Every NGO would have engaged a few volunteers at one time or another. But, very few NGOs have made it their organization culture to engage the community and build upon the power of volunteering. Often, it becomes easy to hire paid staff and get the work done rather than engage volunteers from the community. Engaging volunteers has its own challenges and those who learn the art and science of engaging volunteers effectively are able to create sustainable programs and grow with the community participation.

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For the sustainability of any program, community participation is key and volunteering is a good way to begin the process. When you engage volunteers, it accomplishes the task of sensitizing the public at large on the issue the NGO is working for.When there is community participation and engagement, there is a joint ownership for the cause which ensures accountability of the NGO’s work. An added bonus is that volunteers make for cost effective and qualified man power. Volunteering also instils the spirit of ‘Seva’ (selfless service) in a large number of people and also a sense of connectedness and belongingness to the society.When more people are involved, there is an opportunity to create more positive change agents in the society which would strengthen the health of society. Solutions for a community’s problems can be evolved locally without much external interference.The need for external funding is greatly reduced. Volunteer engagement enables participation of local communities in all stages of developmental programs from need assessment-design and implementation.

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