Which Four Letter Word Best Describes Your Relationship with Work


Social workers and most employees use the word “love when we first start our new jobs. A regular pay schedule allows us to pay our monthly student loans when due. We learn and experience the difference between what the books say and practice realities. We get to “help people” which is the reason many of us went into the social work profession. The ability to help those in need feels good.

Our honeymoon with work lasts for about six months to a year. Everything is new and exciting. We get to know the intricacies of the inner workings of our organizations. The employer and employee become aware of each other’s interests, strengths, and quirks. The honeymoon is fun. The courtship continues. We love, love, love what we do and the organization we are with.

Then something happens. Longevity with an organization provides an awareness of the shortcomings. We begin to compare our goals, interests, and desires with that of the organization. When they do not match, we become frustrated and the relationship becomes strained.  In some instances, the relationship between the employer and employee becomes so frustrating that it sours. Think of a marriage that lasts although the two parties can no longer stand each other. Is your work relationship the same?

Are you a social worker who continues to work in a situation that is no longer satisfying? Have you started using four-letter words other than “love” or “like” to describe your relationship with work?

Many social workers cannot quit good-paying jobs. We need them to sustain our modest lifestyles. However, after five or more years on the job, some feel burned out from unmanageable workloads, hit or miss supervision, and political jockeying. Some may feel depressed because of vicarious trauma. Stress responses may be in overdrive causing edgy or anxious feelings when at work. A few social workers just check out emotionally, opting to go through the motions putting in their “eight” and doing no more than is necessary to get through.

Dissatisfaction with the workplace will continue until the social work honestly answers specific questions. Am I compelled to do this work? Am I demonstrating competence? How comfortable am I in the context of the work environment? These questions jump-start the re-tooling process for every social worker with over five years of experience.

What questions are you asking yourself?

Five Apps to Help Sort Out Your Life

While only you can sort your life out, it is true that little things like your app can make the whole process so much easier for you and enable you to bring about some organization in your life. There is an app for everything now a days – from making you a schedule to prompting you to get on or off one, the push to change your life for good is in your hands.

Wondering what all apps can there be that hold the much wished for support? Here’s a list for you:

1. Shoeboxed

This app is for everyone who wonders where all the money went every month’s end. It lets you keep track of your spending by taking image of the purchase receipts. Shoeboxed gives the opportunity to see where you are spending the most every month, thus helping you curb those expenses.

From the simple personal usage, you can use Shoeboxed to manage your business cards, track mileage, make expense reports, and prepare taxes. The fact that the app makes it so easy to track receipts has made it a prime choice for companies all across the globe.

2. Evernote

This is your one stop solution for all haphazard notes issue. Evernote lets you keep all your to-do lists and ideas to class or office notes in one place and then allows you to view and edit them across a series of devices.

Evernote is not merely a note-taker, it can be the to-do list manager, note-taker, read-later app, reminder, cloud storage service, and you can even use it to scan business card, edit and capture photos, or any document you want.

3. Vent

If there is one thing that scan keep you from bringing you’re a game forward, it’s the pent up feelings. How many times have you found yourself disoriented and confused because you didn’t had anyone to talk to? Vent app helps you talk about your feelings with someone who is willing to hear you out.

The app reads “Voice your opinion to our supportive community without the worry of being insulted or disrespected, de-friended or upsetting people you know” and stands by it through the anonymous feature it offers.

4. LastPass

The one thing that takes most of our time, every day, is trying to remember passwords for the plethora of platforms we are always active on. It either takes a pen and paper or a herculean memory size to store all passwords in. With both being unreliable, LastPass gives you a secure space to store all your email ids and passwords in one place. It saves your passwords even in different browsers.

LastPass is much more than a password storage app, it lets you maintain digital record and online shopping profiles, on the go.

5. Namerick

One of the easiest way to make people like you is by remembering their names. While it sounds easy in saying, it can be much difficult to apply in practice. We meet so many people every single day and with such new faces coming in and out of your life, it can become extremely difficult to keep track of their names, especially when you need their service. Namerick helps you here by associating names to sounds or places or things thus making it easier for you to remember them on time. And the best part is, it lets you store information of when and where you met them and even why you would need them in future!

