The members of EDYN share a common conviction that voluntary service is worthwhile for the church, for society and for individuals. More people will have the opportunity for a full-time voluntary service experience when organised programmes (net)work together. EDYN wishes to help churches and church-linked organizations to develop their own infrastructure of voluntary service, whether or not they become members of the network.

Topics of this page

What is a voluntary service programme/organisation?
How can EDYN help the church (organisations) to establish a voluntary service programme?
How to get a programme started
1. How do you understand voluntary service in your situation?
2. Who do you want to attract as volunteers and why?
3. Resource analysis
4. Start up

What is a voluntary service programme/ organisation?

A programme or organisation that manages all aspects of voluntary service, including:
• Finding placements for volunteers and arranging for the provision of room, board and pocket money, supervision, mentoring and hosting.
• Securing funding for the programme. Funding sources may include national and local churches, volunteers, their families and friends, public money (European Union, national, state and municipal), foundations and private enterprise, placement institutions. A good funding system includes ways to fund worthwhile placements and volunteers when they cannot pay the required amount themselves.
• Advertising for volunteers and for placements and providing both with the necessary information. Interviewing and selecting volunteers in accordance with the criteria of the hosting organizations and preparing volunteers for service, especially if they will be serving in another country, culture and language.
• Conducting a programme of non-formal education through regular gatherings of volunteers during their service. Where the programme includes national and international volunteers, ensuring that the content and methods of the programme deal with the cultural differences between the volunteers
• Offering culturally appropriate support and meeting the special needs of volunteers
• For volunteers sent abroad helping them to reflect on their experiences after their return, including dealing with reverse culture shock, reintegration into their home society and church, and enabling them to share their experiences
• Negotiating and lobbying government in regard to legal status of volunteers – questions of social insurance, visas & work permits, and financial support.
• Providing ways for returned volunteers to engage in the programme.

How can EDYN help the church (organisations) to establish a voluntary service programme?

Since each country, church and organisation is unique, there is no model that will work for all situations. Nevertheless, EDYN is glad to share it’s experience with those interested in creating new programmes, such as
• application, interview and evaluation forms
• curricula for preparation, in-service learning and re-entry events
• approaches and methods for all of the EDYN learning objectives (faith journey, intercultural learning, etc.)
• examples of “funding mixes”
• expertise in applying for financial support from the EU YOUTH programme (especially Action 2- European Voluntary Service),
• systems for information and selection
• ways to build up a programme with minimal staff costs through the engagement of former volunteers in a systematic way (“rolling system”)
• resources for training supervisors and mentors
• suggestions and links to other voluntary service organisations for lobbying governments on status questions, etc.

How to get a programme started

Although it is relatively easy to send a volunteer from one country to another on an ad hoc basis, it is much harder to create a programme that can do this year after year in a sustained way. The following is a way to think through the creation of a sustainable programme.

1. How do you understand voluntary service in your situation?
After looking at various definitions available, define your own understanding of voluntary service:
• What is it, and what will be the benefits for your society, church and organisation from having a voluntary service programme?
• What is the theological foundation for a programme? How would you differentiate it from a programme offered by a secular institution?
• Are there any programmes for voluntary service already in existence in your church/ country?
If there are, how would a new programme offer something not already offered?

2. Who do you want to attract as volunteers and why?
What age group(s), social classes, religious background, kinds of motivation? Who do you not want to attract? Why? What do you hope they will contribute during and after their service– to the placements, to their home churches, to society? What do you hope the volunteer will get from the service? What terms of service are appropriate? What will the volunteer’s job look like? How many hours a week, how many days off, supervision, attendance at staff meetings, etc? Volunteers are not paid staff. Nevertheless they do have out of pocket expenses. Bearing in mind that the pocket money of volunteers should usually be less than the income of the people they work with, what is an appropriate monthly stipend for a volunteer to receive in your country?

3. Resource analysis
3.1. Placements. What kinds of placements could use a full-time volunteer for a year? Which of them could provide room and board and pocket money and contribute to the other costs of the programme? What placements would be unable to provide all of this but are worth having? What could they provide?
3.2. Organisation. Are there any programmes for part-time volunteering, short-term volunteering (work camps) etc. in your church already? Would they be prepared to help in developing this kind of programme (advertising, selection, and involvement of people who were in their programmes)? Which persons, departments, associations in your church organisation already have a mandate to deal with (some) of the groups you want to attract as volunteers?
3.3. Financing. What costs would be involved in hosting and sending 10 volunteers? (The minimum number ten volunteers are chosen because in EDYN’s experience ten volunteers make a good number for effective group dynamics in a seminar. It is the level at which at least one half-time staff person normally becomes necessary to run a programme). Estimate the costs as though everything would have to be paid for in cash, even if some expenses could be covered without payment (e.g. accommodation in some placements). Even if a programme starts smaller with only unpaid part-time volunteers as staff, it is helpful to see what it would cost when it reaches a critical stage of growth. What are possible sources of income? Which of these could be ongoing and which of them would be either once only or dependent on developing new projects to obtain funding? What sources of in-kind funding are there?
3.4. Authorisation and Support. What church officials could be approached about giving their moral support to such a programme? Which officials would have to approve such a programme for it to be acceptable among church members at the local level?

4. Start up
The starting up of a programme rarely means that all the infrastructure that is necessary for sustaining a programme is already present. On the other hand, starting up without thinking of where you want to be in 3-4 years time can mean you begin in a way that makes the goal of a longer-term growth and stability impossible.
So, even if it seems utopian, it is good to start with:
4.1. Creating a vision of where you would like the programme to be in 4 years: how many participants, what kind of participants, what kind of placements, what role and recognition in the church, etc.
4.2. Project how the programme should grow over the 4 years to reach this goal and what resources will be needed each year. For example, at what point would it be necessary to have a full-time staff person to run the programme? EDYN members’ experience is that a full-time person will be necessary when there are over 40 volunteers/ year – whether these are volunteers hosted or sent, plus part-time administrative help. It is also important to remember that getting a programme started requires investing more time than maintaining one that already exists.
4.3. Current situation analysis: who would be ready to work on setting up the programme and how much time do they have?
4.4. Who (juridical person) would be legally responsible for the first year(s)?
4.5. Staff: who will be responsible for what in the first year(s)? How often will the team meet?
4.6. What costs will be incurred and how will they be covered?
4.7. Will the programme begin with sending and/or hosting volunteers?
4.8. What kind of advertising for volunteers or/and placements will bed one?
4.9. What initial authorisation will be needed?
4.10. Action plan


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