organizations to be more inclusive with their tasks and challenges them to follow a basic principle in their activity – volunteering can be for everyone. Starting with this perspective in mind, organizations can get the most out of a volunteering program and can demonstrate that, when it comes to social involvement, everybody is welcome and everybody can have a small, but important contribution in their community. This can also be a new “market”, so to speak, that organizations can tap into. There are categories of people that would like to be more active in their community and don’t have a context in which they can do so. Organizations that choose to involve them will widen their volunteer base and will create more impact overall.
Community needs diversity – There are so many areas in which a community can be changed for the better! This framework can be applied to a wide variety of community needs – family volunteering can be about providing food for those in need, engaging and spending quality time with vulnerable groups, making your city cleaner and so much more. The possibilities are endless! Family volunteering programs can tackle a lot of different areas and can highlight the fact that no matter what age you are or what your interests are, you can find a proper volunteering environment that will give you the space to contribute. What is even more exciting is that if you have a habit as an organization to consult your volunteers on what issues they want to address, with family volunteers you will have a wider range of issues brought to your attention, so a higher chance to produce meaningful impact in the community. The families who volunteer with you are members of this community, they can be much more informed about the diverse community needs and can bring in a very valuable perspective with their double role – of community members and active citizens – so they are certainly a voice to be heard.
Article written by Mădălina Boțu, Pro Vobis