While the ultimate power to change your life remains in your hand, these five apps can make the transition a little easy for you. You will find a number of other productivity apps in the market that promises just the same. Which one do you use?

10 Rules for Dating in the Nonprofit Sector

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Dozens of people have asked me to address dating within the nonprofit sector, and by dozens of people, I mean one drunk single person at a fundraising gala. This is not a topic that we talk much about, but it is important, because of self-care and blah blah, so I asked the brilliant and attractive people in the NWB Facebook community to help create a list of rules. Here is the list below. Please keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list. Rules may be changed, and new rules may be added.

10 Rules for Dating in the Nonprofit Sector

Rule 1, the Cardinal Rule of Dating in the Nonprofit Sector: Do not date other people from the nonprofit sector*. Yes, proximity is powerful, especially when so many of us work ridiculous hours and see each other all the time. But resist the temptations. First, because we deserve a decent car and house and occasional access to organic blueberries, and the chances for those things greatly decrease if we only stick with each other. But more importantly, our work depends on the rest of society understanding and appreciating the role that nonprofit plays, so we have to marry outward. It’s not gold digging, it’s thinking of the children.

Rule 2: No matter how radiant they are, never ask a program officer out who may fund your org. Sure, you may have kickass pickup lines like, “Does RFP stand for ‘Really Fine Person?’ You’re definitely an RFP to me” or “So, you’re a program officer, huh? Well, you better arrest yourself, officer, because you just stole my heart” (#nonprofitpickuplines, go make that trend on Twitter). But, you’ll only come off as creepy, and worse, you will jeopardize funding for your organization.

Rule 3: Hell, don’t date current coworkers, clients, donors, board members, auditors, and volunteers. Past volunteers are OK, but make sure they don’t work for a nonprofit, so you don’t violate the Cardinal Rule. Past coworkers may be OK, but only if they have moved outside the sector. Remember this phrase: “When in doubt, don’t ask ‘em out,” which has served me well and saved me from many, many dates throughout my life.

Rule 4: Weigh the potential benefits to your organization when choosing whom to go out with. Consider factors such as donation potential, skills that could benefit a committee or project, and whether the person works at company that matches donations or provides event sponsorships.  Remember, you’re not just dating for yourself, you’re also dating to make the world better. Don’t even consider dating someone who won’t likely volunteer at your organization.

Rule 5: Wait until at least the third date before asking someone to volunteer at your fundraising gala. To do so on the first or second date is ungentlemanly or unladylike. When it is the right time to take your relationship to this level, be respectful, thoughtful, and generous, especially if this is your date’s first time helping out at a gala.

Rule 6: Do not schedule dates on important days at your organizations. Avoid scheduling dates when grants are due, grant reports are due, there’s a board meeting, or it’s the monthly potluck karaoke teambuilding dinner at your ED’s place, since he has spent a lot of time practicing Foreigners’ “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

Rule 7: Ensure your date has been trained on racial equity, gender identity, disability, heterosexism, cultural competency, privilege, power, and intersectionality beforelove2introducing them to your teammates. Don’t even think about inviting them to a team happy hour unless they’ve had time to reflect on their identity and role in undoing the dominant systems of oppression.

Rule 8: Take time for your romantic life. Sure, you’re committed to your work, but find time for yourself and your current or potential relationship. As a colleague puts it, “You are allowed date nights and the occasional missed morning…sheesh!” I agree. Get a romantic life! Sheesh!

Rule 9: Keep your romantic life off social media. Ew! Gross! Who wants to see you holding hands and leaning on each other’s shoulders and stuff?! Gross! Besides, it may decrease the morale of your single coworkers, and we need morale to be high, because thefundraising gala is coming up.

Rule 10: Consider the ramifications to your organization when considering breaking up with someone. If you’ve done a good job, your partner should be well invested in your organization. They’re probably even a donor by now. It is important then to consider the effects this may have on your org if you break up with them. If they don’t give much, then sure, whatever. But if they’ve become a major donor, and especially if they work at a place that has a really strong matching program…are they really all that bad? Come on, no one is perfect.

