“Best Practices” – Do We Need Them?

When I talk with a lot of you I feel like ‘best practices’ is a dirty word, there’s a lot of eye rolling and a ‘not another one’ vibe. So what does that mean for the industry? Will we just ignore best practices and all do what we think is right, or is there a way we can work together in some fashion?


Below are a list of all the best practice guidelines I could find as well as what the BBC’s Effective Practices workgroup is planning to create. Just as an FYI, maybe you’ll find it useful.


What I’m suggesting is companies share their best practices on the blog, a few have already volunteered and we’ll start on Thursday. Basically a company will say what their best practice is and why, folks can choose to adapt, ignore or delete but at least the idea has been put out there. If you dont know me and want to contribute please just shoot me an email, this is open to everyone.


IVPA has identified a set of best practices (http://www.volunteerinternational.org/principles.html)  


The Year Out Group in the UK has a set of guidelines (http://www.yearoutgroup.org/Operating-Guidelines.html


A group of Christian mission organizations has identified their standards for short term mission (http://stmstandards.org/)


InterAction, the American Council on Voluntary International Action has a set (http://www.interaction.org/pvostandards/index.html)


Unite for Sight http://www.uniteforsight.org/volunteer-abroad/volunteerism

Here are the goals of the Building Bridges Coalition Effective Practices workgroup:


Identify a group of guidelines and practices for operating effective, high quality international volunteering programs

    Collect the collective wisdom from the field of international volunteering including:

  •     Ideas, approaches and practices that have worked well
  •     Things to consider before making a decision or taking action for growth, program initiation or expansion, organizational changes, etc.
  •     Lessons learned from previous experience that have not worked well
  •     Pitfalls to avoid in various situations:
  •     starting an organization
  •     creating programs in new countries/regions
  •     recruiting & preparing volunteers
  •     selecting partner organizations


    Synthesize collected data into organized set of practices & guidelines

    Publish the resulting collection of wisdom in a manner accessible to all BBC members (with help from technology advisory workgroup)


    Challenge all BBC members – whether they are a brand new organization or one with decades of history – to review the resulting body of work and reflect on their own practices to seek opportunities to improve their quality and effectiveness


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