Applying for and obtaining the Quality Label
Where do I start the process of accreditation?
After creating a personal EU Login account (if you do not already have one), you will then need to register your organization in the Organization Registration System (ORS) here in order to fill in the whole application form (this guide can help you with the registration process). Once your org is registered, you will get two important numbers: PIC and OID (Participant Identification Code and Organization ID). These numbers will be important for ESC and Erasmus+ project applications.
Once done, you will need to upload on the ORS portal the following documents, as listed below (with electronic signatures or scans of original documents with signatures):
- the Legal Entity form in English. This form can be downloaded from the European Commission’s website. (Hint: if your organisation is an association or foundation run as NGO then choose “private company”, if your organisation is managed by government or authorities then choose “public entity”).
- the Financial Identification form in English. This form can be downloaded from the European Commission’s website. It will need to be confirmed and stamped by your bank.
- an extract of registration (or its equivalent, such as statute) clearly indicating the name of the organisation, the address of the head office, its registration number and a legal representative (or, if applicable, a document authorizing another person to sign legal documents on behalf of organisation). If possible, attach to the original document its certified English translation.
These 3 official documents must not be older than 6 months.
At the time of the submission of your Quality Label application form, the above mentioned documents will be verified by SALTO South East Europe. Without them, you cannot submit your application.
You can then head to the ESC Forms page, where you can access the application form to get a Quality Label (named “ESC52 Quality Label”) . The whole application has to be filled in online, through the portal (you cannot send a PDF or Word version of your application; but we nonetheless recommend to work on an offline document to draft the application as a team and to centralize all the questions). In addition to the application you will have to fill in the timetables indicating the activities, hours and locations of work of your hosted volunteers, according to the type of action you apply for (long-term, short-term/inclusion, volunteering teams).
In the application form for the Quality Label, I cannot choose a National Agency of Kosovo. What should I select?
Kosovo being a partner country, it does not have its own National Agency. Since we are linked to the SALTO South East Europe resource center, based in Ljubljana, for everything linked to ESC, you should select the National Agency of Slovenia for your organization based in Kosovo. You can find it under the name “Sl02 MOVEIT Zavod za razvoj mobilnosti mladih”. You should ignore the warning message that you selected a National Agency different than your country.
Can I fill in the application form in another language than English?
No, the application form needs to be filled in English language.
How does the evaluation of my application for Quality Label work?
Once you submit your application, SALTO SEE will find two accreditors, one from Kosovo and one from an ESC program country, who will both work on the evaluation of your application. It will be ensured that the accreditors do not have a conflict of interest working on your application (they should not be in close relation with you or your organization prior to the application). The local accreditor will come for a visit, meeting the staff and observing how the organization is functioning. After this meeting and a thorough study of the application you submitted, they will send a report to SALTO SEE, an assessment deciding whether or not you can receive the Quality Label and host and/or send volunteers. It can be asked of you to revise your application before the final decision is made, giving you a chance to improve your application following the accreditors’ recommendations.
How long can I expect the whole application process for the Quality Label to last?
From the moment you fill in the application to the moment you receive your Quality Label, you can estimate between 2 and 3 months to pass. Be mindful that the process can take longer, for example if your accreditors require you to revise your application.
We are a young organization, how long do we need to be established before applying to the Quality Label?
In theory, you can apply for the Quality Label no matter how old your organization is. Nonetheless, you should remember that your capacities to host and/or support volunteers will be assessed thoroughly during the evaluation process.
How detailed should the application form be?
You will need to take quite some time to go through the whole process. It is important to read the ESC Program Guide, available relevant handbooks (please have a look to SALTO SEE’s website for more extensive information on the QL application), but also to discuss with your team about the organization’s needs, the profiles you are interested in for the volunteers, what they will do once arrived, who will support them then, what will be the impact on the local community and how to ensure that this is positive, etc. Feel free to contact GAIA for support in this reflection, or if something is not clear (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We are now accredited. How do we apply to receive volunteers?
Because Kosovo is a partner country, you cannot apply directly. Your partner from one of the participating countries (EU members + Iceland, Turkey and North Macedonia) will be the one applying online. Of course, this does not mean that you should not take part in the drafting of the project, and you should be actively part of the project-writing process with your partner. Please note that there are three deadlines for applications in the year. They are indicated each year in the program guide, and usually go as follows: beginning of February, end of April, beginning October
We do not have any international partner to apply to projects. How can we find one?