Send in your thoughts and other rules you think should be added.

*If you’re thinking, “Oh crap, I am with someone from the nonprofit sector, I’ve violated the Cardinal Rule,” well, calm down. You didn’t know. But now that you do know, there is no other choice: One of you has to quit the sector and become an engineer, doctor, lawyer, business owner, marketing exec, software developer, model, or oil tycoon. That’s the only way you can stay together.

Top 5 Reasons Social Work is Failing

Airing live on CSPAN, Dr. Steve Perry gave a searing speech on the “The Role of A Social Worker” at the Clark Atlanta University Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the founder and principal of a Connecticut school which only accepts first generation, low-income, and minority students.

Dr. Perry received his Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Pennsylvania and has since become a leading expert in education, a motivational speaker, accomplished author, and a reality tv host.

Dr. Perry was adamant that social workers are the key to solving societal problems because we are the first responders for social issues.

However, he also pointed out that social workers are not unionized, tend to be politically inactive, and do not engage in social conversations in the public sphere.

Dr. Perry asserts that our jobs are the first to be cut because we are silent, and taxpayer dollars are being diverted to education budgets for programs social workers should be implementing.

I have listened to Dr. Perry’s speech twice already, and there were many pearls of wisdom that he dropped on the ears of those in attendance and viewing the broadcast. For the most part, I agreed with 95 percent of what Dr. Perry said which is a very high percentage for me.

Now, I am going to share with you my top 5 reasons why I believe social work is failing:

1. Title Protection

First, it made me beam with joy when Dr. Perry referred to himself as a social worker despite his celebrity status. Most individuals with social work degrees who work in social work settings often refer to themselves as researchers, professors, therapists, or psychoanalysts. The people most vocal about title protection and licensure don’t actually call themselves social workers as if the title is relegated only to frontline staff.

I feel that over time title protection has been convoluted to mean licensed social worker and not a worker with a social work degree. I go in more detail on my thoughts regarding licensure in a prior article entitled, “Licensed Social Workers Don’t Mean More Qualified”. In my opinion, current policies and advocacy by professional associations and social work organizations have fractured the social work community into its current state.

We hail Jane Addams as the founder and pioneer of social work when in fact a story like Jane Addams’ would not be possible today. Jane Addams did not have a social work degree nor did she need a license to advocate, help people organize, or connect them with community resources. As a matter of fact, in today’s society Jane Addams would probably major in gender studies, political science, public policy, business or law.

Social work degree programs have begun dissociating themselves with “casework” connecting community members to resources, and they actually steer students away from these types of jobs. If we are going to pursue title protection, we also need to create second degree and accelerated programs to pull experienced professionals and other degree holders into the social work profession instead of excluding them.

2. Macro vs Micro

For the past couple of decades, social work has slowly moved towards and is now currently skewed toward being a clinical degree while marketing itself as a mental health profession. Over time, the profession has done a poor job in recruiting and connecting with individuals who are interested in working with the poor, politics, grassroots organizing, and other social justice issues.

Individuals who once flocked to social work to do community and social justice work are now seeking out other disciplines instead. Many social workers who want to be politically active and social justice focused are forced to do so under the banner of a women’s organization or other social justice nonprofit due to lack of our own. Students who decided to seek a macro social work degree often feel alienated and unsupported both in school and later with lack of employment opportunities.

3. Professionals Associations Represent Themselves and Not Us

Social Work organizations and associations have been pushing licensing for the past couple of decades which happens to also correlate with the same time frame they tripled the amount of unpaid internship hours required to complete your social work degree.

Recently, the Australian Association of Social Workers conducted a study which found university social work students were skipping meals and could not pay for basic necessities in order to pay for educational materials. American social work students who receive no stipends or any type of assistance are being forced to quit paying jobs in order to work unpaid internships, and they have no one fighting for them. In fact, most social work leaders argue that if you can’t shoulder the hardship this is not the profession for you. Many social workers struggle with supporting the fight for $15 dollars per hour for minimum wage jobs because they have master’s degrees making less than $15 dollars per hour.

