Volunteer With Us

Volunteering with Trishul (NGO).

What is Volunteering?

Volunteering is a social service activity to provide your time freely to help people, community and the society. Volunteers do not expect for payment or economical gain but they can contribute time and resources. 

Why is volunteering important for students?

By volunteeringstudents develop life skills and become well-rounded individuals. ... They develop life skills as they get immersed in activities that are outside of their comfort zones. Volunteering helps students become competent, employable, and better meet their learning objectives.

Click here to check out few of the volunteering experiences with Trishul NGO

Etiquette of Volunteering (Please read this completely before you apply as a volunteer/intern).

Every month I receive several applications to volunteer for a social cause, we would like to volunteer for your NGO do you have any availability.

We are interested in doing something for a social cause, we want to do something for Women Empowerment, we want to teach children from the economically weaker section background, we want to give back, we want to care, and/or we want to have the satisfaction of having done something good for the society. It is often nice to get such application and I love it when they follow-up consistently until I have responded.

Sometimes, I delay purposely. Because, it is one thing to say you care, one thing to say you want to do something, and a whole different thing to actually do it. 

So let me give you readers a road-map on how to volunteer effectively. This post is for those who wish to volunteer with an NGO which has paid staff or dedicated set-up. Volunteering in key management positions of an NGO or in an all-volunteer setup is a very different cup of tea.

Who are we? We have spent close to 3 decades as some of the found members of an NGO (Trishul) working at grassroots’ level as volunteers as-well-as as a committee member, connecting volunteers to various projects and sub projects. as well as managing few small volunteer teams.

Let us Start
It is wonderful that you want to volunteer.  But do you want to volunteer for only one day, a couple of hours once in a week for a duration of few months or volunteer on all working days working 6 hours a day for a month or two, so-on-and-so-forth? 

If you want to volunteer for one day then look out for cleaning drives, tree plantation, one-day awareness campaigns etc.

But note, in such one-day events, crowd management, managing resources and communicate effectively is sometimes difficult. Instead of complaining how things could have been better managed, make the best use of the space available to make yourself useful.

Regular Schedule in Volunteering

If you want to volunteer more regularly, first ask yourself, if you have the time and will to commit consistent volunteer support for 2-6 months at the very least. Then assess if you have the skills that match your NGO’s needs.  It creates havoc when volunteer turnaround is high. Because every time a new volunteer comes in, s/he has to be trained, guided in the area of work, and it is exhausting for the NGO staff/team.

 I remember trying to connect some of the student applicants from a degree college background who wanted to volunteer at Trishul Learning Centre to conduct few Math and Science teaching session for children. The first thing I was asked was about the length and regularity of the volunteer time. I was surprised that she was hesitant. 

Later I realized that students in the Centre come to learn with passion and when the volunteer-teachers don’t show up their energy sags.

Just Volunteer—Don’t Expect Returns

When you begin volunteering with an NGO, please do not expect them to be grateful to you and shower you with flowery praises. It is wonderful you are giving your time but so are they. They have often committed their careers and personal life to the cause. This is especially true for small NGOs with limited staff support. One staff person often has to wear multiple hats and is stressed for time and energy. I am often exhausted with the number of questions and the constant tugging on the sleeve that happens when an over-eager volunteer shows up. Buddy, I thought you were here to help, not become an extra set of chores. 

Recently, I connected few volunteers to our Trishul Women Empowerment Program - Program Head (TWEP mainly focused on Skill Development and Livelihood Generation). I found that the program coordinator as very hesitant although was an experienced in working with NGOs. The reason was, helping the student volunteer to transition to the new cultural norms and then be able to provide useful service to the organization takes a long time and drains the resources and energy of the NGO. After being assured that the intern would get adequate cultural training, the coordinator relented.

Cultural Sensitivity

As a volunteer, if you enter specific communities like HIV-infected children or the disabled population or a slum area, please first study the issues thoroughly and understand the cultural etiquette of the group. NGOs ideally should organize diversity orientation workshop to sensitize volunteers to the community culture—the need to respect different ways of being and living. 

For example, the children living in slums do not want to be pitied. Rather, you behave with them the way you would with any other children from economically well-off society.

Cultural sensitivity is super crucial when volunteers travel to slums or rural areas or work with marginal populations. I once had taken a bunch of student volunteers on a project in a poor neighborhood without adequate training. I went on to regret it because students entered the community with a “know-it-all” and “I-will-save-you” attitude and it deeply offended the community representatives. 

I once shuddered when a young man gave a speech in a village which was something along these lines: “Today is a wonderful day for you all. People from the cities who work in big places have taken time off to come to your village and explain how this issue affects all of you. Hence you must listen carefully.” Don’t people in the village work? Is their work anyway lesser than ours? Aren’t the farmers the backbone of our country? Isn’t it true that we get to eat at reasonable economics because of them? The point is, we need to remember each person has their place in the world.

Volunteering brings joy to your life. It helps you find like-minded friends and community. It makes evenings and weekends more purposeful and happy. Find an NGO today and offer your time and skills. Change happens, one step at a time.

How to Win Trust

I have learned through many failures that the first step to enacting change is to win the trust of the community that you are working for. You cannot show off your knowledge, your “liberated” status, your clothes, or your lifestyle. Instead, you become humble and adapt to their clothes and lifestyle without giving up your core values. In-your-face statements don’t help. What helps is listening, empathizing, caring, and doing hands-on work. When you are allowed to become a friend of the community, then you can suggest changes. But again, your suggestions may be accepted or not.  You need to persevere. 