The first thing is that you can do is check all the organizations accredited in the ESC program on the European Youth Portal. You can sort them out by country, topic, or even narrow it down to the city and use other filters. Each organization listed on the portal will have a brief description of their work and activities, as well as the roles they can take on through ESC (receiving volunteers, sending volunteers, coordinating projects). You can use the information on the portal to contact relevant organizations. You will also meet and get to know other organizations if you take part in Partnership-Building Activities (PBA) or other events on ESC. You can use SALTO’s European Training Calendar to find such opportunities.
What types of volunteering activities can be organized through ESC?
There are two types of volunteering activities:
- Individual volunteering lasting from 2 to 12 months
If duly justified, the activity can be an “inclusion project”, an individual volunteering activity lasting from 2 weeks to 2 months involving people with fewer opportunities. More information in questions below.
- Volunteering teams, involving 10 to 40 participants from 2 weeks to 2 months.
How much will hosting a volunteer cost our organization?
The ESC program allocates funds for organizations to host volunteers. Depending on the accommodation and the food you provide to the volunteer, you can have all the expenses covered. The program covers different kinds of costs calculated depending on the project length and/or other criteria:
- organizational support (implementation of the volunteering activities)
- inclusion support (support for people with fewer opportunities)
- pocket money (for personal expenses of the volunteer)
- linguistic support
- exceptional costs
- travel costs (calculated according to the travel distance of the volunteer)
- complementary activity costs (if you include a complementary activity in the project)
Some of these are covered conditionally and must be motivated in the application form; please read more about it on page 29 of the ESC program guide.
Of course, you need to provide proper conditions for the hosted person, but we are confident that the money allocated by the program is enough to cover the most necessary costs according to the average prices in Kosovo.
How much time will hosting a volunteer take from our organization’s schedule?
You should see it otherwise. As the new volunteer arrives, s/he will need support and some guidance: the supervisor will introduce the volunteers to the organization and its staff, the mentor can help them discover and understand the city and the country, the language teacher will help them have basic notions in the local language, etc. But the time you invest in this introduction and learning experience will pay off, as your organization will benefit from the participation of the volunteer throughout the length of his/her project. Volunteers are not a burden for the organization, they are a valuable help.
What is the role of the mentor?
The mentor is a local person who can be a good ear to the volunteers, and support them in their learning process during the project. Mentors will help the volunteer integrate into the local community and understand its culture, but they will also help the volunteer in their work of reflection on how the project is going, what they are learning, etc. They can also mediate in case of conflict between different actors (among volunteers, or with someone from the organization). Be mindful nonetheless that mentors are not supposed to be psychologists, and a distressed volunteer should be supported by a professional competent person (note that it can be requested in the project application to have costs for mental health professionals in case the volunteers would need it during their stay, under inclusion costs). You can read more on the mentor’s role and responsibilities in this guide.
What is the “inclusion support”? What is considered a person with fewer opportunities?
The inclusion support is aimed at helping organizations include people with fewer opportunities, who are considered according to different elements linked to marginalisation and obstacles in life. The following list is not exhaustive:
- disability: related to people with mental, physical, sensory or other disabilities;
- educational difficulties: associated with young people with learning difficulties; early school-leavers; young people with poor school performance;
- economic obstacles: associated with people with a low standard of living, low income, dependence on the social welfare system or homeless; young people in long-term unemployment or poverty; people in debt or with financial problems;
- cultural differences: related to immigrants or refugees or descendants from immigrant or refugee families; people belonging to a national or ethnic minority; people with linguistic adaptation and cultural inclusion difficulties;
- health problems: related to people with chronic health problems, severe illnesses or psychiatric conditions;
- social obstacles: associated with people facing discrimination because of gender, age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc.; people with limited social skills or anti-social or risky behaviours; people in a precarious situation; (ex-)offenders, (ex-)drug or alcohol abusers; young and/or single parents; orphans;
- geographical obstacles: related to people from remote or rural areas; people living in peripheral regions; people from urban problem zones; people from less serviced areas (limited public transport, poor facilities)
A project applying for inclusion support needs to be clearly motivated, and explain in detail why the envisioned volunteer needs this support. This can be any measure to reinforce mentorship tailored to the participant’s needs, but also necessary costs for medical attention (including psychiatric).
