23 May
  • By Brownie Points
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Volunteering Success | World Read Aloud Day

On a sunny Thursday, the 16th of February, we joined some of our volunteers at Zerilda Park Primary School in Lavender Hill for World Read Out Loud Day, hosted by one of our Nonprofit Partners: Learning In Reach. It was a truly unforgettable experience!

Leanne, founder of Learning In Reach (NPO) and all-round superwoman, welcomed us and told us more about Zerilda Park Primary, her organisation, and why reading is so important.

“Run by a large international NPO, LitWorld, World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and create a community of action-taking readers who demonstrate that the right to literacy belongs to all people. This day is celebrated by millions in more than 100 countries thanks to people like you who participate and spread the word worldwide!”

As I got to my designated classroom, I realised… I’ve never felt so nervous to read out loud before! Before I knew it, I was sitting on a plastic chair and looking at 20 excited faces, all waiting expectantly to hear their story. But my nerves calmed just as fast as they came: As I started reading, with all the intonations and “oohs” and “aahs” of a great storyteller, I felt my whole body relax. Seeing all the gleaming faces, I was taken back to when my mother read to me all those years ago. I asked the children to participate by telling me about the featured animals and what sounds they made. I was wonderfully impressed! Did I know all that at such a young age? Sadly, my story came to an end. I got the biggest group hug of my life, and had to hold on to the classroom wall to stay on my feet.

As I watched the other volunteers read, I recognised a look that I saw in all of their eyes. I realised that we all felt a connection to these kids. Even though we grew up in completely different worlds, today we all felt the same: The joy of reading a book, sharing a great story, and seeing the wonder in the children’s youthful eyes.

After saying goodbye to our kids, we made our way to the new school library. What a creative space! I wanted to grab a book, and sit down for a good reading session. Thanks to Learning In Reach and the collaboration with the school, the 1000+ students now have a dedicated and quiet place to read and learn.

My key takeaway from this experience is:

reading means so much more to these kids than just piecing words together.

It is a way for them to be kids, to let their imagination run wild, and to have the feeling that everything – and anything – is possible. After that day, I started prioritising time for reading. I`ve also been back to bring my class new books and read them another story.

I took the liberty of making a checklist for a successful volunteering event, from a volunteer’s point-of-view. Here are the things that Learning In Reach got right that day:

  • Prepare – Think about the purpose of your volunteering activity. Why are you doing it? Does it spread the news about your nonprofit organisation? Does it help build a volunteer list, some of which might donate to your cause? It is important to know your “why” to make sure that your beneficiaries and your volunteers will be engaged meaningfully, especially when volunteering events seem to burden you and your team. Be mindful about the experience that everyone will have.
  • Specify – Be specific about what the volunteering will entail, where it is located and what it will achieve. That’s why we at Brownie Points spend a lot of time and effort to design the volunteering process, to make sure you as a nonprofit fill in all the necessary information.
  • Share – You can have the most amazing volunteering event, but it’s all for none if people don’t know about it. Once you create a volunteering opportunity on Brownie Points, share it on social media. Save the link and send it to your volunteer mailing list. We will also help spread the good news on social media for you.
  • Guide – Volunteers, especially first-timers, are nervous. They will also be nervous about driving into an area they don’t know. Give your volunteers all the information they need to reduce anxiety and increase excitement. You can use our “description” field for this purpose. Otherwise, volunteers can still email you for more questions.
  • Engage – This goes hand-in-hand with the first point. If you have given some thought to the purpose of your volunteering and have prepared for it, your chances of engaging volunteers improve. Another way to engage them is to ask why they are volunteering. Allowing them to tell their story or give their motivation means that they are already emotionally invested. We allow volunteers to give a motivation before they apply. You can view these when vetting volunteers on Brownie Points.
  • Reward – Studies have shown that volunteers want to be rewarded in some way. Now, I’m not saying you have to take your wallet out. Many volunteers will feel rewarded simply by being able to engage with your beneficiaries and being humbled by the experience. Others, however, need a little more incentive. That’s why we enable you to reward your volunteers with brownie points, which they can use to redeem for over 60 reward vouchers. Sometimes it’s just the thought that counts.
  • Get feedback – Once you’ve rewarded your volunteers, Brownie Points will ask them to give feedback on their experience and if appropriate, how it could have been better. Let us know if you would like access to these insights. They might come in handy.

For some more information on how to run volunteering opportunities through Brownie Points, check out our How To article.

 

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