Volunteers fill many key full- and part-time positions, and come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are industry employees or retirees. Some are college students looking for technical experience, academic credit, an internship, or a missions trip. When a married IT person volunteers, the spouse often volunteers in some capacity or works elsewhere to supplement their income.
How IT Volunteering Works
Volunteers work on-site or remotely, full- or part-time, continuously or seasonally or on a per-task basis. Each person makes a commitment to a specific time period and to a position, but has the option of serving in other areas later.
Sometimes a worker’s nationality is a factor in an assignment. To work on site you must be able to gain admission to the country where the work is being done. Language requirements may also be a factor. If you work remotely, these factors may be less of an issue.
IT Volunteering is Challenging
- Wycliffe Global Alliance organizations operate in many cultures and deal with many IT environments.
- Arranging a placement for a volunteer who wants to work very short-term or remotely can be challenging. Staff will work diligently to find a project that meets the volunteer’s available working hours while also keeping the project moving on schedule.
On-site IT Volunteering
An on-site volunteer commits to live and work in a location for a specified time frame. The organization provides the equipment needed for the job, but the volunteer pays for travel, housing, food, and other expenses. After serving for a while, some volunteers decide to move to the location permanently. (Retired volunteers often do this.)
Keep in mind:
- If you can commit to a longer period of time, you will often be able to work on a higher level project. If your available time is less than one month, setting up a visit to explore what God is showing you about future involvement may be better than trying to volunteer right away.
- IT volunteer service in field locations will mostly involve troubleshooting, help desk, or targeted training, and may involve taking over for an ill or furloughing IT person.
Remote IT Volunteering
A remote IT volunteer can work long-term or as-needed. The typical commitment is a fixed number of hours each week to a project or need.
Keep in mind:
- Be flexible, because you probably need to adapt to tools, platforms, or systems the entity already uses.
- Be willing to visit your coworkers at the location where the project is based before you actually begin working. You will become part of the team, so this time helps build relationships and accountability—especially important on distributed software development projects.
- Commit to a definite, realistic number of hours per week. Don’t let your eagerness to serve lead you to commit time you do not really have.
- Maintain close communication with your supervisor or team.
- Be quick to report delays or problems you are having that impact the project.
At the JAARS Center, SIL International provides a whole range of technical services for partner Bible translation organizations, including IT, software, and media support. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, fill out a Skills Questionnaire. IT staff will look over your skills and qualifications, then contact you regarding positions that might be a good fit.
MissionAssist (previously Wycliffe Associates UK) focuses on a range of home-based support activities rendered remotely for Wycliffe entities. MissionAssist does IT research and data entry, and provides help desk services. They may help make connections for a short-term IT service trip to a field location, or for small-scale business application software development and web design projects.
Wycliffe Global Alliance
The Wycliffe Global Alliance website lists many partner organizations. Contact the organization in your country to find out about volunteer opportunities.