Six ways to maximize your volunteer experience
Written by Ashley Grossman, social media and content manager for The Salvation Army Northern Division
You’ve just decided to become a volunteer or, perhaps, you already signed up for a shift…that’s great! Volunteers are truly the glue that holds many of our programs together and we couldn’t be more thankful for your gift of time. But, choosing to become a volunteer should be just as personally rewarding for your as it is for us.
With that in mind, we want to share a few tips below to help you get the most from your volunteering experience.
- Talk to those you serve. Volunteering is a wonderful way to connect to individuals you might not meet otherwise. We encourage you to spend a minute meeting with those you’re serving. You’ll walk away with a new perspective of an individual’s unique circumstances and a better understanding of why a program is needed.
- Volunteer regularly. As a regular volunteer, you’ll gain priceless insight into the volunteering program and will be able to offer suggestions on how we can improve our process to better serve others. You will also have a greater opportunity to connect with staff and, possibly, identify a mentor that can help you grow. This works both ways. If you’re there long enough, you may be able to mentor someone new and pass along all that you’ve learned to someone who is just as passionate.
- Choose a mission you believe in. When your personal priorities align with the mission and vision of the organization you’re serving, everybody wins. You’ll become excited about all the great things your favorite nonprofit is doing and your excitement can inspire others to help out. Your infectious passion can be a catalyst for real change.
- Decide if you want to work in a team. This is something you will need to reflect upon before choosing an upcoming opportunity or in your current position. If your idea of a volunteer experience involves joining forces with others to work towards a common goal, selecting a group activity may be just the perfect fit.
- Be open to new ideas. This concept is not simply limited to volunteering, but certainly applies here. Let yourself be open to what others have to teach you, especially those who are on a different life path. Take time to carefully listen to their stories. It’s these experiences that truly help us grow.
- Set some goals. Setting goals for a volunteer position may seem silly, but this is actually quite an important step before giving your time and energy to the cause. Goals can help you find something you enjoy, including possible leadership opportunities, and it helps further the mission of the organization.
While this is a good place to start, we also recommend taking a look through some common questions to ask before volunteering. You’ll be prepared to volunteer in no time and you’ll have the added benefit of knowing you took the time to find a position that will make you happy and better able to assist people in need.
Whether you’ve volunteered with us before or are new to the scene, we’ve got something for everyone. Please join The Salvation Army by volunteering or making a donation to support your local community today.