You can’t talk to a social worker about anything without hearing the word “licensing”. From the time you start orientation, licensing is being forced feed to you as the solution that will solve all of social work’s problems. You are told licensing is going lead to better pay, better professionalism, better outcomes for clients, and better recognition to name a few. Minimum education and training standards are important, but requiring a medical model for all areas of practice in social work is not the answer. Social Work Licensing advocates often compare social work licensing with that of nurses, doctor, or lawyers.

In my opinion, social work licensing gives social workers all the liability and responsibilities without any of the rights. In states where licensing is required, social work licensing advocates did not advocate for employers to assume the cost of the additional training. The cost of continuing education credits have been passed on to the employee who is already in a low paying job, and the employer may opt to pay for them if they choose.

Here are a few things that licensing actually does:

  • Who can pass the licensure exam without having to pay for test prep materials or a workshop in which your professional association happens to sell to you at a “discount” if you are a member.
  • People are taking the licensure exam sometimes at $500 each time for four to five times. Where is this money going?
  • Once you pass the licensure exam, you are going to need liability insurance in which they also happen to sell.
  • To keep your social work license, you will have to maintain a certain amount of continuing education unit (CEU) hours yearly. They just happen to own and provide the majority of these CEU online companies and workshops for you as well.
  • Then, you have to pay renewal fees yearly and fines to your state board of licensure which goes to sustain their jobs.

Licensing is currently in all 50 states and US territories, and it seems to benefit the people who created the policies more than it does the social worker and the communities we serve. Licensure makes money, and social justice issues just aren’t income generators. For social workers who are already struggling, how does all the above fees and costs affect their career mobility in one of the lowest paid professions with one of the highest student loan income/debt ratios? Without a union for social workers, who will advocate on our behalf and for our clients to get the resources we need to serve them?

4. Lack of Diversity in Social Work Leadership and Academia 

Through Social Work Helper, I have had the opportunity to be a part of conversations with various factions of social work leadership over the past couple of years. Often times, I was the only person a part of the conversation that didn’t have a doctorate or at least in the process of earning one.  Additionally, I noticed that very few were minority voices if any other than me who were a part of these conversations. At first, I was intimidated because they had more education and  higher positions than me.

However, the more I listened and paid attention, I realized they are not better than me rather they had access to more opportunities than me. The ignorance and insensitivity displayed towards communities of color and the plight of social workers who are struggling in this profession was unbelievable.

Diversity in leadership brings different perspectives and point of views to be added to the conversation. Why didn’t more social work organizations and schools of social work support last night’s speech by Dr. Perry hosted at a Historically Black College? How often is the topic of social work front and center in a televised public forum?

According Social Work Synergy,

“At times this will mean sharing power and leadership in deeper ways, and taking proactive steps to undo oppression and racism. The use of community organizing principles and skills are essential” (p.19) to this effort. Read Full Article

5. Lack of Support and Silence

Social work organizations and associations are forever holding conferences that the majority of social workers can’t afford to attend. Many social workers don’t have the luxury of having their university foot the bill for them to attend every social work conference each year. This very dynamic adds to the failures listed in 1 thru 4. In addition, it highlights another point made by Dr. Perry when he stated, “Social Workers will talk to each other, but they won’t engage in the public sphere”.

I have contacted both the Council for Social Work Education (CSWE) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) asking them to waive certain expenses, so I can cover their conferences in order to engage social workers via social media who can’t afford to attend. I can get press access to a White House event, but not to a social work conference. It’s like a country club that you can’t be a part of unless you can afford it.

