You are here: Get Involved > Be an IT Volunteer
You Can Be an IT Volunteer
Almost half of the Christian IT professionals who contact us are interested in some kind of volunteering with Wycliffe. Wycliffe is interested in them too! There are currently IT volunteers working within these areas:
- On-site PC support/Help Desk staffing
- IT project management and business analysis
- Database maintenance
- Database report creation
- Documentation and training material development
- Software testing
- On-site and remote software development
- Short-term server/network installation
- Short-term user training
- General management
The list above is not exhaustive.
Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds:
- Full-time employees in industry who want to tithe their time and IT skills in some kind of Kingdom-oriented ministry.
- Retirees from IT industry who feel called to use their experience and free time for eternal purposes.
- College students looking for technical experience, academic credit for a course (which requires working on a "real IT project"), a summer internship, or something akin to an IT missions trip.
- While an IT person volunteers, their spouse can work at a secular job so that they can support themselves and Bible translation.
How IT Volunteering Works in General
Our volunteers decide what they do if the position offered matches their interest, for how much time each week they do it and over what period of time they will commit. They work on-site, remotely, full-time continuous, full-time seasonal, part-time continuous, part-time seasonal and per-task. We do ask that they make a commitment to the position, task and time period, when they accept the position.
Be aware that your nationality will be a factor in what you can do. If you are able to work remotely, your nationality might be less of an issue, but on-site work will only be possible if you are able to gain admission to the country where the work is being done. There also may be language requirements.
IT Volunteering Is Challenging
Some of these complexities are:
- Wycliffe is not a single big organization with a well-structured way for defining IT needs and managing IT volunteer workers. There are many organizations, operating in many cultures and dealing with many IT environments.
- The lack of key long term IT workers (specifically Business/System Analysts, and Project Managers) has left us struggling to properly integrate IT volunteers, particularly those who want to do something short-term and/or remotely. Volunteers can have difficulty getting materials or answers to questions required to make progress due to staffing limitations. Staff on the other hand, struggle to orient and provide a project that meet the volunteer’s commitment hours without slowing down the project's overall work.
- IT volunteering has the complexities of multiple platforms, languages and methodologies. Even if a volunteer has an expert grasp of the technology involved, they may not have the time, availability or commitment level to understand the Wycliffe business processes and organizational dynamics involved. What appears to be a “simple project” in reality can be very complex.
About Being an On-Site IT Volunteer
On-site volunteering means that the volunteer must travel to a Wycliffe centre; live and commit to work there for a specified time frame. They pay their own travel, housing, food and other expenses. They very often use equipment provided by the Wycliffe entity, and the centre coordinates everything in advance. They sometimes make a permanent move to a new home near the Wycliffe facility so they can work more easily (retired volunteers frequently do this). On-site IT volunteers should keep these things in mind:
- In general, the shorter your available time frame, the lower-level task you will get. Unless a task involves a very specialized skill (e.g., installing a piece of equipment, setting up a small network, teaching a specific course), what there is to do during a short trip might well be beneath your skill level. If your available time is less than one month, it would be better to setup a visit and explore what God is showing for future involvement rather than trying to volunteer.
- IT volunteer service in field locations will mostly involve troubleshooting, help desk, format conversions, targeted training and may involve taking over for an ill or furloughing IT missionary.
- On-site IT volunteers who can commit to work part-time or full-time over a period of months or years frequently get high-level work that can be quite challenging technically and involve a lot of responsibility.
Being a Remote IT Volunteer
A remote IT volunteer is someone who works apart from a Wycliffe centre (most often from home), either continuously over the long term or on an as-needed basis. A remote volunteer commits to a fixed number of hours each week to a project or need. Remote IT volunteers should keep these things in mind:
- You must be flexible in what you are willing to work with because you may well need to adapt to tools, platforms or systems the entity already uses.
- Generally, you must be willing for a set period of time, to go visit your co-workers at the Wycliffe centre where the project is based before you actually begin working. You will become part of the team, and it will help build relationships and accountability to each other. This is especially important on distributed software development projects. The centre might also require periodical site visits to receive more hand-on training experience besides working together as a team to accelerate the project.
- You will be asked to commit to a certain number of hours per week. Many people overestimate how much time they really have to give, and their eagerness to plug in leads them to commit time they do not really have.
- You must be willing to maintain close contact with your supervisor or working colleagues. They face many difficulties that you never see. You must be willing to keep contact with them more than they contact you.
- If you have a technical or managerial problem, you must be persistent in getting it resolved. It's very easy to just gloss over difficulties and then one day just stop working on the project.
- You must be quick to report delays or problems you are having that impact the project.
Wycliffe Associates USA
Wycliffe Associates USA (WA USA) supports Bible translation through the talents and skills of volunteers (short and long term) to help with the task worldwide. They also assist in raising funds mostly needed for construction and equipment on the field. Volunteers from the United States have a wide range of opportunities to serve in the USA and overseas. To go directly to Wycliffe Associates computer volunteer opportunities click here.
MissionAssist (WA UK) is heavily focused on a whole range of "home-based" support activities rendered remotely for Wycliffe entities. In the IT domain, MissionAssist does research, data entry, and provides help desk services. They possibly may help make connections for a short-term IT service trip to a field location or for small-scale business application software development and web design projects.
JAARS exists to provide a whole range of technical services to the Wycliffe family, IT support being only one of them. JAARS is a major hub of all things IT in the Wycliffe world. Almost all of the IT disciplines are done at JAARS, and IT volunteers of these disciplines can plug in there. The JAARS environment is very well suited to the longer-term retired volunteer. Keep these points in mind as you ponder involvement at JAARS.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer CLICK HERE to find out more about the skills questionnaire.
To express your interest in volunteering click on Skills and complete the skills questionnaire. Please indicate your interest to volunteer, when the choice is given. IT staff will look over your skills and qualifications. You will then be contacted regarding possible positions that fit your interests as detailed in the questionnaire. They also will ask about your commitment level and time frames available.
© 2006-2013 JAARS IT Engagement, Waxhaw, North Carolina, USA.
All rights reserved unless otherwise noted elsewhere on this page.