Spanish expat Irene Ibarra set up online portal Expatgiving.org to help non-profit organisations reach out to the expat community to promote volunteering positions in Singapore and across the region. She and colleague Victoria Orellana discuss the website’s aims and its impact to date.
Irene Ibarra: ‘While I was volunteering in Singapore, several non-profits told me about the difficulties they had encountered in reaching expats. There are also many people who, like us, want to volunteer their skills to benefit the community. Expatgiving was born as a platform where non-profits can tap into the expat world, and where expats can find plenty of volunteer positions in Singapore and across the region.
‘What makes us different is the fact that, apart from helping our adopted community by working with local non-profits, we also try to focus on what expats need and can commit to. There are many reasons why people are willing to volunteer, but being expats ourselves we know that there are a lot of professionals out there who put aside their careers to follow their partners in the expat adventure. Keeping this in mind, we try to promote skilled or leadership volunteer vacancies that may help fill the gaps in their CVs.
‘We are currently working with more than 25 non-profits. Examples of recent positions include a communications volunteer for The Singapore Committee for UN Women, and country ambassadors for Project Inspire. We also received many applications for play personnel at The Children’s Cancer Foundation, volunteers who provide fun activities for children in hospital. Aidha has also offered skilled positions for mentors, an operations manager, a grant writer and an IT manager.’
Victoria Orellana: ‘I met Irene while we were both participating at a UN Women fundraising event in Singapore. She told me about the project and I was immediately interested in joining to help her spread the word about such a refreshing initiative. I think it’s the perfect bridge between available volunteer positions and expats who are willing to make use of their skills for a good cause.
‘Along with the larger non-profits, we’re also keen to support small or lesser-known local non-profits that have less visibility by promoting their volunteer positions and events. We also give them advice on how to attract volunteers based on our experience with other organisations.
‘An example of how we extend our online support offline is when the National Kidney Foundation needed volunteers for its Circle of Hearts programme. In this case, we not only advertised their vacancy, but we participated in the activity as volunteers by doing a Spanish cooking demonstration for patients in a dialysis centre, and we blogged about it as well.’
Why Expatgiving is more than just a website
Apart from finding vacancies online and applying for them directly, you can also register as a volunteer and receive a bi-weekly eBulletin with all the updates, as well as a quarterly newsletter.
Expatgiving is also active in social media, so to stay up to date, “Like” it on Facebook, join its LinkedIn group or follow it on Twitter. You’ll receive notifications about available vacancies and upcoming charity events.
Volunteer: Jan, Club Rainbow tutor: “I heard of Expatgiving through the Singapore expat wives’ group on Facebook. It was very easy to navigate through the website and apply, and I received a response the next working day. I would recommend Expatgiving to both expat and local friends; what I have seen so far is inspirational.”
Non-profit: Club Rainbow Singapore: “We received an email from Expatgiving in January about their service. It’s been helpful as it’s another avenue for Club Rainbow (Singapore) to source for volunteers. We have found a few volunteer tutors for our Saturday tuition programme through them. It’s a good way to pool together different organisations’ needs and present them on a unified platform for an interested volunteer to browse through and sign up.”