Watch for free on CSPAN: The Role of Social Workers

 

The Practitioner’s Lament: I Don’t Have Time for Research

Practising social work teaches good bladder control. Social workers run from one bushfire to another, juggle complex, urgent demands and multitask. Lunch is often a sumptuous feast eaten to the accompaniment of one-hand typing and a receiver lodged between the ear and shoulder. Reading, let alone doing research, is the last thing on the mind of most practitioners.

researchSocial workers agree that practice-based research is important but it is really hard to squeeze research into daily work schedules. I practised social work for three decades and it took two to start doing my own research. I wasted a lot of time. As a practitioner, I saw so many core, taken-for-granted aspects of social work knowledge and skills published as new ideas in the publications of other disciplines. This, of course, isn’t the only reason to do research. At the end of the day, it improves practice, benefits our clients and provides evidence that supports what we do. It is also tremendously satisfying. Social work is important and we do have things to say.

Time isn’t the only barrier. Organisational support, expertise, lack of confidence and mentorship are often problems. Social workers are innovative and imaginative when it comes to finding solutions for clients. There is no reason why we can’t use these same skills to generate research as part of our everyday professional practice. Here are some of my ideas.

  1. Find a mentor. If there are no research mentors in your work place connect with social work schools at universities. Social work academics are very supportive of practitioner research and may work and publish with you.
  2. Think about research grants. There are grants for practitioners that might provide the means to backfill your position giving you time off-line for research.
  3. Start small. Test the waters with a small project that is achievable and will result in a publication.
  4. Pick something that really interests you. Thinking about what eats away at you – that annoying aspect of practice or something you see in your practice that is contrary to what you have read (or not read) – is a good way of developing a research question.
  5. Don’t work alone. Research with your social work colleagues. If you work in a multi-disciplinary setting think multi-disciplinary research.
  6. Develop a research culture. Get together with colleagues and put research on the agenda for team meetings and supervision.
  7. Manage up. Identify key people within the organisation and get them on board. Conducting research of benefit to the organisation helps.
  8. Be imaginative. Be open to possibilities and develop strategies to make time. One example is a buddy system – an agreement between colleagues where you can cover each other’s work for a day to allow time off-line for research.
  9. The harsh reality. The harsh reality is you will more than likely have to sacrifice some of your own time. I can only say – it’s worth it.

I would love to hear what has worked for you.

CSWE: 2015 EPAS Now Available for Public Comment and Feedback

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Draft 2: 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS)
Opens on March 14, 2014 
Feedback Closes on May 16, 2014

On behalf of CSWE’s Commission on Educational Policy (COEP) and Commission on Accreditation (COA), the second draft of the 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) is now available for public review, comment, and feedback. We would like to thank the programs, individuals and organizations that provided feedback on the first draft. For Draft 1, we received 24 surveys on the CSWE feedback website and letters/emails from 12 programs and 4 organizations. Three feedback sessions were conducted at the October 2013 APM with approximately 350 participants in attendance. Feedback on Draft 1 closed on December 31, 2013. The COA and COEP worked in January and February 2014 to review the feedback and make changes for Draft 2 of the 2015 EPAS.

The revision of educational policy and accreditation standards is set-up to be a thoughtful, lengthy, 2 year inclusive and collaborative process leading to a vote on the educational policy by the CSWE Board of Directors in October 2014 and a vote on the accreditation standards by the Commission on Accreditation in June 2015. The full timeline is available on the EPAS Revision page. Feedback on Draft 2 is very important as this will be the last public comment period for the educational policy before it is approved in October 2014. Additional comment periods on the accreditation standards will continue in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015.

The intent of both commissions is to solicit feedback from as many constituents as possible in as many ways as possible. CSWE invites and encourages all individual and program members and interested organizations to provide feedback on the second draft of the 2015 EPAS. Feedback can be submitted as a group or individually in one or more of the following ways:

1.    Submit feedback online as an individual and/or program member of CSWE at:  http://research.zarca.com/survey.aspx?k=SsTXWXsSXSsPsPsP&lang=0&data=

2.    Submit feedback online representing an interested organization at: http://research.zarca.com/survey.aspx?k=SsTXWXsSXSsPsPsP&lang=0&data=

3.    Submit a feedback letter directly to CSWE at Office of Social Work Accreditation, 1701 Duke Street, Suite 200, Alexandria, VA 22314 or by e-mail at EPASrevision@cswe.org.