When you enter into volunteering, please do not expect change to happen in your term or sometimes even in your lifetime. Change is slow, painful and complex. Sometimes change happens years after you leave. But know this that every push, every sweat has made its way to make that change possible.

Volunteering also requires shedding of ego and willingness to do the most menial of tasks. It helps if you use volunteering as a detox process and spiritual growth. I had volunteered to conduct a fundraiser for an NGO. The fundraiser was moving splendidly till the washroom toilets had a leak and water flooded the entire area. The plumbers were not easily available. The only way to save the show was to undertake cleaning work ourselves. Two of us took the mop, bucket and drained the water and cleaned the toilets to make it usable again. I was soaked with toilet water at the end of it and could not stay for the event. But I left very happy.

Most NGOs that are doing real work need funds. That’s where they need volunteers.  I have noticed that many people shrug from asking for donations. I have overcome this hesitancy over the years. First, sometimes I offer services in exchange for donations. I have taken few fundraisers on a free adventure trek or a high discounted adventure tour. 

Presentations at fundraisers forums or business networking forms are good platforms for fundraising. I have been presenting before many business community get-togethers to bring awareness and fundraise. Over the years, I have become cheekier and more demanding on instant commitment at the end of the presentation. 

Secondly, I realized I was not asking money or support for myself. I was asking money for a good cause which I believe in and if the donors themselves wanted to support that because they may also contribute. So I do not need to be ashamed. A fundraiser friend of mine also told me how he often invoked the “Dan De” concept where the monks beg for their basic requirements as a way to humble themselves. Both these notions work for me. And today, I do not feel the least little bit ashamed in knocking on doors to seek funds.

But if I have fundraiser for a cause, I make it a point to follow it up to see if the money has been used properly and prefer to see documentation in this regard. I am often harsh and insistent on this point and I never raise funds for a group or project where systems of reporting back or accounting is weak. The money needs to go to the beneficiary—there must be results.

Volunteering is a wonderful way to mature as a person. As much as you give, you also receive within. You become calmer, less depressed, and more joyful. You also become more skilled in interpersonal and networking skills, in team work and in managing rapidly changing situations. I become a better person very time I volunteer.

If you are not already volunteering, please give it a try. It definitely is worth your time!

We are looking for Volunteers who are interested in working on following projects:

  • For Free Learning Center for Children (Sponsor a child)
  • For Nutrition and Snack Program for Children and Women
    • Nutrition Program for Children/Women (You can sponsor 60 to 80 children/women Nutrition per day - Budget Rs.750/- to Rs.1200/- per day).
  • Sponsor Scholarship for a child
    • Scholarship program for deserving children (We are looking for scholarships of Rs.6500/- to Rs.12500/- per student per year); for their basic educational expenses like Guide Books and Text Books; Free Coaching; School Uniforms; Infrastructure like space rentals; electricity; overheads etc. You may also support in contributing part of scholarship program. The amount will depend upon the grade of student.
  • Sponsor a skill development program for Women Empowerment Program.
    • Sponsor a 3 month skill development workshop for 20 women. These workshops developing skills for Women that will help them in livelihood generation.
  • Fund Raising for Trishul Women Empowerment Project
    • for buying stitching and sewing material.
    • Skill Development Trainer Fees
    • Cloth material for stitching etc.
    • Threads for hand embroidery
2) Social Media Campaign

Internet and Social Media Campaigns.

Helping us increase our reach on (Sharing Blog / Website links; Instagram; Facebook; Twitter, Linkedin; Youtube; Pinterest etc)

This helps us in reaching more donors and also helps us in selling more product made by TWEP, thereby increasing their self-sustainability.

3) Volunteers for Teaching Children 

Trishul Learning Centre (TLC) - (Volunteers required for teaching children; female volunteers preferred for teaching children)

  • Teaching Help for teaching children between age of 6 to 12 years old (Girl Child and Children); SSC Board; English and Marathi Medium.  Timings 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Monday to Friday. Commitment at-least 2 times per week and for a minimum period of two months.
  • Supporting faculty for - Art and Craft (Once in a Week - Monday Evenings 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm) (Only Female volunteers may apply)
  • Dance teacher (Once or Twice a week - 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm).

4) Volunteers for Toys and Storybook Library.

  • Drive to Collect (Toys, Board Games, Art and Craft Material, Stationery) for a Free, "Toys and Books Library".
  • Volunteers to support managing children subscription, organizing books and toys. (Once a week, Fridays (7:00 pm to 8:30 pm)
  • Volunteers to manage and guide children with board games/storybook reading (Monday to Fridays - 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm) - Play Read Learn Sessions
5) Volunteers for sales and marketing - Trishul Women Empowerment Program (TWEP)

  • Get bulk orders for Women Empowerment Program like (Bag Making, Greeting Cards, Book Marks, Embroidery etc) or custom orders for other product products they can make.
  • To manage and help in Exhibition cum Sales of products made at TWEP (Sales and Inventory counter), a requirement from project to project basis. Mostly during festive seasons (between July to February), commitment on a consistent basis as product training for a volunteer is a must. 
  • Volunteers expert/professionals in Fashion Designing, Cutting Master, Handmade Jewelry, Hand Embroidery, or Similar Skills. (Minimum commitment twice in a week - 2 pm to 4 pm).
  • Stationery (either fund raising or buy and donate books directly - Text Books).
  • Clothes (New / if Old Clothes they should be in good usable condition)