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Giving With a Purpose: How to Volunteer for Personal and Professional Development

Al Qasimi Foundation
March 31, 2017

This year has been declared the Year of Giving for the UAE, marking a renewed focus on the role of charity in society. A holistic approach to giving is now emerging, one that highlights both the societal and personal benefits of giving not only your money but also your time to the causes and people you care about.

One of the three major themes for the Year of Giving is establishing a culture of volunteerism. Volunteering helps foster personal and social responsibility, shared ownership, and a sense of community. It is a meaningful way to expand horizons, think critically and take action.

The big question is how can you volunteer in the UAE and what information should you consider beforehand?

In order to answer these questions we interviewed some of the Al Qasimi Foundation’s own volunteers. The Foundation offers volunteering opportunities for students at local universities as well as teaching a class on community engagement and volunteering for high school students. The course encourages students to research different topics, learn and practice new skills, and model service to their schools and communities. Our students have volunteered with local organizations such as the RAK Wildlife Project and visited organizations such as UNHCR to learn about volunteering on an international scale.

Here is some of the advice our volunteers have shared:

  1. Find out about ways to get involved: There are many ways to volunteer. You can start by contacting an organization about their volunteer opportunities, helping to staff an event or participate in a project. You can do a community service project, researching a need in your school or community and then helping to address it. You could raise awareness of an issue, run an information campaign to educate people. You can create a meet-up group to engage your community, host a discussion forum and come up with action plans. These activities can be done on the ground in your community or remotely on the Internet.
  2. Know why you are doing it: Are you looking to meet new people and make friends? Try something new? Learn new skills? Practice the skills you already have? Learn if your dream job is right for you? Gain valuable professional experience? Network to potentially get a job? Once you know what benefits you are looking for you can decide on an opportunity that is right for you. This will help you have a fulfilling experience that may just become a habit.
  3. Act professionally: Volunteering can be a chance to learn more about a career, get valuable work experience, and to network. “Take it seriously,” says Nisha. “To be an effective volunteer you need to be committed, treat it like a job or school, and show up on time. You need to be responsible, your role is really important, you are doing something that makes a difference for you and your community.” Ahlam, a Higher Colleges of Technology student in Ras Al Khaimah who volunteers regularly with the Foundation says, “In order to be a good volunteer and learn from your experience you need to understand your role, if something is not clear than ask. Ask, learn, then do. Make sure to take criticism and learn from what you do wrong.” “It helps you practice your skills, take the theories you learn in school and lets you practice them in a real world context. Even if you are volunteering doing something you don’t see yourself doing for a living, it still helps you learn how to work with other people and what will be expected of you in the work place.”

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”- Mahatma Gandhi

If interested in volunteering with us check the volunteering page on our website