Volunteering is a term that has been used since time immemorial. Its definition varies, but for the purposes of this discussion it is defined as the practice of individuals working on a specific cause on behalf of other individuals without expecting any form of pay for the time and energy spent in the engagement process. Besides, it can also be defined as the process in which an individual contributes his or her time, talents, skills and or efforts to satisfy a requirement, a mission or objective without being on payment roll (Fawcett, 2005).
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Volunteering is important to both the beneficiaries and the volunteers themselves (Warburton & Oppenheimer, 2000). The beneficiaries are able to be strengthened in cases where they are weak. To them, volunteering is an act of generosity. The volunteers also have something to gain from the act; a volunteer is able to view life from positive perspective, they are able to gain experience in their areas of careers, especially college students and fresh graduates, they enjoy and are able to learn more about service to others.
The decision to volunteer is always a personal choice (Sharpe, 2005). However, in college settings, it may be a requirement for students to volunteer in different organizations as part of completing their courses (Peterson’s, 2005). It is important to note that volunteering has no age limit. Any body can volunteer: including fresh college graduates, working professionals and retired individuals (McMillon et al., 2009).
I personally believe that, besides assisting others, volunteering help me develop interpersonal skills since I get to meet several different people, I gain experience that cannot be learnt in class about real life situations and I also get to apply knowledge learnt in class (Lawson, 1998). I believe it is a ways of giving back to the society. I have volunteering with the Methodist Church of Great Britain. This discussion is subdivided to three parts: the portfolio for volunteer services, SMART and SWOT analysis.
Evaluation of the Profile
The Methodist Church of Great Britain has several areas in which it taps on the services of volunteers. Generally, church organizations or church based organizations are engaged in various activities that involve the local communities directly. In order to sufficiently utilize its limited and scarce resources, it has to supplement its current staff members, staff experience, and more participation at grass root levels, add flexibility to work patterns and respond more crises situations within its framework of operations. In the church, my volunteer activities involved youth work and community engagement and representing the church within the local communities. Within the church, a volunteer performs administrative assignments; for effective engagement, volunteers must be computer literate. Moreover, volunteers can be sent to communities to carry out certain activities as may be organized by the church.
Community services are some of the most important activities to the Methodist Church of Britain. The members of the church usually come from around the church; by engaging into community service, the church involves its members from the locality and gets to offer more than just spiritual nourishment to the laity. In fact, through community services, the church gets to interact with community members outside spiritual real. Most beneficiaries of the church’s community activities are actually members of the church and other locals who are also directly involved. Due to these varied activities, the church has been able to make use of volunteers more than ever. It always seeks the services of more volunteers whenever the activities increase.
Having been my first time to volunteer I had to face certain challenges that I never anticipated. The workload was too much yet I had to ensure that I performed my tasks to meet the standards set by the church officials. Even though the challenges were many, the church always ensures that each volunteer does not work alone. There is always a supervisor and mentor to every group of two or three volunteers or the number may be decided depending on the number of volunteers available.
Every mentor is supposed to guide his or her volunteers accordingly depending with the tasks at hand. My first duty at the church was to enter data into the computer system and clearing staff. Thereafter, I was involved in fieldwork where my main duty was to collect in formation on the field activities done by other volunteers and compile a report which I was to finally present before t he church community members and elders. My main weakness was finishing the reports early enough to allow for reviews.
Volunteering has several benefits both to the recipients and volunteers themselves (Potter, 2004). Volunteering helps one to experience personal growth, gain experience and get an opportunity to be part of the wider community’s developmental activities. Besides, through volunteering an individual is able to learn certain weaknesses found within an organization, not necessarily the church, and how tackle those challenges. In addiction, though volunteering one gets to learn organizational development and how organizational culture is formed, adopted and perpetuated. However, volunteering work has varied challenges to different people. These challenges may be due to personal weaknesses which, fortunately, one learns how to improve on by engaging in more and more of the organizational activities.
