We recently had a chat with professional Ryan, who volunteered at the Vocational Impact project in South Africa in Johannesburg for a month.
Ryan had worked in business development for several charitable organisations, including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which has a strong relationship to the Vocational Impact project in South Africa. This helped him get involved as a volunteer and put his experience as a fundraiser to use at the project centre. As he explains: “Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS is the fundraising arm of the Broadway industry and community. Each year, they raise close to $20 million, mostly through fundraisers and donations related to the Broadway shows.”
The money is then granted out to AIDS service organisations, mostly in the US, but they do have a very special grant category that goes to South Africa.
The Lion King is one of the longest running Broadway shows, it’s phenomenal, and a huge number of the actors in the show and the dancers come from South Africa.
“The Lion King also helps raise millions and millions of dollars for Broadway Cares. So, years and years ago, they decided it was only right and only fair that a considerable amount of money be given back to NGOs in South Africa. They have about 20 different grantees in South Africa that get money from Broadway Cares. The Vocational Impact South Africa project is one of the most well-known, most beloved ones, and for good reason. It’s got heart.”
There’s a lot of need in South Africa, and Ryan thinks they look towards volunteers as being able to temporarily fill those needs, whether it’s something as simple as attention, or playing with kids, or tutoring them, or even better, just bringing special skills to improve their lives, like business marketing to help the organisation grow. He was immediately at home, and always felt like he was wanted.
Ryan was pretty clear on what he wanted to do, and told them about his fundraising and business experience, and with their permission, he offered to help with whatever fundraising programmes they had, or if they didn’t have any, how could he start one up. He wanted to spend a month volunteering as part of a larger trip around Africa.
“I arrived with some idea of how I wanted to help, and instantly helped the Founding Director create a direct mail campaign to their existing donors.”
Ryan helped build a programme for people to give at a moderate level and become ‘Angels’. In the evenings, he spent about two hours doing tutoring with some of the older kids.
While Ryan was discussing his work, he also mentioned the freedom the project offers volunteers:
“It’s up to each volunteer to really take initiative and create whatever you want to create. If you want to get behind social media, or compliance and policy then there is an opportunity for you. If you want to help with fundraising and corporate CSR, then jump right in.”
Ryan said what made the project the perfect fit for him was how he immediately felt at home
“I was in touch with Vocational Impact by email for a month or so before I went. They prepared me with documents and background information. This meant I could make a start almost instantly. Everyone who walks in those doors is fully embraced by everyone, by the students, by the kids, by the staff.”
“I arrived and there was lunch set up for me, and then they took me around on a tour of the place. I think it’s hard for anyone to show up there and not get this overwhelming sense of love and community, you’re just embraced.”
Watch our interview about the first days at our project in South Africa
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Alternatively, complete an application to begin the process of volunteering, and we’ll be in touch with more details!