Many people think volunteering is great in theory, but tend to shy away from it in practice. I think there a few common reasons for this, and I’d like to address some of them today. If you’re at all apprehensive about joining TINFA, this post is for you.
Problem 1: I don’t have the resources.
It often seems like it takes money to achieve anything significant. If you can’t fund a classroom or buy a projector, then can you really do anything of importance? Money is, of course, very useful, but it is far from the only thing you can give. As a high school student with no disposable income, I can’t really do much in the way of donations, but I feel that I’ve contributed a lot to TINFA regardless. This fall, for instance, I spent a lot of time researching potential donors and writing grant proposals, and successfully helped secure a significant amount of funding for TINFA without spending a single cent. This is just one example, but there are innumerable other ways to help.
Problem 2: I don’t have the experience.
If you’ve never worked with a nonprofit before, or don’t know much about the issue they’re supporting, it can feel like you’re not adequately qualified to offer your help. I know this feeling all too well, and I can tell you firsthand that when it comes to volunteering, you should just ignore it. You may not be an expert on technology, or on the education system in Latin America, but as long as you are interested and willing to learn, you will be able to accomplish plenty. I don’t have any experience with graphic design, nor with speaking Spanish, but in the past few months I have successfully designed a brochure for TINFA and edited a video of some of the students TINFA works with (all of whom speak Spanish). Utilizing the skills you already have is great, but learning new skills is even better, and TINFA is definitely a place where you can learn new skills.
Problem 3: I don’t have the time.
This is probably the biggest thing holding people back from volunteering more. I know plenty of people who would love to do more volunteering, if only they weren’t so busy with school, or work, or family. I won’t lie, this thought crossed my mind as well. When I started volunteering with TINFA, I was apprehensive about the time commitment, and concerned that I wouldn’t be able to fit it in along with school and extracurriculars. However, I found that even with a tight schedule and limited free time, I was able to fit in a surprising amount of work. As long as you are willing to put in a decent amount of time and effort, there is a lot of flexibility and it is not difficult to work around any prior commitments. Furthermore, I have found that when I do work that I find genuinely important and inspiring, it is a lot easier to be productive.
Working at TINFA is a truly enriching experience, and I think it provides meaningful benefits not only to the organization and those they serve, but to the volunteers themselves. There will always be obstacles standing between you and volunteering, but hopefully I’ve convinced you that most of these obstacles are completely surmountable. I strongly encourage everyone reading to consider contributing their time to this organization, and direct you to http://www.tinfa.org/take-action/ to learn more about some of the opportunities available.