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Information Support for Volunteer Actions

Region: Baltics, Central and Eastern Europe, Lithuania
Author: Evelina Jakutye, Kaunas NGO Support Center
Consortium Member: Baltic Ecological Programs Office (ECOLOGIA)
Status: Needs Funding Budget: $2200 Collected: $1070 Needs: $1130
Goal: To promote volunteering culture among community members in Kaunas, Lithuania; to increase professionalism of volunteer coordinators
Comment: By supporting this project, you will confirm the need and necessity of voluntarism which is just developing in Lithuania
Donors: Tracy Erman, Yukon Territory, Canada [October 2002]; Jan and Nick Vasilius, Arizona [December 2007]


The Kaunas NGO Support Center is a non-profit organization working for the development of civic society, improvement of the activities of non-governmental organizations and prosperity to the whole third sector. It was established in 1997 to support, promote and strengthen non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Kaunas city and region (Kaunas is the second largest city of Lithuania). At the moment, Kaunas NGO Support Center serves more than 400 NGOs working mainly in social, educational, cultural and health fields. The Center runs 6 programs. These are:

Project need
The idea of a Volunteering Promotion program came up after getting results of our NGO needs research, completed in December 2000. The survey showed that voluntary organizations lack:
The Volunteering Promotion program aims to meet these needs by providing:
  1. Training (for volunteer coordinators and volunteers);
  2. Consulting (leaders and volunteer project managers on legal volunteer work issues; volunteering job possibilities in Lithuania and in foreign countries);
  3. Information support (database for potential volunteers and organizations; volunteer management library; direct mailing);
  4. Networking (working meetings; conferences; partnership possibilities).
"Information support to volunteering action" is a part of the Volunteering Promotion Program. The project seeks to satisfy information needs of volunteer groups and organizations:
  1. By providing special literature on volunteer management (library);
  2. Information about volunteer work possibilities (database for potential volunteers and organizations);
  3. Information about specialized seminars, trainings, meeting for volunteers (direct mailing);
  4. Information about networking and partnership possibilities (working meetings and discussions).
Project goals:
Objectives of the project:
Project duration 12 months

Activities

1. Identifying volunteer organizations' needs (During 12 months of the project implementation): - Visits to volunteer organizations (2-3 organizations per week; 60 and more organizations per year)
There are more than 250 NGOs active in social, health, educational and other work in Kaunas city. One half of all organizations are youth organizations. During these visits, our staff will clarify their information access problems and preferences. For example, if organization doesn't have an Internet access, and prefers information to be delivered by post, or feels the lack of volunteer management literature (or training) on a specific topic - these needs will be taken into account during implementation of the project steps or other projects. Direct communications with organizations' leaders and volunteers will enable us to introduce Kaunas NGO Support Center work, and describe the situation in other organizations. Finally, meeting people is the first step to start creating common information system for voluntary organizations. Team: 4 volunteers

2. Project promotion activities
Project promotion activity will increase awareness about voluntary work possibilities, voluntary organizations and volunteering idea in general. Promotion tools: brochures, posters, business cards, articles in NGO newspapers, direct mailings, etc. Project promotion work will start one month after the project beginning.
Team: 4 volunteers and staff members

3. Database of potential volunteers and organizations. The "Database of NGOs in Kaunas city and region" started in Kaunas NGO Support Center in 1999. It provides a wide range of information: organization name and address; establishment date; legal status; members; main projects; mission and working directions of organization, etc. With constant updates, the database could be used for direct mailing, printing NGO catalogues, presentations, etc. Installation of database of potential volunteers and organizations has two purposes: 1) it will provide information about free voluntary work placements for person willing to become a volunteer; 2) it will serve as a list of potential volunteers available for voluntary organization projects. The activity also includes matching potential volunteers with organizations that might meet their interests. Team: 2 volunteers

4. Working meetings and discussions
The project seeks to enhance partnership and networking of volunteer groups and organizations. Meetings and discussions with leaders of voluntary organizations and groups will help to share their experience, knowledge and ideas of common work. It is planned to arrange four meetings.

5. Free consultations
This activity contains regular and free of charge consultations for voluntary organizations and interested individuals on the topics such as registration, establishment, development of activities, legal issues, project management, NGO book keeping, etc. Professional staff members will provide consultations at Kaunas NGO Support Center's office. Timetable of every consultation will be agreed in advance.

6. Direct mailing (phone calls, faxes, e-mails, post)

7. Library
The Center has a small library (about 400 books) on general NGO issues. Library is free, and open to organization volunteers, students and interested community members. Updating the library and magazines will increase information on specific volunteer management topics. This activity is necessary as voluntary organizations can't afford new materials due to the high prices.
Library hours: 9.00 - 18.00, Monday - Friday.

8. Presentation of project results and evaluation of the project.
Public presentation of project results (during a conference; and in informational bulletins "Stage for non-governmental organizations" and "Third Sector") will lead to:

Results and continuation of the project
As it was mentioned above, one of the main aims of the project is to enhance partnership and networking of volunteer groups and organizations in the field of volunteering. With no possibility to share working experience (methods, principals) and information we hardly can expect growth and effectiveness of the voluntary work within community. Networking and partnership development (common projects, common problem solving) will strengthen the Volunteering Promotion program.

Also it’s clear that volunteer organizations should adopt constant changes of the information environment (new technologies, working methods, foreign experience). This task is too tough for small voluntary organizations who are providing services for local community and not worrying about organization capacity development issues. To solve this problem – “Information support for volunteering action” –will meet the essential needs of voluntary organizations.

Budget
Office supplies, utilities $200
Direct mailing costs (Telephone, fax, Internet, postage) $350
Library costs$500
(Purchasing books from Volunteer Energy Resource catalogue;
subscription to Volunteering Magazine / The National Center of Volunteering, London)
Stationery (Paper, markers, flip-chart paper, etc.) $100
Prizes for project volunteers (Sweets, greeting cards, flowers, etc.) $100
Volunteers’ out-of-pocket costs (Monthly public transportation tickets, etc.) $100
Project presentation costs(Brochures, posters, business cards, copying) $600
Other costs (unexpected) $50
Subtotal: $2000
Virtual Foundation administrative fee (10 %) $200
Total cost of the project $2200