According to the UN, about 1.8 billion people of the total world population between the age of 10-24 is youth, i.e. it forms the largest generation of youth. And thus the role of advocating youth for and executing changes seems to be really crucial in bringing a discrete change for the future.
Sustainable Development Goals also known as SDGs call for long-term attitude and behavioural changes. Volunteers of NGOs facilitate changes in mindsets by raising awareness or help in bridging differences by inspiring others.
Achieving or working towards the accomplishment of sustainable development goals has been highly distressing and the active participation of the youth is sought for making such advancements. In a couple of countries, especially developing and underdeveloped ones, several youths come across a number of difficulties in terms of SDGs. These issues related to sustainable development as but are not limited to the lack of access to education, healthcare, and employment, eventually, take a bigger shape and create even more structural socio-economic problems in the future. And these issues can be relatively solved in the best and easiest way through involvement in volunteering activities.
Non-Government Organisations, widely known NGOs set up volunteering programs and those who share the same interest can come and join to promote the work. Volunteering for NGOs proves to be beneficial for the youth and society through the expansion of missions, objectives, innovative ideas, and enhanced public and community support.
All this occurs when a young mind takes advantage in terms of their increase of self-development in every sphere. This includes, but is not limited to empathy, self-esteem, gaining new social skills, improved and enhanced mental and physical health, piqued interest in learning new things and other psychological and intellectual developments in one.
The UN itself has labelled volunteering groups as one of the stakeholders to achieve SDGs and works on fostering its national planning and implementation.
Volunteering for NGOs for accomplishing sustainable development serves as a prominent fuel for social development. However, despite having a number of self-gaining benefits, a considerable amount of young people are still unaware of such volunteering activities and this could also be due to their lack of information, lack of time, lack of interest, and so forth.
The significance and effectiveness of volunteerism could be proven by the fact that countries that have a higher number of volunteers are doing more better in economic and social terms. Several aspects of the society that drive poverty could also be gradually resolved from the act of volunteering, such as education, health, employment, and livelihoods, which are the key objectives of the SDGs leading to a peaceful existence in society.
NGOs in India, over the years, ever since the country claimed its independence has been working tirelessly for improving the lives of the less privileged or disadvantaged in social terms.
A volunteer is an individual who of his own free will (voluntarily) offers his/her time, skills, services, resources, and expertise to others. And, volunteering can be described as an unpaid activity (mostly) where the volunteer devotes him/herself to the accomplishment of the activity.
And the act of volunteering for an NGO is a serious commitment that glues a community together. Volunteering allows you to offer your best services and resources to connect to your community to make it a better place. Serving as a two-way service volunteering allows you to help others and in the process help yourself as well. When you start investing and spending your time and energy in volunteering, you invest an equal amount in yourself own yourself as well. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you to meet new people, make new friends, expand your network, learn new things, enhance your self-esteem and boost your social skills, ultimately you’ll make every second of your count. It sure is fun as you can wear your hearts on your sleeves and contribute the needful for a greater cause.
Here are 5 ways how youth volunteering for NGOs can bring a sustainable change in society –
#1: Critical thinkers – Youth involves curiosities and answering such unresolved parts will push a young mind to think about a particular matter in a more structured way.
As the youth of society first-hand experiences and becomes acquainted with all the odds and evens of the occurring issues in the society, they become more aware and challenge the existing contradictions and biases to bring forth a new change.
#2: Social Change Makers – Active youth has the power to act immediately and mobilise others in need. Today’s youth has broader connectivity and access to social media with the help of which they can address multiple even at the same time or one single issue in several different approaches.
Acting without wasting time allows and welcomes new appreciated changes in society to help the less privileged.
#3: Modern Innovators – Being a fresh storehouse of ideas, it is obvious that young people have fresh perspectives, direct knowledge, relatively deeper insights and more accessibility as compared to adults. Youth understands and addresses the problems they face and can offer new ideas and alternative solutions firmly.
Accumulating and acting up new ideas and thoughts allow them to reach out to a more and larger section of people and with the help of various social media platforms, they ensure that their voices and petitions are heard.
#4: Effective Communication – Young people can communicate more openly and hence can discuss the development agenda with their peers and communities at the local level, as well as across countries and regions freely. Such effective communication allows to establish an open-end discussion.
#5: Better Leaders – Young people are empowered with knowledge and when they direct this knowledge with proper needful thoughts, it can make them exceptional leaders. Youth can easily build networks to support and contribute to greater social causes, thus developing better leadership skills among young people.
Also, here are 7 things you should keep in mind while finding a sustainable volunteering program for yourself –
#1. What work will you be doing?
Once you decide to volunteer for any organisation, you must have complete knowledge of what your work and are expected to perform. You must know every single detail including what sort of work you will be doing, how many hours a day and how many days a week, and with which host organisation and when the program is expected to start.
A big NO NO to volunteering happens when you end up doing what you didn’t have a single clue about.
#2. Who is the organisation partnered with?
If the volunteering program is to begin in collaboration with some local partner, do your research and find out who the partner organisation is. what is their goal? how do their projects align? Is anyone from that local organisation in connection with the day-to-day management of your project? What is the project value?
#3. What is the time frame of the program?
A well-structured and well-planned program should have a clear time frame. You must acquire a thorough knowledge of when the program is scheduled to end. How long is it going to take to complete a task? Are other volunteers sent or is the placement simply ended?
