Part of being a good volunteer manager is understanding how to be a good volunteer. Below are four things you can start doing right now to become a better volunteer, ultimately creating a bigger impact for organizations that serve your community.
1. Educate yourself
First things first: you should have a firm grasp of your volunteer organization’s mission and goals before you start. If you have plenty of background information about the nonprofit you’re serving, you’ll be able to spend more time volunteering and less time asking, “Where do I go?” and “What do I do?” The directors will also be thrilled to see you’ve taken time to research the organization they work so hard to run. In general, if you educate yourself on the nonprofit before you begin volunteering, you will be able to better serve the community and appear more professional.
2. Attitude is everything
It’s always crucial to arrive at the volunteer site with a smile on your face. The more positive your attitude, the more you’ll get out of the experience. Other volunteers, directors and the people you’re serving will notice your bubbly demeanor and be inspired to act the same—it’s contagious! And let’s be honest: sometimes the volunteer work isn’t exactly what you want to be doing. Volunteering can be mentally or physically taxing at times, but don’t let any of that get you down. Think about the positive effect you’re creating in your community and the people who need your help. Let that be the fuel to get you through the day, and be sure to motivate other volunteers to keep that same mindset, too!
3. Accept differences
No matter where you volunteer, one thing’s for sure: you’ll be working with a diverse group of people. That’s one of the best parts of volunteering, though, right? Exposing yourself to a variety of social classes, races and ages can yield great long-term rewards and allow you to see the world through a different lens. Learn the stories of the people you’re helping and see them as more than just a recipient of your services. Be tolerant, accepting and understanding. Volunteering is powerful because it can shatter barriers between people who would normally never interact. Make sure you go in with an open mind so you’re able to experience this sensation firsthand. You won’t regret it.
4. Make connections
Building relationships with both the organization’s directors and the people you serve is so important. These people can become lifelong friends and important connections, so treat them well! Whether it’s a one-time event or you’ve been volunteering at the same place for years, be sure to leave everyone you meet with a good impression. Ask if there’s anything else you can do to further serve the community and stay in touch with the volunteer coordinators after you’re finished. Creating strong relationships while volunteering will make your experience more worthwhile and fun.
Next time you volunteer, be sure to arrive with plenty of information, stay positive, welcome any differences you encounter and form connections with the people you serve. Follow these steps, and you’ll be sure to maximize your volunteer experience!