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Taken from http://www.bewelcome.org/wiki/BeVolunteer
Our mission is to provide a platform for hospitality and culture exchange and to manage the volunteers involved. The safety of our members and their privacy is our main concern.
With members from many different countries and cultural backgrounds we highly value the challenge and opportunity to learn from each other and openly listen to different opinions, critics and suggestions.
For us the "how" of working together is of key importance and our work style is reflected in our work ethics and organisational values. It is our desire and measure of success to be seen as an organisation where members work together in an enriching, democratic, innovative, friendly and motivating way.Aim and Objectives
Our principal aim is the volunteer management and project development of BeWelcome, a community - platform which promotes hospitality and cultural exchange.
In order to reach this aim we have four objectives:
1) to establish a democratic work environment
We want to benefit from the advantages of a democratic organisation as democracy guarantees many of our organisational values. To make sure the democracy works well we want to follow the principle of subsidiarity: discussions, decisions and actions are done on organizational levels only as high as necessary but as low as possible, i.e. individuals first, then teams, then Board of Directors (BoD), then General Assembly (GA). So the best way to describe our structure is neither a representative nor a basic democracy, but a participative one.
2) to build a transparent organisation
For active volunteer contribution we want to be as transparent as possible. For this we want to make organisational data such as our statutes, the general assembly minutes and our financial statement publicly available. We will openly communicate with you through this wiki page (our library), the forum (our discussion place), news blogs and whatever you suggest us to do.
3) to encourage active member participation
Without our members we are nothing. They are the reason why this organisation exists. We are aware of that and want to show you the benefits of volunteer participation. We want to support and welcome all kinds of volunteers; some very idealistic, others more pragmatic and work oriented.
4) to build a reliable legal and organisational structure
It is important that our members and volunteers can freely contribute without having to worry about legal issues or getting lost in the organisational structure. Our last objective therefore is to provide the legally secure workplace and encourage you not only to understand the different organisational bodies but also to participate in them - if you want.
In the following we want to summarize our strategies and give you an overview of the more practical aspects of BeVolunteer.Collective work. One of the core ideas of BeVolunteer is its collective character. Volunteers from many different cultural backgrounds and countries working together, using the same tools and following the rules of the organisation - volunteers and members full of goodwill and energy. We really believe that this is a perfect start to create many great projects and to follow our ambitious dreams. None of us would have the capability to either envisage or realize that project. The genius people would miss courage, the brave would miss energy, the energetic would miss analytical skills. At BeVolunteer we follow the understanding that a "collective" is much stronger than the most intelligent individual. This way we invite every volunteer or member to share ideas and feedback - however little it may be - and even if one of us makes an error - there will always be someone to warn and correct.
In BeVolunteer, there will be a lot of discussions! If they interest you, you will be able to take part. If they don't, you can be sure that others will, and you might prefer to work on something that interests you. But our discussions are only the basis for action and especially our team coordinators and experienced volunteers will make sure that the discussions will come to an end, maybe suggesting a poll or to prepare ideas for implementation.
Discussions, you might now say, are time and energy consuming. Yes, they are. In the end it is up to you to make your work area, your team as efficient and satisfying for yourself as possible.Democracy. You will have already read this word a few times on this site. It is a big word with many different implications, so what exactly does it mean for us?
Do you have an idea of what our project(s) (i.e. the result of our work) will be in one, five or ten years? Right now we do have dreams, but not much more. How can we be sure that our work will stay within the lines we set for it - free hospitality exchange? Democracy is an answer. The way our project will go will be decided by a group in a democratic way. Since this group will be constituted of volunteers like us, it makes the risk much smaller than if it was in the hands of only one or very few persons. Please note that it is not the Board of Directors (BoD) who decides but there is a constant process of feedback or control of BoD through 'normal' members gathered in the General Assembly (GA) and vice versa. So democracy is also a warranty that special powers are not abused. The BoD is abusing its powers? - the members kick it out. There are strong disagreements? - the volunteers decide.TransparencyTransparencyis one of the main objectives of BeVolunteer. Trust and transparency are dependent on each other. No trust without transparency, no transparency without trust. That's why any BeVolunteer policy will be published, any "power" will be described, any decision documented and shared.
Caring about transparency not only prevents the organisation BeVolunteer from abuse of its own members but also is a way to make sure everybody involved is integrated into a process of constant evaluation, feedback and improvement.Working effectively. Talking with each other and deciding together in an ethical and transparent way is very nice, but our aim is to move, to build a project: not only to dream about a better world. Thus we designed processes which will help to ensure our efficient work progress.
