Best practices for hosting volunteers from around the world

Experteers can help you address major challenges, seize opportunities, and further your social impact reach. This guide helps you understand where to find an Experteer, and best practices for hosting them.


#1 Identify Your Biggest Needs

Free is not always good. Hosting a volunteer merely because they are free can actually harm your organization. The first thing you need to ensure is that you actually have a clear need for a volunteer. Read this guide we published in Stanford Social Innovation Review for help.

MovingWorlds Skilled Volunteer Decision Tree - Jan 2018

To help identify the biggest gaps in your organization, and to screen if a volunteer is the right solution, use ourskills gap assessment (en Espanol aqui).

#2: Scoping Your Project

In order to have a successful volunteer, you must have a well defined project.

How do you know if your project is well defined? If you can answer YES to at least 5 of the following 6 questions, you have a project that is ready for a skilled volunteer:

  1. Does the task have a specific outcome and measurable goal?
  2. Does your team understand how achieving the outcome will help your organization make an impact?
  3. Do you have an estimate of how long the project will take to complete?
  4. Are the skills needed to achieve the outcome clearly defined and limited to 2 skills (max 3)?
  5. Can you clearly list the stakeholders needed to achieve the outcome, and how they will work with the volunteer?
  6. Are you able to commit time to onboarding and managing the volunteer?
  7. Are you able to allocate resources to support the completion of this project?
  8. Are you able to allocate resources to support integrating the results of this project into your organization after it is complete?

Need help with this? Take our skills gap assessment (en Espanol aqui

#3: Posting a Project

When you are posting a project to host a professional volunteer (aka Experteer) the more defined and informative the project is, the better the Experteer and the outcome of the project. In addition to being specific about your project by following the scoping tips above, also include:

1. STORY: What is the story of your organization. How did it come to exist, and how does it make an impact. 2. PICTURES: Experteers want to have a sense of what they are walking into, have a visual understanding of you the Host Organization and its impact. Experteers are more attracted to those opportunities. Pictures are worth a thousand words. Be sure to share links to pictures about your organization, its location, its team, the people it benefits, and the work itself. 3. TEAM INFORMATION: One of the most exciting parts about Experteering is the opportunity to meet new people. Be ready to share more information about the other people on your team who the Experteer might work with. 4. LOCAL INFORMATION: Experteers are looking for unique, immersive experiences. Be prepared to share interesting information about your organization, the city it works in, and about your country. 5. CULTURAL NUANCES: As an Experteer walks into a host organization, they are walking into a new world. Be prepared to provide information about specific cultural nuances that you believe might impact the Experteer’s work.

If you post your project on MovingWorlds, read our project-posting requirements.

#4: Selecting an Experteer

Sometimes, when you request volunteers, you might get more applications than you have room to host. If one specific project has received multiple applications from Experteers, here are some tips to follow to help you choose which one will be best for your organization:

COMMUNICATE

Make sure to speak with your candidates before making a decision. A resume might match a position, however the ability for the host organization and the Experteer to communicate well is the most important part of working together.

SKILL ALIGNMENT

Ensure that Experteer’s skills align with your needs. Although we do see original project deliverables changed slightly to fit an Experteer’s background, do not try and force-fit your needs to their skills, or their skills to your needs, if the gap is too wide.

Trying to prioritize your internal needs? Take our skills gap assessment, available in both English and in Spanish.

ORGANIZATION FIT

Stay grounded, and make a decision based on the best person for your specific project, not on the person with the most impressive CV. When you have multiple candidates, don’t only consider the person with the most experience, but rather the person whose skills will best support the specific deliverables you have outlined.

#5: Planning to Host

It is critical that you spend ample time planning in partnership with your Experteer before they commit to Experteering. When you plan, make sure to:

  • PLAN TOGETHER: Work together to further scope and plan your project. Both the host organization and the Experteer bring different expertise that need to be aligned.
  • OVER COMMUNICATE: More communication between you and the Experteer leads to a better clarified project, which creates a stronger outcome and better experience
  • USE EXPERTEERING PLANNING GUIDE: Complete all sections of the MovingWorlds Experteering Planning Guide and sign to make a formal partnership
  • DEDICATE TIME: The more time you spend on planning the project the more successful and sustainable the project will be

#6: Hosting an Experteer

Hosting an Experteer from another country is an exciting opportunity. Not only will your organization benefit from the Experteer’s time, but it will also be a unique opportunity for your team to network with someone from a different culture. This Host Preparation Checklist will make sure that you are fully prepared to host your Experteer. In addition, here are some other tips

  1. PROVIDE AN ORIENTATION Share information about your city, country, culture, organization, beneficiaries, and work team.
  2. PLAN FOR THE LONG TERM Set success as something that happens after the Experteer leaves – up to a year after that.
  3. SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS Refer to your Planning Guide and confirm project objectives for working hours & location, communication preferences, and project delivery.
  4. OFFER AND ACCEPT FEEDBACK Have scheduled, periodic feedback sessions to share ways you can work better together.
  5. BE A HOST Invite and engage your Experteer in local food, experiences, and/or activities.
  6. BE ETHICAL Make sure to abide by ethical practices within your organization and while interacting with and hosting an Experteer.

#7: Understand Culural Differences

Experteers often come from locations with different cultural differences. To prepare to work effectively across cultures, we recommend:

  1. Discuss your cultural differences and preferences durin your Exerteering Project Planning process
  2. Read this article about managing across cultures
  3. Use the Hofstede Country Cultural Comparison guide to compare differences across cultures
  4. Watch the Danger of a Single Story

Additional Resources

If you are looking for an Experteer, it’s likely you are working on scaling your social impact organization. The following resources are some of our favorites that not only help you work well with people from diverse backgrounds, but also to help you and your organization accomplish its mission:

  • READ THIS ARTICLE: Skilled-Volunteering 101: Is Your Organization Ready to Engage? This handbook helps organizations answer questions related to their readiness to engage skills-based volunteers and think about the characteristics of good skills-based volunteering project. It gives examples of successful engagements and talks about resources available for organizations to use to assess their readiness.
  • WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO: What It Takes to Be a Great Leader. In this video Roselinde Torres describes 25 years of observing truly great leaders at work, and shares the three simple but crucial questions that would-be company chiefs need to ask to thrive in the future.
  • TAKE THIS ONLINE COURSE: Project Management: Essential Tools and Techniques. Volunteer management is essentially good project management. This simple, fast, and FREE course provides a good introduction to project management and includes supplementary materials such as ready to use template and tools. In this course you will discover how to efficiently lead projects by learning tools and techniques to manage scope, time and resources.
  • READ THIS BOOK: Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding--And How We Can Improve the World Even More. In this book, Charles Kenny who shows how the spread of cheap technologies, such as vaccines and bed nets, and ideas, such as political rights, has transformed the world. He also shows that by understanding this transformation, we can make the world an even better place to live.