Many of us, when thinking about What is volunteering, probably remember that recently on the street he was asked to throw a donation into a can. Of course, this is not a bad association – public fundraising is an activity in which volunteers often get involved. However, it does not exhaust the topic of unpaid, disinterested work for another human being. The twenty-first century is a booming time for volunteering. According to data from the Central Office, every third inhabitant of the country over the age of 15 is involved in such activities. The trust towards non-governmental organizations and the volunteers themselves is also growing year by year. This data is cause for satisfaction. After all, volunteering is not only an important activity from a social point of view, but also an excellent form of gaining valuable experience, which can be boasted in your CV.
Table of Contents
- What is volunteering?
- Who is a volunteer?
- Where can a volunteer work?
- Who do volunteers help?
- What work can a volunteer do?
- What are the rights and obligations of a volunteer?
- What qualities should a volunteer have?
- How to find volunteering for yourself?
- Why is it worth being a volunteer?
What is volunteering?
Volunteering is a free, conscious and disinterested activity for the benefit of others, going beyond family, friend and colleague circles (helping parents, sister or friend is not volunteering). The rules of employment and work of volunteers are specified in the Act on Public Benefit and Volunteer Work. It is worth emphasizing that volunteers and entities benefiting from their support are not subject to the provisions of the Labor Code – the work of a volunteer is not, within the meaning of these provisions, an employment relationship, and thus does not count towards the number of years of service.
Who is a volunteer?
A volunteer is a natural person who works:
- Free of charge – does not receive any remuneration for the work performed,
- Selflessly – does not expect material or non-material benefits from the work performed,
- Voluntarily – the decision to be a volunteer is made by her voluntarily and without being coerced by other people,
- Consciously – when taking up work, he knows that he will not receive remuneration for it and accepts this state of affairs.
There is no legal minimum or maximum age for volunteers. According to the act, anyone who is willing can volunteer. Minors must, of course, obtain the appropriate consent of their parents or guardians. Each organization or institution employing volunteers may also specify in its own regulations who can work for it.
Where can a volunteer work?
Not everyone can benefit from the support of volunteers. This privilege was reserved for the legislator only for those entities which, in general, do not act to gain material benefits. The Act lists 4 groups of entities authorized to employ volunteers:
- non-governmental organizations (e.g. associations and foundations) and religious organizations, associations of local government units, social cooperatives, joint-stock companies, limited liability companies and sports clubs not operating in order to make a profit – volunteers may be employed to support tasks carried out as part of statutory activities, in particular in the field of public benefit activities, with the exception of business activities,
- public administration bodies (e.g. ministers, voided, local government), with the exception of their economic activity
- organizational units subordinate to public administration authorities or supervised by these authorities (e.g. schools, kindergartens, theaters, museums), with the exception of economic activity conducted by these entities
- healthcare entities within the meaning of the provisions on medical activity in the scope of medical activity performed by them.
As you can see, volunteers can only be involved in activities that serve socially useful purposes (i.e. from the sphere of so-called public tasks), and not to multiply the assets of companies or institutions. When establishing a voluntary cooperation, pay attention to whether the entity that wants to hire you has the right to do so at all. There are known cases of companies that try to recruit volunteers in an unauthorized way.
Due to the length of cooperation, volunteering can be divided into action volunteering and long-term volunteering. Action volunteers engage in single, often repetitive, events, e.g. fundraising, food collection, forest cleaning. Action volunteering is, for example, participation in the finals of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity.
Long-term volunteering is usually about systematic, regular work. The places where such volunteers can be found most often are:
- Social welfare homes,
- Care and nursing centers,
- Homes and clubs for seniors,
- Orphanages and care and education centers,
- Environmental clubs,
- Museums and community centers,
- Animal shelters.
Who do volunteers help?
The aforementioned sphere of public tasks includes activities for the benefit of various groups of people in need. These are among others:
- Disabled people,
- People in a difficult life situation,
- Victims of catastrophes, natural disasters, armed conflicts and wars,
- People of retirement age,
- Children and adolescents staying in foster care,
- People at risk of social exclusion (e.g. long-term unemployed),
- National and ethnic minorities,
Volunteers also support important social goals with their work, such as:
- Health protection and promotion
- Equal rights for men and women
- Development of science and education
- Culture, art and national heritage
- Maintaining traditions, promoting patriotic attitudes
- Ecology and animal protection
- Supporting inventiveness, innovation and economic development
- Public order and safety
- Consumer rights
What work can a volunteer do?