Exceptional costs can also be used for the participation of young people with fewer opportunities or with special needs
How do we find a mentor for the volunteer(s)?
There is no strict way to choose a mentor. Ideally, the mentor is a local person who is not involved in the same organization or program as the volunteer. The mentor is there to support the volunteer through discussion, introduction to the local culture, and insights on how to conduct his or her project, as well as overcome his or her challenges. A set amount can be allocated in the budget of the ESC project to pay the mentor.
What happens if a volunteer wants to terminate his contract before the end of his/her volunteering activity?
This can be done only if reasonably justified, and if all means of mediation (in case of conflicts) or improvements (in case of dissatisfaction for instance) have been attempted. If no better solution is found, the contract can be terminated before the planned end of the activity.
Supporting volunteers sent abroad
What are the roles of the supporting organization when a volunteer joins a project abroad?
As a supporting organization (formerly called “sending organization”), you will have to:
- Co-draft and sign an Activity Agreement involving the hosting organization, the volunteer and your organization. The agreement encloses the different roles and responsibilities taken by the three parties.
- Prepare the volunteer before his or her departure, sharing with them the important information and documents on ESC
- Enroll the volunteer in CIGNA’s insurance plan
- Help the volunteer obtain a visa
- Help the volunteer find suitable transport to the hosting country
- Regularly check up on the volunteer and ensure that the project is doing well. In case of conflict between the volunteer and the hosting organization, you can serve as a mediator
Since your role is defined by the activity agreement, things can vary a bit between projects, but you will always have responsibilities as a supporting organization. Read more details on the different roles in the answers below.
How can young people in our community find a project?
The available volunteering activities can be seen on the European Youth Portal. Some projects are restricted to some countries, and you should make sure the project you are interested in is open to Kosovo applicants. You can learn more about the steps young people need to follow in order to apply on this info-page. But you can also partner up with an organization from a program country before one of the official deadlines for projects submissions and prepare the application together. The application will include your organization and the program where the volunteer will come to. If the project is approved, you will have to send and support the volunteers from Kosovo to your partner organization by opening a call for participants and participating in the selection process.
How do we prepare the volunteers before their departure?
You are in charge of the mandatory pre-departure training. The organization of this is up to you. According to the number of volunteers you are sending at the moment, it can be a one-on-one meeting or a group event, lasting half a day or multiple days. The important thing is that the volunteers going abroad get all the necessary knowledge for their project: how ESC works, their insurance coverage, their rights and duties, but also how to deal with intercultural encounters, how to adapt in a different society, how to live by oneself or with other volunteers, etc. It is important to reassure the young people who are about to begin such an adventure. Try to keep it exciting! Read this short guide for more information.
Should we send volunteers to organizations working in the same field as mine?
You do not have to! Your role is to make sure the volunteer is doing okay in his or her project, but the implementation of his or her project is the responsibility of the hosting organization, and the coordinator in the hosting country. What you need is to be familiar with the ESC program to be able to answer the volunteer’s questions regarding his or her rights and duties as an ESC participant. It is interesting to partner with hosting organizations from other fields of work, so you can get inspired by various projects. Of course you can decide to partner with organizations you feel connected to by a topic or a value, so you can have a stronger long-term collaboration and benefit from the skills your supported volunteer will bring back upon his or her return.
How many volunteers can we send abroad?
Contrary to the hosted volunteers, for which you need to have a set number in your accreditation, you can send as many volunteers as you wish. The rule remains that you should not exceed your organization’s capacities, and be able to provide a support of quality to all the young people under your responsibility.
How much time does supporting a volunteer take once s/he is in a project abroad?
Once the volunteer is abroad, you should check up with him or her regularly, as agreed with all parties (the volunteer and the hosting organization) in an activity agreement. This does not take a lot of time, especially if the project is going all right (something we hope happens), but be mindful that the more volunteers you support, the more capacity you will need to be able to take care of all of them!
How do we enroll a volunteer into an insurance plan?
All ESC volunteers have to be insured through the insurance company CIGNA. All the instructions to enroll a volunteer into the relevant insurance plan are detailed in this guide. Only sending organisations can enroll volunteers. Please do not allow volunteers to enroll themselves onto the insurance plan.
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