Volunteering in Japan can be a rewarding experience allowing you to give back to the community while acquiring new skills and meeting new people. Here are brief tips for getting involved in community – please see FEW’s Community Service Directory for a more comprehensive guide on volunteering in Japan.
Deciding Your Field Of Interest
Organizations need skilled volunteers – consider what you can offer to an organization.
Here's a quick self-assessment – ask yourself these three questions:
- What are your relevant interests, skills, and experience?
- How much time do you have and how long do you want to work with a group?
- What are your language and communication skills like?
Remember that community service is a serious dedication of time and effort towards the chosen organization.
One should expect to:
- Be ready to share skills and ideas
- Learn about an organization's priorities and needs
- Be open to learning new things
- Follow through on commitments
- Meet people at events and attend volunteer orientation meetings.
Required Communication Skills
Whether or not you need Japanese language skills depends on the organization; however, many groups require some level of Japanese for basic communication. The volunteering itself is possible in English with many organizations working internationally – native English speakers are usually needed e.g. for communications and PR.
Making the First Contact
After deciding your areas of interest, it’s time to find out what kind of groups and nonprofit NGOs are available, and learning more about the problems and ways to tackle them. Talk to people in person – don’t send out a bunch of emails! Go to volunteer orientation meetings and other events run by organizations. Talking with people allows you to learn more about what they do and the people involved.
Finding Your Way To Support Community
There are usually many volunteering possibilities even inside an organization. Ask the people you meet what the organization's needs are and if your skills are a match.
Here are some ways you can support community groups: helping with event preparations, editing newsletters, translating reports, doing research, making PR materials, making an English brochure or web page, fundraising, counseling, training volunteers...the list is limitless.
Make the Commitment
Select a group or project and then stick with it! For the organization and the people in need, not showing up due to a late night in bar will have an impact.
Tips for Busy People
Perhaps your schedule does not allow you enough free time to commit on a regular basis, but there are other ways to contribute.
Invite an NGO leader to give a guest presentation at your company / association.
Distribute nonprofit materials & pamphlets to your company staff / association members.
Organize a mini-fundraiser party introducing an issue and organization over food and drinks; guests pay a party donation fee.
Make donations of items organizations need such as computers, food or office supplies.
Become a member, make cash donations and purchase organization’s products online.
Volunteering can be tremendously rewarding – you will not only make a difference in people’s lives, but you may also learn new skills, develop a deeper understanding of issues – all while meeting new people and gaining a sense of contentment.