Dubai: Imagine being able to save Dh2.7 million in just over one year.
That's exactly what Lola Lopez and her team of volunteers have saved charities in the UAE, by simply giving whatever time they have free to volunteer for charitable organisations.
Without their voluntary hours, the organisations would have been forced to hire staff to fill the gaps.
Lopez said she quit her job as a PA to a managing director in 2007, after feeling a longing to dedicate her time to voluntary work.
She's now a full-time volunteer and set up the Volunteer in Dubai and Volunteer in Abu Dhabi groups.
After just a year, the organisation now has 9,500 members who have carried out more than 30,000 hours of volunteer work in the last 14 months.
"It became very obvious that there were a lot of people who wanted to volunteer, but didn't know how to," Lopez told Gulf News.
"I myself also wanted to volunteer, but couldn't find out to."
Lopez said she set up the Dubai group on the Facebook social networking site in April, 2008 and the group's own official website a year later.
The Abu Dhabi group has had its own Facebook page for a year, and will soon have its own site, she said.
Lopez indicated she also hoped to set up a Sharjah group, as many of her volunteers came from Sharjah to do their voluntary work in Dubai.
"Then it became obvious that there were organisations who needed support, but didn't know how to access it. It's really a very simple concept," she said.
She now organises a regular day "Funday Sunday", which allows children from different special needs centres to meet and communicate over an enjoyable activity such as taking a trip to a water park.
"By having a scheduled calendar of events, special needs centres don't need to do any planning," she said.
Lopez added that individual centres organised their own activities, but Funday Sunday gave children from different schools the opportunity to make new friends and communicate with each other.
Lopez said she was now setting up a corporate volunteer scheme.
A number of companies had already signed up.
Companies could pledge an employee for however long and however regularly they wished, which could potentially save Dh30,000 a month for a centre in man-hours, or Dh360,000 a year for one centre alone.