Even you can determine and plan your own personal work on the basis of such data.
#4. Does the organisation have the proper safety and safeguarding policies?
All volunteer organisations must ensure the proper safety of their workers and thus they all must have a safeguarding policy for children and vulnerable adults, whether they work with them or not, or are related in any way with them or not and programs that work directly with children must include child protection training for volunteers.
In a similar way, when working with and for animals, the same protocols must be strictly followed and adhered to.
#5. What training and support can you receive?
Organisations offer different levels of training and support to their members and volunteers. Volunteering jobs need new skills and gaining insight and complete knowledge, and thus, you need to be fully aware of your training period.
#6. What financial contributions is the organisation going to make for this volunteer program?
Volunteer programs require funds as well as labour, therefore ensure you know where your money is going, and be persistent about getting a clear figure, not just a rough percentage of profits.
#7. Why are you volunteering?
Yes, unless you have a particular motive or purpose the entire process is futile. Properly analyse all the intentions for your volunteering and begin your volunteering to make every moment count.
Youth volunteering should be practised and encouraged more as it helps to build a better community because when teens and youths vouch to offer the help they transform society and themselves as individuals too.
In other words, by encouraging altruistic behaviours in our communities youth, we all are benefitted as a whole.
A few direct impacts of youth volunteering could be outlined hereunder –
#1. Develop transferable skills:
Youth who indulge themselves and regularly practice skills like collaboration and problem solving are more likely to succeed in life in the spheres of academics, the workplace, and their personal lives. When one involves in any sort of civil work or activity, they open up to themselves and to the challenges, they learn new things and skills and develop along the way.
Reinforce social capital:
As we exist in a society where we depend on each other to function, building a “social capital” is of critical need. Youths involved in volunteering are capable of building relationships and strengthening their support network better. Good social capital will strengthen trust and a sense of community and is vital to upward mobility.
Research has shown that being involved in or practising the act of volunteering increases the likelihood of finding employment. As a result, those between the age of 16-24 included in volunteering activities get favourable benefits while seeking employment.
Additionally, volunteering is an effective avenue for those college-going youth who are aspiring to secure employment, as employers are 82% more likely to choose a candidate with volunteering experience and 85% more likely to overlook resume flaws when volunteer work is present.
#2. Bring out a real change:
Youth volunteering gives realistic opportunities to work through real challenges and make meaningful changes and transformations. These experiences encourage teenagers and children to confront moral dilemmas and develop rational decisiveness among them. Young volunteers are encouraged to investigate solutions, and employ innovative thinking, eventually in the process they establish a cognitive connection between effort and positive outcomes. Studies have also shown that young people who volunteer regularly develop a civic identity, as leaders and changemakers, and therefore become more socially and politically active adults helping to run and maintain a healthy society.
#3. Facilitate respect:
As children grow, they learn from their environment and develop a more refined sense of self-awareness and an awareness of others, thus building the foundation of their nature. The job of volunteering requires the quality in one that they must put their own needs aside to address the needs of others. To be precise, the role of a volunteer must be selfless, and children who do so, earn value and understand themselves throughout the process. Developing a sense of empathy during childhood and adolescence helps one to become a better citizen.
Participating in social activities introduces young people to the process of confronting moral dilemmas and thinking about social change and such exposures help bring volunteer opportunities as children and adolescents will help foster lasting empathy and inclusivity, qualities necessary in cultivating safe, unified communities, build an attitude of helping others and thus live in harmony.
#4. Academic success:
Volunteering NGOs and similar organisations have begun to partner with local campuses to develop service-learning and other volunteer programs and spread awareness among localities. These activities have further shown that students who are involved or participate in these events are less likely to feel disconnected or face comparatively lower attachment issues from school and work. As a matter of fact, 82% of students who are part of such volunteering activities have admitted that it has increased positive feelings about attending high school, while 75% of students agree that service learning had an impact on motivating them to work hard and help themselves and others.
Ultimately, volunteerism and volunteers are the final renewable resource for sustainable development. It becomes a major part as it focuses and delivers services over various parts such as those on health, gender, education, sustainable consumption or environmental protection and therefore engages, focuses, and works on those issues.
Volunteering NGOs and volunteers play a few significant roles in establishing a framework, such as –
- Conducting essential basic services where they are lacking or it deems insufficient.
- Mobilising people together and educating them to develop a sense of ownership and awareness about the challenges they are facing and producing them with possibilities and offering them suggestions to overcome them.
- Enhancing and improvising the effectiveness of peace, communication and development through participatory forms of monitoring and accountability.
- Building trust within people to bridge the gap between each other to promote smooth and diverse relations. Overcoming barriers and working side-by-side toward achieving a common goal.
- Building resilience by ensuring proper preparations through concrete community action, enhanced knowledge and instilling a sense of responsibility for one’s community.
- Building, gaining, developing and polishing individual as well as group skills, through the transfer of knowledge and experience
Thus, the essence of volunteerism is as old as the hills yet is the newest development approach. It involves people, their participation, their cooperation, and more, all in a universal manner. Building a strong volunteer engagement and involving, and encouraging youth volunteering for sustainable development goal delivery will enable all volunteering NGOs and organisations to mobilise volunteers and facilitate volunteering opportunities that bear an enormous potential to achieve a truly transformed society as we all walk towards the ultimate goal of achieving sustainable development.