Learning with Friends
Vietnamese NGO representative spends a week with the Singapore International Foundation to learn about attracting, mobilising and managing volunteers.
Vietnamese NGO, Supporting Community Development Initiatives (SCDI), aims to support and empower marginalised groups such as the HIV positive, sex workers and drug addicts.
“These groups face a lot of stigma and discrimination. Our NGO helps bring their voices to the government by arranging policy dialogues, meetings with government staff and advocacy work,” said Ms Le Thi Thanh Ha, deputy director of SCDI.
One of the ways that SCDI, established in 2010, hopes to expand community support in Vietnam is by mobilising volunteers. Ms Ha spent five days with peers at the SIF in September finding out about its volunteer management system that keeps hundreds of volunteers engaged and updated.
The visit kicked off with a session on SIF’s seven-step Volunteer Management system which covers recruitment, screening and selection. SIF shared how it publicises volunteer vacancies, how to manage a volunteer database and get feedback via surveys.
Ms Ha also met with Margaret Thevarakom, Director of International Volunteering, who shared with her the evolution of SIF’s volunteer management system over the 16 years she has been with the organisation. Patricia Miller, Deputy Director of International Volunteering, shared with Ms Ha her experience managing donors and funders.
Said Ms Ha at the conclusion of her week here, “SIF has a comprehensive framework and system. Each staff has a clear function. There are guidelines, policies and clear procedures. For example, to engage and appreciate volunteers, there are networking events for the volunteers every quarter, appreciation evenings and grants.”
She says she has also learned more about the value of a strong communications strategy. Speaking about the video clip of the Water for Life programme: “When old woman [in the video] says ‘Water is life’ there is no need to say anything else. It shows that they are real people, this is a real story.”
When she returns home to Vietnam, she plans to share with colleagues what SIF peers shared with her. One element she plans to highlight is the value of coordination. “The coordination between partners, donors, volunteers and staff is very important. Internal communication as well, for example other colleagues in the organisation are told what people are doing through an events calendar,” she said.
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