What's happened now with volunteering? It's terrible.

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Andreger
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24 Apr 2015, 5:34 am

While searching any career sphere where I'd be able to use my talents I decided to spend some of my time to volunteering. I found a dozen of more or less interesting nonprofits that have goals I appreciate (help to homeless or runaway teens, teens who are victims of family violence, homeless and depressed veterans), wrote the template of letter to them and then... Then I found out that application for volunteering is now become even more complex than for real job.
I look only at official nonprofits - and some of them want to charge money for tests/application processing or so on, many require previous volunteering experience, professional references from colleagues or bosses who worked with me last three months and many other requirements depending on particular nonprofit which I hardly or even not at all can match.
To clarify the situation - I tried to find volunteering with skills in writing (journalism, research articles, email negotiations) or at least website services (development, search optimization, editing, maintenance, daily monitoring etc), I can even prove them by my own non-official projects with sites made by me and articles wrote by me. And after all that I find out these skills are not required even for volunteering if I have no formal volunteering experience, no colleagues to prove my creative writing skills or any other s**t they cooked up. I just want to apply my talents in good things without playing by overwhelming corporate rules, but I can't find any opportunity.
What should I do in such situation?



Bondkatten
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24 Apr 2015, 5:52 am

First of all that sounds insane …
But can you try to make contact with someone that volunteers at these places and ask them what they had to do? How they got started? Explain that it is important for you to help people and maybe they will give you helpful advice or so...



MollyTroubletail
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24 Apr 2015, 6:00 am

Volunteer for grass-roots organizations which are not run by corporate offices and which are not necessarily "official".



Andreger
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24 Apr 2015, 6:08 am

MollyTroubletail wrote:
Volunteer for grass-roots organizations which are not run by corporate offices and which are not necessarily "official".


I had such ideas but I found no one related in Philly/NJ area.



Andreger
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24 Apr 2015, 6:11 am

Bondkatten wrote:
First of all that sounds insane …
But can you try to make contact with someone that volunteers at these places and ask them what they had to do? How they got started? Explain that it is important for you to help people and maybe they will give you helpful advice or so...



Insane, yes. This is the most correct word.

I know how they started - either with some volunteering events from school or they finally managed to find somewhere nonprofit with less strict requirements, maybe via friends or just common internet search, and then were able to get there exp and recommendations.
Frankly I don't see any desire to go such way - I feel like those nonprofit owners virtually look at volunteers as on kind of trash which is too numerous around.
Of course it's not my first motivation but I prefer that what I'm doing is appreciated at least by those for who I'm doing it - and now it looks like they consider my and other aspiring volunteers just as resource, with no respect or appreciation.

If I'd have at least Green Card in the US I'd rather founded new nonprofit, where volunteers would be treated as equal team members and will be able to participate in actual volunteering in favor of teens and veterans rather than in another buerocratic environment but for now it's impossible - I even know nobody of like-mind3de people in US who will be interested in this, and I have no experience in nonprofit/grassroot activities, only in political campaigns.



ouinon
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24 Apr 2015, 7:05 am

This is absolutely my experience too.

The trouble is that volunteering has become like internships, an increasingly sought-after/competitive pathway, for those who can afford it, ( working for free or just bed and board ), towards well-paid professional work.

It has less and less to do with "people just wanting to help" and is more and more about getting experience and references for your CV; unpaid and undiploma'd full-time apprenticeships in social work, teaching etc. Charities and similar organisations are big business now, making money out of areas that the govt is abandoning or contracting out etc ... saving money by hiring free labour.

When I looked, in depth, into vol work last Autumn I could hardly believe the qualifications, experience, references and availability that places/orgs were demanding, and the working conditions that they expected volunteers to tolerate as well. Basically they seem to be getting people who 20 or 30 years ago would have been highly paid graduate entry workers for free.

The only kind of vol work I think I could get into now is local, low-skilled and extremely part-time ( a few hours a week at most ).



Andreger
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24 Apr 2015, 7:22 am

ouinon wrote:
This is absolutely my experience too.

The trouble is that volunteering has become like internships, an increasingly sought-after/competitive pathway, for those who can afford it, ( working for free or just bed and board ), towards well-paid professional work.

It has less and less to do with "people just wanting to help" and is more and more about getting experience and references for your CV; unpaid and undiploma'd full-time apprenticeships in social work, teaching etc. Charities and similar organisations are big business now, making money out of areas that the govt is abandoning or contracting out etc ... saving money by hiring free labour.

When I looked, in depth, into vol work last Autumn I could hardly believe the qualifications, experience, references and availability that places/orgs were demanding, and the working conditions that they expected volunteers to tolerate as well. Basically they seem to be getting people who 20 or 30 years ago would have been highly paid graduate entry workers for free.

The only kind of vol work I think I could get into now is local, low-skilled and extremely part-time ( a few hours a week at most ).


You are right, ouinon. In Europe it is the same?

Many consider volunteering as their first sidestep on the career ladder, and it seems just a few want just to volunteer for good.

I've even read new term not long ago - "charity investor", it's a businessman who invests money in nonprofit and than gets profit of it by any possible ways (adverisment, products, working hands, personal salary and many other ways).

