About the International Volunteering Lab

The Vol Lab is an international project designed to rapidly boost our volunteer community’s capacity for on-the-ground and online-to-offline mobilisation. With 5 experienced staff, the lab is here to add volunteer-led people-power to campaigns, by enabling Greenpeace’s volunteering community to be as effective and impactful as possible.

The lab is an intentionally-temporary structure, for 2013 and 2014, to enable rapid up-skilling in the organisation, and to enable flexibility while the organisation is in a period of structural change. A proposal for permanent international support for volunteering will be created in 2014.

Meet our team and contact us here.

Over 50 Greenpeace volunteers form an 'I Love Arctic' human banner in Bogor, West Java. More than 10,000 volunteers from around the world have come together to form human banners which spell out

Over 50 Greenpeace volunteers form an ‘I Love Arctic’ human banner in Bogor, West Java.
More than 10,000 volunteers from around the world have come together to form human banners which spell out I Love Arctic over 280 cities. The activists are demanding that political leaders protect the pristine Arctic environment on this Day of Arctic Action.

Through networking, sharing of skills and knowledge, and training, we are supporting a strong, skilled and self-confident international community of volunteer-coordination staff, who in turn support a vibrant global volunteering community. We aim to build that volunteering community in numbers, relationships, skills and impact!

We focus on supporting Greenpeace’s most committed changemakers – our volunteers – who every month contribute their time, energy and strategic ideas in the same way that financial donors contribute their hard-earned dollars. The Vol Lab is an unashamed champions for volunteers’ interests within the organisation, and we promote and improve on-the-ground activism and mobilisation in setting global and regional strategies.

We exist to help Greenpeace engage all the ‘potential energy’ that volunteers are willing to give, by finding ways to channel that energy into positive change.

Values

We believe in the following values, which guide our work:

  • Combining the best of old and new: We encourage people to dive in wholeheartedly to be creative, take risks and and innovate, while maintaining a healthy respect tradition and ‘what works’. We work on sharing new solutions, working alongside tried and tested methods.
  • Empowering people for maximum impact: People-power is at the core of what we do. It is people that drive change and advance political debates. We believe that people will be more effective – and will give more time and energy – if they are more skilled, passionate and inspired. And we believe that people will be more skilled and passionate and if they have greater opportunity to participate, to learn, to connect with others – especially face to face – and to be leaders involved in decision-making. Therefore, we invest in training, community-building and democratic participation.
  • Diverse, accessible movements: We promote tailored solutions which are accessible for all. A one-size-fits-all approach will only ever reach a minority. If we wish to build a broad, diverse and inclusive movement, which transcends social and economic barriers, we must offer a ‘menu’ of good practices, rather than promoting a single ‘best practice. We champion a diverse ecosystem of campaigning rather than a monoculture.
  • Creating communities of solidarity, not crowds of individuals: When people are deeply involved in strong communities of mutual interest and solidarity, it contributes to a long-term transformation of cultures and society, which in turn sets up our organisations and movements for even greater future success. Such communities are resilient and strong, and are built from trusting relationships, formed through listening, patience, transparency, reliability, and genuine appreciation.

We support and share the 5 core values of the Mobilisation Lab:

  • Openness & Co-creation
  • Building on What Works
  • Transparency & Risk-taking
  • Authenticity & Connection
  • Community Change

Objectives

Our objectives for specific projects will be co-created with the volunteer coordination community that we serve.

There are five broad objectives – themselves determined by the community before the Vol Lab was established – which guide the projects we will work on:

  1. To ensure integration of volunteering within campaign planning, so that existing campaign opportunities in our Global Programme can be acted upon by our volunteer networks.
  2. To enable exchange of skills and people – especially in support of offices with new or emerging volunteer departments, and particularly in global-priority countries.
  3. To enable sharing of resources, to gain greater efficiency in our work by avoiding ‘reinventing the wheel’ between NROs.
  4. To achieve the integration and coordination of volunteering with Greenpeace’s other mobilisation entities such as the Digital Mobilisation community, the Youth Support Centre, action trainings, fundraising, and the Values-Based Segmentation project.
  5. To contribute to and learn from the volunteering sector outside of Greenpeace, and to shape Greenpeace’s profile as an organisation which promotes and champions volunteering and civil society engagement.

Mobilisation Lab and Volunteering Lab – What’s the relationship?

Our relationship with the Digital Mobilisation Lab is like sister and brother, siblings within the same mobilisation family. Or, you can think of us as yin and yang – complementary but interdependent forces which together form a balanced whole: different ends of the mobilisation spectrum, but working together.

Activists and volunteers who join in our campaigns don’t consider themselves ‘online activists’ or ‘offline activists’. They are simply ‘activists’.

Greenpeace, and organisations like us, interact with activists both online and offline – it doesn’t make sense to build walls between these two departments, but rather to integrate and give supporters a holistic experience.

Expertise in digital mobilisation can help to optimise, for example, volunteer sign-up processes, and to build online communities that support real-world volunteer networks taking action together. Expertise in volunteer leadership development, volunteer group support, and skills-based training can offer online activists an opportunity to more deeply connect with communities of like-minded people working together for change. By enabling our supporters with both digital and in-person mobilisation, Greenpeace can multiply our campaigns to be led by many thousands more people than if we relied on our staff alone.

Working together, the Mob Lab and the Vol Lab will continue to strengthen and broaden the Greenpeace mobilisation network.

 

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