Help others, be useful to someone or institution, donate time, money or work. Be supportive or volunteer? It doesn't matter if the work is punctual or with a defined frequency. Doing good is what matters. The volunteer, according to the United Nations, "is the young person or adult who, due to his/her personal interest and civic spirit, dedicates part of his/her time, without any compensation, to various forms of activities, organized or not, of social welfare or other fields.
According to the latest official data released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, in Portuguese) (IBGE), in 2019 voluntary work was reduced by 4% compared to the same period the previous year. At the time, 6.9 million people stated they do volunteering work. This means that only 4.3% of the Brazilian population does some volunteering activity, even in an individual way. A much smaller number than countries like the United States, where at least 20% of the population is officially committed to this type of action.
In times of pandemic, however, solidarity has emerged in the population. The digital social platform Atados, which connects people to volunteering opportunities in social causes (https://www.atados.com.br), compared the period from March 16 to June 30, 2020 with the same period of 2019. And it verified that there was an increase of 271,3% of opportunities of distance vacancies in relation to the same period last year. During the period analyzed in 2020, 17,050 registrations were recorded in volunteering vacancies and accesses to the site increased by 147.2%. The NGOs registration had an increase of 49.3%, when 233 organizations became part of the site. Moreover, in this period, the platform, which has been operating for eight years, began the process of national expansion focusing on Paraná and Bahia, which are the states with the most registrations, after São Paulo (where it operates since 2012) and Rio de Janeiro (since 2015).
The quarantine has changed the profile of volunteering vacancies, since help is now at a distance, and has shown that the current crisis has increased the population's sense of solidarity. Some people organized themselves to start donation projects, others strengthened the connection they already had with the activity and started to contribute even more.
Anyone can apply to be a volunteer. There is no prerequisite, just choose an area of expertise that is more interesting for those who want to donate or participate in any group in the company where you work or community that lives. The activities can take place in day care centers, nursing homes, hospitals, penitentiaries, NGOs or even on the streets. The field of action can be social, in the health, cultural, educational, environmental areas, among others.
The first step is to identify a cause that represents the values in which the person believes. From there, one should look for an organization, sector or community where one can act in the activity. In many cases, the contribution may be offered at a distance.
Volunteering work brings benefits to those who receive and also to those who donate. In addition, it can help to get job openings, since the activities performed can develop skills considered important in job interviews, such as citizenship, relationships, important contacts, discovery of new skills and make the person feel more useful and expand personal development. Therefore, it is recommended that volunteering activities be inserted in the curricula.
The experience provided by engaging in charitable activities is interesting not only for young people at the beginning of their careers, but also for professionals who are migrating from areas or those who have already passed through the market or are unemployed.
According to IBGE data, 90.7% of the people who did volunteering work did so through companies, organizations or institutions. Neoenergia Group is an example of a company that offers its employees a Volunteering Program to help those who need it most. Even with the challenges posed by the pandemic, Neoenergia launched the International Volunteering Week, a global initiative of the Iberdrola Group, its shareholder and controller, held between September 19 and 26, 2020.
Through a webinar, all employees learned about the available opportunities, which were adapted to the new reality, and attended a lecture by Transforma Brasil, which is a Civil Society Organization supported by the company. Nine initiatives were offered, all to be carried out from the employees' own homes, ranging from storytelling and environmental education workshops to gymkhanas and public areas cleaning up.
This is the third consecutive year that the company is part of this worldwide event. This year's theme is: "Committed to the environment, inclusion and social emergency". For one week, activities will be promoted to encourage the engagement of the group's employees. The actions take place in the five countries where the company operates: Brazil (Neoenergia), Spain (Iberdrola), United States (Avangrid), Mexico (Iberdrola Mexico) and United Kingdom (Scottish Power).
The best is that it is not only in the International Volunteering Week that employees can participate in charitable actions. The Volunteering Program is permanent and offers opportunities through its own online platform. In addition, Neoenergia also has a virtual space, in partnership with Transforma Brasil, with vacancies offered directly by NGOs. The platform offers opportunities in Brazilian institutions facilitating engagement. From March to August 2020, during the pandemic, the program had 685 volunteers, who participated in 38 actions in six states, benefiting 58 organizations.
Neoenergia links volunteering work to the five Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) promoted by the United Nations which are the same commitments adopted by the company. The company's mission is related to SDGs 7 (clean and affordable energy) and 13 (action against global climate change). In addition, the opportunities offered are part of SDGs 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality) and 10 (reduction of inequalities).
Access to Neoenergia's Volunteering Portal:
For Neoenergia´s employees: voluntariado.neoenergia.com
Access to Transforma Brasil:
For society in general: www.transformabrasil.com.br