Over our seventy-year history in New Zealand, volunteers have been the backbone of AFS Intercultural Programmes.
Our volunteer roles were developed in an era when fewer women worked, where nuclear families were the norm and when clearer boundaries existed between work and leisure. As a result, community minded individuals with free time on their hands and an interest in international contact were the ideal volunteers to effectively deliver our services. Our service delivery model was designed around such people and there was no shortage of willing hands.
We know that the people approaching us to volunteer today are looking for time limited volunteer opportunities that they can schedule into busy lives, and for defined projects with immediate impact. They are seeking opportunities that will contribute to their own personal or interpersonal development, not just that of others, and many possess a definition of community that transcends local or national boundaries.
The AFS Volunteer Journey
In response to the changes in volunteerism, AFS worldwide is developing a new approach to recruiting and retaining volunteers. We’ve called it “The AFS Volunteer Journey”. Through redesigning our approach to volunteering we are looking to offer volunteer opportunities that are flexible, offer skill development, and have measurable impacts within local and global communities.
For AFS New Zealand our first step has been to develop seventeen on-line modules that assist in the initial training of our volunteers. These allow volunteers to begin training with us at their own pace and in their own environment. The modules provide consistent induction information for new volunteers and information on new tasks for our current volunteers when they want to change their role. Our next steps in developing our Volunteer Journey include breaking our volunteer roles into more discreet, time bound tasks; developing on-line volunteer communities to facilitate information and task sharing; and implementing a volunteer driven coaching and mentoring strategy to enable volunteer development to sit more firmly in the hands of the volunteers themselves and to create another career pathway for experienced volunteers.
Doris Cuthell, National Director
AFS Intercultural Programmes
AFS Intercultural Programmes is a VNZ member. It is an international, voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.