The Board of Directors is an example: a group of annually elected volunteers whose task it is to keep a global view of what is going on in BeVolunteer and Bewelcome. Those elected volunteers also have the power to make decisions without having to ask everybody before. This is necessary to ensure efficiency for every day work. To counterbalance this power, the BoD has to report all of its actions (transparency) so that the members of the organisation (the General Assembly) can take react if they believe wrong decisions were taken. Those actions of the BoD refer to pushing conversations, making sure that all arguments are expressed and point of views heard, checking that no abuse or manipulation whatsoever is happening. The BoD helps volunteers to work on what they like, and invite new people to contribute to the project.Our work areas: Parliament, Library, Teams Right now you are reading in our "library", the wiki pages of BeVolunteer. Here you will find all documentation and answers to most of your questions concerning our organisation, its philosophy, values and the legal documents (statutes).
Our forum is the "parliament" - a place where volunteers present ideas, discuss them and develop them towards implementation. Some areas of the forum are only for specific teams like the "abuse team" - they might be protected and not accessible for security reasons. Generally we wish that any volunteer can make his or her small contribution to help the development of the project - or just to get informed.
The teams of the project BeWelcome are the core center of activity. They have a special area to work on and are normally managed by one or two coordinators. Some teams require a bit of experience (like the legal team), others are open to everybody interested and a perfect way to learn new skills ( pr and communications team, for example). Please take into account that EVERY member of BeWelcome is invited to volunteer for a team, independently from a membership with BeVolunteer, a legally based organisation.
BeWelcome - the project, BeVolunteer - the organisation behind it. You want to know more? Have a look at our history.
You still don't know what BoD, GA, wiki, BV, BW and the sorts mean? Have a look at our BV dictionary!Strategic information. Our image and how we see ourselves From the very beginning of our project - in fact even before it officially started - we received a lot of feedback from active volunteers and members of networks such as the Hospitality Club and Couch Surfing, but also from the peace organisation Servas and independent people. And it was a long and hard way to find our identity (in fact it is an ongoing process as it changes with the people involved). Anxiety Often the first reaction when hearing about this new project was anxiety. People who found their social network, friends and a more or less reliable infrastructure in HC or CS were (and might still be) afraid of the new, the "revolution". Fearing that the new project (BeWelcome) might influence or even destroy the status quo of their network.
BeWelcome does not want anybody to feel anxious but invites people to get active, to understand the reason for changes and accept it as a necessary step for development and growth. Without change no evolution.Competition Mainly from very active volunteers of HC anger and fear about BeWelcome as the "new competitor" made it impossible for them to take a step back and critically evaluate the processes they follow.
BeWelcome does not see itself as competitor. The history of BeVolunteer explains why the new project started to exist at the beginning and why many volunteers of HC and CS focused their energy on something new. After all, we believe that a project entirely run by volunteers needs an infrastructure which follows the needs of those volunteers. No personal enrichment, no closed leadership circle.Fantastic project! Let me join! We had many of those reactions and this is the reason why many volunteers work on BeWelcome. The idea, the work attitude and the infrastructure fit their requirements. And they know that they can really make a change; through feedback, active volunteering or even as elected member of the executive committee of BeVolunteer, the non-profit organisation behind BeWelcome. Wait and see Other feedback we receive is the "wait and see" mentality. Members are not sure yet if the project will be a success so they wait a bit and step in when the primary work is done. Nothing wrong with that, of course things would move faster if they contributed with their time, energy and expertise :-) Self-perception We are a very young project and a dynamic one. This means that many things change and evolve, new members and volunteers bring new input and all of us are constantly learning - from mistakes, if necessary. Our volunteers come from entirely diverse backgrounds which is enriching, but can be a danger too. That's why we discussed and finalized our mission statement, our organisational values and all the other documents you find on the main page. However, the feedback we receive from members, friends and detractors are the most valuable way to understand how others see us and how we can improve ourselves. Monitoring and evaluating our success We are still at the beginning of the project, most features are not implemented yet and some teams need to be managed, structured and activated. We need experts - and with the experts also comes our chance to evaluate what we do. Inside the teams the team coordinators will constantly monitor the development within their area; they are also responsible for the success of their team, the work atmosphere and management of the team members. The members themselves will tell us what is good and what is not and ahs the executive committee the Board of Directors of BeVolunteer will discuss success or failure of reaching our aims and objectives and find solutions - together with the volunteers, members and friends of the organisation and the project BeWlecome. And finally: BeVolunteer - a volunteer heaven? No, BeVolunteer is not the perfect solution for all our problems. We don't offer predefined processes you only need to follow without effort and risk. What we offer is a platform to work together and learn from each other. A platform to expand your network and make friends. A platform where people from many different backgrounds meet and build bridges - for themselves and others. Bridges between people, cultures and countries. Evolution. Peace. A volunteer heaven?
- Michael O' Regan
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