4.    Attend 2015 EPAS information and feedback sessions at the 2014 BPD and NADD conferences and share feedback in person.

The 2014 BPD information and feedback session is scheduled for:

  • Saturday, March 22, 2014 from 9:30 am–10:45 am in Kentucky E

The 2014 NADD feedback session is scheduled for:

  • Friday, April 11, 2014 from 8:30 am–10:00am in Grand Ballroom C, Vanderbilt Wing, 8th Floor

CSWE suggests reading two documents in their entirety prior to beginning any feedback. The first document is a Summary of Feedback on Draft 1 and Proposed Changes for Draft 2 which offers an overview of the feedback and proposed changes for Draft 2 of the 2015 EPAS. The second document is a copy of Draft 2 of the 2015 EPAS.

CSWE through the COEP and COA is committed to a comprehensive and thorough review process that develops a 2015 EPAS that reflect the excellence of social work education programs. Updates on the process will be shared in CSWE’s Full Circle and on the CSWE website.

We look forward to hearing from you regarding Draft 2 of the 2015 EPAS. Please note that the second feedback period will close May 16, 2014. CSWE’s COEP and COA welcome collegial feedback and expertise as well as help in disseminating this information widely among all interested parties. If you have any questions about the feedback process or experience any technical problems with the online feedback system, please contact the CSWE Office of Social Work Accreditation at EPASrevision@cswe.org.

Jo Ann R. Regan, PhD, MSW
Director, Office of Social Work Accreditation

Press Release: Social Work Helper Magazine was not involved in the creation of this content.

Burnout: Who’s Taking Care of the Care Takers?

 

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Stressors are a given in the helping professions such as social work, teaching, and nursing which can often lead to burnout. These can include intense and long work hours, low salaries, mismanagement, lack of appreciation and support, lack of job autonomy and security, lack of professional development and growth opportunities, politics (both interagency and governmental), and even personal risk at times. As a result it’s highly important to establish and implement procedures that reduce and/or eliminate stressors in order to prevent burnout and ultimately employee turnover which negatively impacts the organization and those served. 

Burnout is preventable. However, helping professions haven’t typically focused on their employees in the same way they’ve focused on their clients. Reducing and eliminating the stressors that contribute to burnout would ultimately require a total revamping of society. Many of the standards set by organizations are established by outside sources that are often disconnected from the reality of service provision.

This can lead to organizations placing a greater priority on those standards rather than addressing and supporting the needs of their employees, which also directly affect the needs of those they are helping. In an attempt to meet particular standards, organizations often have limited resources to reach their objectives. This can manifest as low salaries as well as significant overtime due to limited staffing due to limited funding while occurring within a societal framework that often fails to provide sufficient vacation time, healthcare, or other programs to support well being.

Contemplating a complete overhaul of society is overwhelming and contributory factor in creating the circumstances for burnout. There are many protective factors helping organizations and employees as individuals can do to promote change. Many in the helping fields advocate for others as individuals and overall societal change, but often have difficulty advocating for themselves. Some of this is a result of societal traditions and some of it is a result of a lack of education on the issues that directly impact them. This is particularly evident in regards to pay.

Employees in the helping professions are often underpaid and since money equals value in our society this communicates how little our society values the services these individuals provide.  Of course most don’t go into their chosen field to make a ton of money. However, if one has a major financial burden due to the profession they chose, this can contribute to burnout. At a societal and organizational level, those in helping professions need to advocate not only for higher pay, but also shorter work hours and increased vacation time.

Research has demonstrated that working overtime has a direct correlation to decreased productivity while employing flexible hours has a direct correlation to increased productivity.  Such policies also promote overall well being in all aspects of life, therefore, they should be taken into consideration and ample time off should be provided to recuperate. This could also provide opportunities for more jobs in these fields thus decreasing the unemployment rate.

These changes alone could move the meter tremendously towards eradication of burnt out helping professionals. Additionally, there are smaller changes that can be made until organizations and society buys in to the value of taking care of its employees and citizens.  Since increased job autonomy and social support within organizations are directly linked to increased job satisfaction and decreased stress, organizations should create an environment that promotes this. Supervisors need to be mindful of providing praise as well as allowing room for employees to create aspects of their job duties.

