Volunteer starter kit

First-time volunteers: Thank you so much for your interest in the refugee situation in Greece. There's a need for doctors, nurses, lawyers, translators, tech experts, cooks, logistics experts and more specialized knowledge. We also need plenty of people who simply offer generosity, energy and heart.

The following is a list of documents and other tools to give you an overview of what's needed and how prepare for your trip. It can seem overwhelming at first, but all of these links will point you to places where all your burning questions about volunteering in Greece will be answered. Between the key Facebook groups, maps and even/especially useful tools on this site, you will be able to decide where in Greece to work with refugees.

Where is my help needed most?

This is the chronic question. We can't answer it for you, as the crisis is in more than 45 camps all over Greece, all with different populations and needs. The best fit depends on your skills and interests, and the amount of time you have.

There's no way around it: You really have to...

Read these materials first

  1. How to Volunteer in Greece (Info for Greece Volunteers)
    Basic info to get started, with brief profiles of camps and lists of which camps need which language skills.
  2. Greece camps map
    For easiest searching and orientation. All the spots on it are also under 'Places' on this site.
  3. Information Point for Greece Volunteers
    General umbrella Facebook group. Ask questions here if you can't find answers at region-specific groups.
  4. Refugee Crisis Reality Check
    Good overview of what to expect as a volunteer -- mental prep, rather than logistical. Compiled by Campfire Innovation.
  5. Voluntariados en Grecia (info doc in Spanish)
    Maintained by Bienvenidos Refugiados en Grecia.
  6. Safeguarding children / how to get a criminal background check

    Compiled by Sumita Shah. Instructions for (highly recommended) procedure of getting official clearance to work with children.

  7. First-time volunteer FAQs
    Right here on this very site.
  8. Community Spirit: How to Integrate as a New Local Business

    For any business, big or small, it’s important to integrate with your local community. Doing so is essential for building new partnerships, establishing a customer base, and ensuring your work week runs smoothly. If you’re a new business, here’s how you can introduce yourself the right way.

     

    Establish Credibility

     

    The first step toward establishing yourself as a credible business, trusted by the locals, is to form a listed company such as an LLC (limited liability company). An LLC gives you a seal of authority, as well as other perks, including reduced paperwork, tax advantages, and, of course, limited liability. Remember, each state has its own regulations that will determine how easily you can form your company. If you need help navigating these and want to save money on lawyer fees, you can use a formation service like Zenbusiness.com.

     

    Even as an established company, for many locals, you’ll still have to work to win trust. A good way to start is by showcasing your achievements and certifications. If you’re a culinary business, for example, this may be a food hygiene certification or, if you’re a consultancy, you might showcase testimonials from previous clients. There are plenty of certifications issued by the U.S. Small Business Administration, minority-centered organizations, and from your local state government. Take some time to look for ones that are relevant to you and will help place you in a better light.

     

    Reach Out to Other Businesses

     

    If you’re new to the area, it’s important to make a good first impression - connecting with other local businesses will ultimately make your route to success a lot easier. Oftentimes, it can be as simple as introducing yourself and offering some freebies, or you can look for business mixer events or trade shows. Don’t be afraid to get on your feet and pay a visit to your neighbors; this is more than just a courtesy as solidarity among local businesses has advantages.

     

    Another useful method is to volunteer your services with nonprofits or local charitable causes. This serves three purposes, as it allows you to demonstrate a willingness to contribute to local causes, provides an opportunity to network and establish your brand with potential customers, and, crucially, is a chance to benefit the community itself. If you’re not sure where to start, try using an online directory to locate nearby charities before reaching out.

     

    Connect Online

     

    There’s no escaping the advantages of social media. To maximize your brand reach across the community, you’ll need to leverage a multitude of channels. Luckily, the first step is easy - by listing yourself with Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin, marking your location and providing adequate profile information, the algorithms will do half the lifting for you. This means that every time someone from the area pulls up a virtual map, you’ll appear on it. Don’t be shy about uploading contact numbers and email addresses, either (as long as they’re separate from personal information) - accessibility goes a long way toward bringing in new customers.

     

    The next step is to boldly step foot in local online communities and to reach out to individuals themselves. It helps if you’ve met people already in person, but there’s no need to be overly formal in most cases. After all, it may be you providing the value. The manner by which you write, however, is important. Our advice is to ignore online guides such as this and instead allow yourself to be bright and informal. When it comes to your local community, stiffness is best avoided.

     

    If you can form a bond with your fellow vendors and develop an appreciable reputation among the community, then partnerships and profit are sure to follow. Remember, local businesses benefit everyone, and as long as you’re a team player, you’re sure to be appreciated.

     

    Image by Pexels