Volunteers are entrusted with various tasks, including those requiring specialist knowledge. Even though a volunteer does not receive remuneration for his work, he must be honest and reliable in his / her duties. According to the law, he is not allowed to undertake work that would exceed his skills or qualifications.
Activities frequently undertaken by volunteers include:
Collecting money into cans – NOTE:
- Each public fundraiser must be reported to the Ministry of Interior and Administration, and you, as volunteers, must have an identifier with a consent number, which you can present.
- Collecting food for the poor .
- Help in learning for children from families in a difficult life situation
- Walking the dogs in the shelter
- Providing meals to patients in hospices and hospitals
- Assisting seniors in making purchases, dealing with matters at the post office or office
- Playing with children in orphanages
- Spending time with patients of children’s wards in hospitals
- Running temporary homes for homeless animals
- Organizing activities for children in community centers
What are the rights and obligations of a volunteer?
As a volunteer, you should be aware of your basic rights and be aware of the responsibilities you assume. This knowledge will save you from unnecessary problems.
A volunteer has the right to:
Obtaining a written certificate and / or opinion on the work performed, Conclude a written agreement on voluntary work with the entity using its work, if the period of cooperation is longer than 30 days,
- Receive information on the risks and safety rules related to the performed work,
- Safe and hygienic working conditions,
- Covering the costs of business trips and allowances (e.g. the cost of travel to the hospital where he works),
- Obtain insurance against accidents, if the period of cooperation is up to 30 days (in the case of longer work of a volunteer, it is covered by insurance from ZUS under the Act on provisions against accidents or occupational diseases arising in special circumstances),
- Covering the costs of treatment, if he was delegated to work abroad during a natural disaster, catastrophe, armed conflict or war,
- Obtain information about your rights and obligations.
- The volunteer is obliged to perform work in accordance with the concluded agreement, and to undertake only the work for which he has the appropriate qualifications.
What qualities should a volunteer have?
Being a volunteer is a really responsible role. It is true that you do not receive remuneration for it, but the charitable nature of the activities it covers requires a serious approach. Remember that on the other side there is always someone who counts on your help – a senior, a child, a pet or a person with whom you are socially conducting a joint research project.
The characteristics of a good volunteer are:
- Good manners
Volunteers are expected to adhere to the highest ethical standards, which are often set individually by organizations in the so-called ethical volunteer card.
How to find volunteering for yourself?
Finding the right volunteer job for you may not be easy. Don’t be discouraged if you fail to find an activity that consumes and satisfies you the first time. Before starting work, think about:
- What group or goal would you like to work for?
- Do you prefer to work in a group, in pairs or alone?
- How much time can you spend on volunteering a week?
- What are your strengths that you could use in volunteering?
- What are your limitations?
Finding the answers to these questions will help you set the direction of your voluntary work search and avoid frustration resulting from, for example, undertaking activities inconsistent with your personality traits. Job offers for volunteers are available on the websites of local organizations and institutions, including social media. Announcements can also be found on the websites. There is also another path. If you know an organization or institution whose mission is close to you and which is not openly recruited, you can apply for it yourself. Perhaps your enthusiasm will be noticed and you will manage to establish cooperation.
Why is it worth being a volunteer?
Volunteering is an activity that can bring a lot of good to your life. It certainly enables the development of both personality and specific competences. It allows you to develop the desired qualities, such as diligence and responsibility, as well as acquire valuable skills from scratch. Many organizations invest in their volunteers by organizing valuable and interesting trainings for them. People with experience as volunteers also admit that such work positively influences their self-esteem and self-esteem. It also allows you to feel needed and establish new relationships. From the point of view of the professional career of a student or student, volunteering allows you to gain first experience, get to know the realities of the industry with which we associate our future, and also “tread” the path to the first internship or job. Volunteering in your CV is proof that you are hardworking, ambitious and committed people who engage in useful activities free of charge, and such an employee is a real treasure!