Many enter into their chosen field passionate about certain areas and when they aren’t allowed to be involved in their passions, lose enthusiasm for their job.  Encouraging employees to incorporate their passions can significantly improve job satisfaction and decrease burnout. As well, creating promotional opportunities along with salary increases adds to employees’ motivation to be productive and satisfied. Along with all of this, providing opportunities for professional development in areas of employees’ interests will promote growth that will benefit both the individual workers and the organization. Included in this should be stress management workshops because no matter how many of these changes are made, stress will still exist in the helping professions.

Employees and organizations need to constantly educate and empower themselves in order to most effectively advocate for those they help, their field, and of course, themselves. At first, it may appear selfish to advocate for oneself when many working in helping professions have been socialized to operate within society’s parameters. By instituting protective factors for helping professionals, it will not only benefit the employees and their fields, but society as a whole will also reap the benefits. It’s time to stand up for health and well being for all including those who traditionally provide such opportunities of empowerment.

Could Virtual Volunteering Be Right for You

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Wish you could volunteer or donate time to a worthy cause, but your schedule just don’t have the extra time?  Maybe, there is an alternative that may be right for you. Virtual volunteering is basically doing volunteer work using the Internet. This could be a better alternative for those who want to be more active in doing non-traditional volunteer work.

There are a lot of organizations that you can find through the Internet that accept virtual volunteers. United Nations, Do Something, or Womenoncall are some of these organizations. Just look up their websites and you can match your skills to the jobs that they need. You could incorporate such programs into your employees’ work schedules and make some time to monitor them.

Kinds of virtual volunteer works

Tasks a volunteer may choose from may vary from as simple as data entry or online research to technical jobs like designing databases or web pages. What is important is that you could volunteer for services that you are particularly skilled at. Volunteer work that involves more specific tasks like counseling or giving legal, medical or business advice are better handled by professional people who are experts in those fields.

Here are some examples of tasks that a volunteer may engage in:

  • Virtual learning opportunities like e-tutoring students in various subjects, teaching foreigners in basic English as well as helping people learn different skills that may give them job opportunities like web design, photo editing, data entry and other related online tasks.
  • Administrative work like online research, data entry, translating documents, scanning documents and answering clients’ inquiries on behalf of the organization.
  • Technical jobs like creating podcasts, graphic design or editing videos.
  • Facilitate communication and networking through editing or writing proposals, newsletter articles and press releases about the organization.

There are some advantages of virtual volunteering like the following:

  • Virtual volunteering overcomes geographic boundaries and time constraints. You can give service to people from other countries most especially those who are lacking in resources. Since no travel is involved, you can spend more time teaching basic subjects to students on a one on one basis, allowing for more flexibility and convenience.
  • Virtual volunteering provides an efficient and cost effective way to perform community service. Since you have the technical resources in place like the computer with Internet connection and VoIP service, all one needs are the resource materials to complete your tasks when necessary.
  • It is environment friendly. Being able to work offsite helps the company promote eco friendly practices like less paper wasted or no car fumes emitted.
  • Online volunteers may have more sophisticated computer equipment and also programming skills that the organization may benefit from. This way, the organization saves more money, as they would use the volunteer’s resources in their behalf.
  • Assisting with programs dealing with helping out children, troubled individuals, and people needing counseling or tutoring may empower the volunteers into realizing that they make an impact on the people they help.
  • Volunteers could collaborate with each other using the Internet. Volunteer managers can use online discussion groups to be more knowledgeable about the program and get tips or offer advice to others.
  • Volunteers may be inspired to take a step further and continue on accepting volunteer work on their own and turn  into great advocates for the organization.

Benefits of virtual volunteering

Virtual volunteering can benefit both you and your organization as well as providing services to the organization, school, or government program where volunteer work is rendered. Even, companies who join in this endeavor now have the tools to sharpen their employee volunteer programs, and by design, are able to polish their corporate philanthropy reputation.

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