Many people possess a gift of compassion and are ready to help orphans, disabled, lonely elderly people, stray animals. Following one of the best western traditions, the popularity of volunteering rapidly grows in Ukraine. Many young Ukrainians devote their free time and energy to help other people not expecting anything in return. Unfortunately, there are also many scam volunteers, who pretend collecting money for charity but keep it in their pockets.

Investigating into the case, ForUm has decided to find out who these volunteers are, what laws regulate their activity and how to tell a true volunteer from a fraud.

Will is the key

History of volunteering starts from 1859 with foundation of Red Cross, but in Ukraine volunteering appeared only in 90s of XX century and was officially recognized by the Cabinet's resolution on December 10, 2003.

Nowadays, volunteering become more popular in Ukraine. So, what is volunteering. According to the definition, volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity and is intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. There is no financial gain involved. Volunteering is also renowned for skill development, socialization, and fun. It is also intended to make contacts for possible employment.

"People engaged into volunteering deserve respect and gratitude. unwillingness of other people to be involved into volunteering activity can be explained by bad experience or absence of motivation. Besides, volunteering is not well organized in our country, though Ukraine needs specialists in the sphere," director of the volunteering center "Good will" Tetyana Lysenko says.

To be become a volunteer, however, is not so easy, because the law "On volunteering" complicates the situation. "Volunteering was not regulated in any way for a long time. This activity was not very spread or popular, thus there was no need to adopt any laws," lawyer Andriy Koryagin says.

For "Euro-2012", however, the law "On volunteering" was finally adopted (April, 2011), though it did not make any difference for the development of volunteering activity. In fact, it has only complicated the situation, the lawyer adds. The law has banned individuals engaged into charity and volunteering and forced volunteers to register legal entities - volunteering organization.  

"According to the law, volunteers can provide help only if they conclude a contract on volunteering activity with a volunteer organization. Moreover, after concluding a contract with a legal entity, the volunteer must conclude an agreement with aid recipients as well. I think you understand that after such paperwork people don't want too any volunteering," Koryagin underlines.

Moreover, volunteering organization do not take just anybody. "Volunteer hunters study CVs and treat every applicant as a regular paid worker. They check volunteer's background and previous engagements into volunteering.  If an applicant does not have experience he may not be taken," Taras Tymchuk, manager of the "Public organization" department of the resource center "Gurt", tells.  
Find ten differences, or How to recognize a scam volunteer

Media reports more and more often cover stories about scam volunteering activity, when scammers impersonate representatives of known volunteer organizations and steal the money. Unfortunately, this is a sad reality of our life. But how can we protect ourselves from pseudo-volunteers? Andriy Koryagin says there is no a universal recipe, but following simple rules may definitely help.

1. Question closely about the goal of fund raising, bout organizers and other participants of the action.

2. Ask for a phone number of the manager (organizer).

3. Ask for a phone number and address of aid recipient.

A "true" volunteer will willingly provide all the information.

Moreover, if you intend to donate a considerable sum of money, read about this volunteer organization on Internet, learn about its previous charity actions, participants and results of the work. If you have suspicions that this organization is a scam, do not hesitate to contact the police, the lawyer recommends.

How are others doing?

In the majority of Western European countries, volunteer and charity organizations report on ever penny spent. "Funds deliver annual reports on how much money they collected, what for and how they spent it. Volunteer and charity organizations also have databases of donators, to whom they report results of volunteering activity. Organizations do all this reporting because donations are the ground of their existence, and donators want to know what they donate money for," Taras Tymchuk told ForUm. Moreover, there are even organizations which count scores and make ratings of the most transparent charity and volunteer organizations.

However, they also have their problems. "For example, there are funds which spend money for administrating and managing the very fund than for helping people. in fact, they collect money for their existence," Tymchuk  adds. 

"In Ukraine, charity and volunteer organizations either live on their own or are a cover for some political or commercial schemes. The percentage of public involved into charity is very small. Moreover, in our country it is difficult to control where the money goes, as nobody reports on expenses. At the same time, even some donators do not care much about where their money goes," he sums up.

By deed, not by word

To be more credible ForUm has asked the very volunteers to tell about their work and inspiration.
Yulia Savalyeva, winner of "Volunteer 2012" award in nomination "Healthcare and healthy lifestyle":

- I did not have any desire to become a volunteer. It came unsought. When I was on maternity leave I was taken by the idea to create a breast feeding  support group. In fact, I needed such support myself. I started to promote breast-feeding giving out booklets for young moms. Then I started holding short lectures and within the time they turned into full classes.  I realized I like to speak in front of young parents and share my experience. later on some hospitals invited me to hold weekly classes. I was told that my cooperation with medical institutions cannot be registered legally, but I do not bother. I enjoy what I do and intend to continue. 

Yulia Dmytruk, winner of "Volunteer 2012" award in nomination "Social protection of population":

- My volunteering started with relatives and friends. Then other people joined me and joined me and together we started organizer students, opened a public organization and a volunteer school. The main result of my volunteering activity is 400 presents for orphans and children from poor families of Lutsk city, as well new comers who want to join our activity.

I am always inspired by the fact that there are young people who care not only about themselves, but also about others and are ready to spend time and efforts to help other people. It proves that our work is not in vain.

Well, one thing is clear - those who want to help other people will always find a way, and no legal obstacles or scammers will ever be able to impede them. As the saying goes, cultivating kindness will bring you happiness.

Daryna Schwartzman


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