It is important to note that through volunteering, I will be able to have more experience as far as my career development is concerned. I still have to engage in more volunteering work so as to gain further experience in different areas. One of the major advantages of volunteering is that, as a volunteer, one does several kinds of tasks. This helps one to be all rounded and to understand different aspects of work. These make one to be productive and competitive in the labour market. In fact, it is easy for one to get a job and adapt very fast since such a person, while working as a volunteer, is used to work environment (Hindle, 2007).
SWOT analysis is a tool that is used for the auditing of different organizations and their environment, both internal and external. It is the first phase of strategic planning and it assists different organizations to focus their attention on the key fundamental issues. It is important to note that Strengths and Weaknesses are internal factors while Opportunities and Threats are external factors. For the case of Methodist Church of Britain, SWOT analysis serves a powerful tool used in understanding Strengths and Weaknesses of a community while also considering the Opportunity it has and the Threats it is likely to face (Fawcett, 2005).
- The church has committed volunteers and hardworking staff members. Besides, the volunteers and the staff members thoroughly understand the nature of work the church is involved in;
- Financial advantage: it is important to note that all activities of the church require sufficient amount of money to execute. The church has enough finances that enables to fully and effectively engage in its communal activities amongst different community regions within the United Kingdom and abroad;
- Most of the members of the community in which the church carries out its developmental activities worship with the Methodist Church of Britain;
- Regional presence: Methodist Church of Britain has several branches; it is sufficiently decentralized and this makes it easy to coordinate the communal activities of the church. Due to this, the church is able to engage as many community members as possible in its activities spread all over the County;
- The local community members have formed different development groups that make it easy for the church to offer its varied services to different people.
- Different religions: the country is a secular state and everyone is free to follow any religious doctrines as he or she may personally find necessary. Due to different religious doctrines, the church finds it difficult to reach non-Christians with its services since it must stick to its Christian principles and teachings. This implies that most beneficiaries are Christians, especially those who are the church’s members;
- There are several activities within the communities in which the church should be involved in, however, they are so many and the church is not able to satisfy all the related needs;
- The church few personnel to carry forward its activities in the communities. The church basically relies on volunteers to assist in some of its work; however, the presence of volunteers in the church is limited. This implies it has to train new volunteers in order to integrate them into it mainstream activities which take time and resources;
- The church does not engage in significant income generating activities; this leaves it at the mercy of donors and other charitable organizations in order to finance its community activities; without proper funding, the activities of the church are likely to fail or be negatively affected;
- The Methodist Church of Britain can expand its scope of services to covers issues of HIV/AIDS, youth empowerment and mentoring and reaching out to members of other religious groups;
- The church has a great opportunity to expand its community services on a global scale; there are many communities, especially in the developing nations, that would readily accept the services of an organization like Methodist Church of Britain;
- The church can form partnership with other churches and development organization in carrying out such activities as it involves in. besides, it can also collaborate with different governmental institutions;
- In order to raise more funds for its activities, the church can mobilize resources through its branches spread all the United Kingdom and the international subsidiary organizations;
- All over the nation, and the world, there are very many people who are interested in volunteering. The church should therefore make use of such volunteers in their local areas to carryout communal activities.
- The conflict that exist between the church and the leaders of the Jewish community members; this is likely to hamper its integrity and hence affect its local and international activities in various communities;
- The church is also likely to face political interference since there are non-religious organizations that are also engaged in the provision of similar services as those provided by the church; one of the strongest such organization are the political class, especially political leaders from the church’s local regions of operations;
- Economic slowdown: the church mainly depends on charity donations from members and other philanthropic organizations and individuals. However, it is likely to experience reduced contributions due to any form of economic hardships experienced by its donors;
- There are other religious groups with different doctrines also involved in community work; due to this, there is high likelihood that there will be some conflict of interest which may jeopardize its activities;
- Changes in government policies with regards to charity activities may affect the status of the church and its communal interventions. The government can potentially come up with laws that may alter the way religious organizations get involved in numerous charities.