Stupid situation. We came to th point where if you want to do good things for enybody except your friends and family you have to join corporate-like structures and adopt their rules of business.

We definitely need something to do on this point.



Densaugeo
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24 Apr 2015, 6:34 pm

Woooooow. Just, wow.

That is insane.

A few thoughts though:

Some of it might have to do with the 'volunteering with skills' bit. Non-profits might be happy to accept manual labor from anyone, but don't want just anyone fiddling with their web site.

When I had humanities classes in school, sometimes I saw career fairs going on at the humanities buildings. But they didn't call them career fairs, they called them 'career and volunteer' fairs. Some of this is probably the crap job market pushing anyone who can live off their parents to work for free.

You don't need to incorporate or do any other paperwork to start a charitable group. Incorporation is only needed if the group handles money or property, and non-profit status is only needed to give tax deductions for donations (at least in the US).



Andreger
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26 Apr 2015, 9:42 am

Densaugeo wrote:
You don't need to incorporate or do any other paperwork to start a charitable group. Incorporation is only needed if the group handles money or property, and non-profit status is only needed to give tax deductions for donations (at least in the US).


I still need to get experience in this field, understanding on what and how should be done, and to find like-minded persons. That is why I wanted at first to volunteer for existing nonprofits already working on this field.
Now I have no ideas even where to find such people. I've never seen such forums, and all sites and facebook groups I found were of one or another nonprofit.



C2V
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26 Apr 2015, 11:40 am

I totally found this, too, trying to get back into life after a long illness - learn to deal with people again, have something more current on my CV, maybe get some people to vouch for me having had no job references for years (again, the illness) and was shocked too. They want degrees to volunteer? What?
The associated list of craziness went to three professional referees, police and criminal history checks (at volunteer's expense) previous experience and qualifications in the field (even for non-technical jobs) and a minimal contracted time frame (however many days for at least six months commitment). Many volunteer positions I was interested in (animal shelters) were also well outside city limits without access to public transport, so volunteers had to drive for an hour out into industrial estates. Others specifically demanded volunteers have, and use, their own vehicles for things which could incur a lot of damage that wouldn't be covered (transporting dogs).
And employment offices act like its so easy to just go and volunteer. Hmm.


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kraftiekortie
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26 Apr 2015, 12:04 pm

Volunteer positions, sometimes, are treated like paid positions. I think it's because of a certain paranoia caused by previous miscreants.

I think, once you get affiliated with your college, it will become easier to volunteer.



Andreger
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27 Apr 2015, 1:44 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
Volunteer positions, sometimes, are treated like paid positions. I think it's because of a certain paranoia caused by previous miscreants.

I think, once you get affiliated with your college, it will become easier to volunteer.


College doesn't have such activities, I got to know. It's not the top of the list even on the level of state so they don't have developed network of clubs and charities around.

Anyway, now I think it's not a good idea. If a way to volunteering is so difficult than it seems nobody really needs it. Really, I can't see that society needs such help, instead what we all can find out is that volunteering had become just another kind of business and another way to spread corporative culture among the people.

Thanks everybody for your answers and suggestions but it seems in such circumstances one can't just volunteer but has to either join "charity corporations" or compete with them, and in fact nobody really needs voplunteer work - especially in America, one of the richest world countries.



kraftiekortie
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27 Apr 2015, 8:32 am

There is actually a considerable need for volunteering. America might be one of the richest countries--but the wealth certainly doesn't trickle down to many people. There's lots of poor people here. There's the Urban Poor and the Rural Poor. It is said that 2 million people out of the 8.5 million people who live in NYC are below the poverty line--which is a family income of about $25,000 a year.

Homeless shelters need volunteers. Soup kitchens. Hospitals.



zer0netgain
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27 Apr 2015, 11:46 am

Sadly, they set the bar high because they are still on the hook if a volunteer does damage just as if it was a regular employer.

The only edge you get as a volunteer is that they don't have to accommodate you on the payroll budget.



Andreger
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27 Apr 2015, 1:33 pm

zer0netgain wrote:
Sadly, they set the bar high because they are still on the hook if a volunteer does damage just as if it was a regular employer.

The only edge you get as a volunteer is that they don't have to accommodate you on the payroll budget.


I wonder what I can damage for them while say writing for them articles that to be moderated before publishing on the site or anywhere else by their paid editor.



elkclan
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27 Apr 2015, 3:24 pm

Let's say you write a moderated article for a non-profit, someone still has to read it, edit it and format it for the intended publication (web or paper). It has to suit their purposes. That's very resource intensive, so for them your volunteering might actually use up more than it benefits them. I'm currently seeking volunteers to write stuff for then non-profit I work for, but it's not just any old volunteer, they have to be in a particular experience at a particular place at a particular time. For the very small amount of writing that I need, I will have to spend hours and hours and hours myself as will the rest of my team, reading, sorting and publishing.

If you're doing work that requires deadlines or where your work is necessary for the flow of operations, then they need to know that you can and will do it. That takes trust, verification, etc. And the best proxy measure of what you can do is what you have done.

You don't have to have volunteering experience that exactly matches what you do, you just need to get some volunteering experience to show that you're reliable and trustworthy.

There are plenty of places to do volunteering, it's just that you may need to do some grunt work before you get to do 'nice' work like writing.