Alba English

Materials for Class

Examples - Criteria-Analysis Essay (“One thing” version)

(Thanks to YH in 2017 for the original version of this essay.)

Criteria for Choosing a Good Volunteer Organisation: An Analysis of “Musasabi Volunteer Association”

Nowadays, many students want to help solve various problems that exist around the world. One of the ways students try to help is volunteering, often in developing countries. However, not all volunteering is beneficial: some volunteer projects can actually have a bad impact (“Cambodia’s orphans,” 2011, March 24), and even if the project is good, the average trip costs $3000 (“Volunteer tourism: A global analysis,” 2008, January) so volunteers should make sure their trip will help the world more than just donating that money. As such, this essay will look at how to volunteer responsibly: first it describes three criteria which can help students choose a good organisation, and then analyses one organisation – the Musasabi Volunteer Association - in terms of those criteria.


This section outlines three criteria students should look for when choosing a good volunteer organisation: sustainability of the project, impact of the organisation, and financial responsibility. The first criterion is sustainability of the project. When students choose volunteer organisations, they should determine whether their chosen volunteer project can provide long term support in the local area (Suzuki, 2016, April 3). As an example, even if a well is dug, it will not provide the local people with clean water for long without regular repairs. One way to check this is to make sure the organisation does not offer only short term trips of a few weeks, but also trips of many months, because short term volunteer activity cannot improve the livelihood of disadvantaged communities (“Sustainability is a goal,” 2014, March 18). Additionally, it is useful to find out if the program involves local citizens because they are familiar with the culture and the area, which helps volunteer organisations to provide long term and best activity for the community (Suzuki, 2016, April 3). Evidence of training projects to prepare non-volunteers from the area to take over projects and maintenance is also a good sign (“What is sustainable,” 2014, March 18).

The second criterion is impact of the organisation. Many students only check the volunteer organisations’ stated aims when they are choosing organisations. However they should also check the actual outcomes carefully to ensure the organisation has a positive effect (“Tips and tricks,” n.d.). For instance, even if they have built many schools in developing countries, if the number of teachers is not enough, then children cannot learn (“Our history,” n.d.). A good way to check this is to visit the website Guidestar (“Guidestar,” n.d.), which sometimes analyses the organisation’s actual impact. If the group is not listed, another way is to make sure project websites clearly state specific numbers (books donated, literacy rates, wells working). Additionally, students should check for negative impacts, for example abuse problems have been reported in Cambodia orphanages (“Tourism-orphanages,” 2011, March 24).

The third criterion is financial responsibility. Volunteer organisations should clearly state how this money is used, so volunteers can be sure that their money is used properly (“Transparent about spending,” 2014, March 24). Therefore, students should confirm that the organisations will show their spending in order to chose a reliable one (Suzuki, 2016). The best way to accomplish this is to review the financial statements on the organisation website, government NGO reports, or again a review site such as Guidestar ( In summary, this section has listed three criteria that might be focused on in order to analyse volunteer organisations. The next section looks at how one volunteer organisation – Musasabi Volunteer Association – performed in terms of these criteria.

Description and Analysis of “Musasabi Volunteer Association”

This section first describes a volunteer organisation – Musasabi Volunteer Association - in detail, and then critically analyses it in terms of the above criteria. This organisation is a Japan-based, non-governmental group focusing on books and libraries for children in Asia. It started work in Thailand in 1984, opened offices in other countries in the region over the next 20 years, but also has offices in Japan in areas hit by natural disasters, such as Minami-Soma in Fukushima (“What is Musasabi?” n.d). Their stated aim is to provide school and library activity in order to give education opportunities to all children while valuing regional culture and continuous communication (“Our history,” n.d.). For example, they run a mobile library in a bus in Fukushima, and take part in a project to supply donated books to Afghanistan (“What is Musasabi?” n.d). Now that the organisation has been described, the following three paragraphs will analyse it in terms of the criteria described above – sustainability of organisation, impact of organisation, and financial responsibility.

The first criterion is sustainability of the project. According to the organisation’s website, the organisation has been around since 1984, and are now planning a four-year project to construct libraries and schools, and to cultivate children’s ability to think critically and solve problems (“Mid term goals,” n.d.). This shows that they can maintain their effort, and that they are not limited to short term projects. It is also a good sign that they focus on the involvement and training of local people to continue support after that (“Libraries in Asia,” n.d.). As such, the organisation meets the sustainability criteria.

The second criterion is impact of the organisation. They are able to give specific numbers - according to the website of Musasabi Volunteer Association, they have built more than 300 schools in Asia, given more than 600,000 books to children, and provided opportunity of reading books for children (Takahashi, 2015). According to the reports of local employees on the organisation’s website, they have been given enough knowledge and opportunity, and as a result they will be able to provide long term support for children (“Libraries in Asia,” n.d.). In addition, the children themselves stated that they obtained happiness from the organisation activities (“Voice of children,” n.d.). Although this evidence all comes from the organisation website, it at least shows that the association meets the second criterion by doing surveys on their results and reporting the clear numbers of schools and books provided, and so the organisation meets the second criteria.

The third criterion is financial responsibility. According to the annual report of the association, in 2016 total revenue was $712,133 and total expenses were $696,539. It also says that that the organisation used 64.1 % of the money to pay for the program and development, while 14.3% of donations were paid for emergency events in Japan and abroad (“Financial report,” n.d.). This is a total of 78%, with the other 22% spent supporting volunteers and on administration (“Financial report,” n.d.). These numbers are similar to other organisations, and show that most of the revenue is spent helping others, and as such the organisation meets the third criterion.


This essay first outlined three possible criteria to keep in mind when choosing a volunteer opportunity and then described one organisation – Musasabi Volunteer Association - in terms of those criteria. There were three criteria – sustainability of the organisation, impact of the organisation, and financial responsibility - all of which the organisation met. Therefore it is recommended as a good one to volunteer with. A more general recommendation is that when students choose a volunteer organisations, they should analyze their opinions in the same way in order to find reliable organisation and avoid doing more harm than good.

Word Count: 1276