The church works with knowledgeable volunteers who expect no monetary rewards. Besides, it has enough financial base for its local activities and also highly committed staff members in every of its department. However, it faces competition from other religious groups that practice different doctrines. The church still has many opportunities to expand its services, both spiritual and communal, to other parts of the world. Finally, the church performs well in the communities; however, it faces several threats which are political, social and economic in nature.
The Methodists Church of Britain is always involved in specific activities. The activities are well planned and each and every volunteer and staff members is charged with specific duties. In view of this, the church should always ensure that it only gets specific volunteer candidates for relevant tasks available to be performed. This will ensure that the church does not take too much time and meet extra resources in training new volunteers. Moreover, it should also ensure that activities performed are specific to the genuine needs of the members the communities in which the church works.
The church has streamlined its activities in such a way that it uses only the right amount of resources which can be measured in terms of input and output. It should also ensure that every volunteer’s work is measurable to ensure effectiveness and efficiency with which they perform their assignments. Having measurable work plan coupled with measurable allocation of resources ensure the church optimizes the utility of its available resources without strain. Besides, it will be important for the church to quantify its objectives for easy monitoring and evaluation.
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It is important that the church does not overstretch its “muscles”. It should come up with achievable activities that are set to run both short-term and long-term. For instance, it may plan that by the end of two years it should have helped 2000 families to have good houses. Setting achievable targets will also ensure that the resources
The implementation of this strategy requires sufficient resources for a given project activities. The Methodist Church of Britain has sufficient resources to ensure that it set realistic goals and objectives. In order to ensure this strategy, each volunteer and staff member should be charged with the responsibility in which he or she is most qualified and able to do without strain. Besides, all the goals and objectives of the church’s activities should be realistic in terms of applicability.
Various activities of the church that are carried out in different communities should be time based. This will allow for performance appraisal, monitoring and evaluation which will help in determining the success of every activity carried out. The church can make use of the Gantt chart to ensure all activities are planned within a specific timeframe. In fact, the organization should ask every volunteer and staff member to come up with time frame for every activity assigned. In this way, the strategy will ensure all activities are finished within recommended of specified time schedule.
As much as the church is spiritually committed in providing spiritual nourishment to its members, it should reach out to other communities where Christianity is not practiced. This will ensure that it remains true to its doctrines of impartiality while carrying out its communal activities. Besides, it should focus on providing developmental services all members of the community irrespective of whether it they belong to the church or not.
In order to be more effective, the church should decentralize its resource mobilization activities and planning. This implies that its subsidiary branches spread all over the country and the world at large should be allowed to mobilize funds and plan on how to use such funds in their local communities.
Since community development requires strong leadership, the church should focus on training individuals drawn from the communities on leadership and allow them to lead their respective communities with the guidance from the church. This means after leaders are trained, the church should only perform the task of overseeing the various activities. This will be advantageous in that the church will not have to provide leadership and at the same time fund the activities; besides, the church will be able to use fewer resources.
Moreover, the church should also pursue more partnership opportunities with various organizations, other churches and relevant government institutions in order to pull resources together for common goals and objectives within the communities (Neubert, 2000).
This discussion has been about the volunteering portfolio. It has been examining the involvement of Methodist Church of Britain in various non-spiritual activities within different communities. The discussion has examined the internal and external factors that influence the activities of the church. Besides it has done SMART analysis for the Methodist Church in general and some recommendations that are relevant in the progress of the church’s communal activities.
Volunteering has several benefits to both the members of the community and the volunteers. The communities are able to experience the act of generosity and concern from the volunteers through charitable organizations like the church. The volunteers are able to gain work experience as they engage and participate directly in the development activities within various communities. In addiction, volunteers, especially fresh college graduates, get opportunities, through volunteering, to apply knowledge gained during study period.
The church or the organizations in which volunteers work also gain a lot from volunteering. The organizations always operate on tight budgets and some times may not meet all their obligations. To maximize their services, the organizations make use of volunteers in order to reduce operation costs and the number of permanently employed personnel on payroll (Fawcett, 2005).
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