Holding a Volunteer Manager position is not easy! We deal with motivations, agreements/disagreements and expectations of volunteers and non-profits on a daily basis. The highs and lows of each project result in many a lessons learnt and many ignored.
Volunteers must never make the mistake of believing that non profits are ready to take just about anybody and that they should be grateful if someone is willing to give their time for free. In fact it’s quite the opposite. People volunteer because they are passionate to bring a change in the cause they support and/or because they believe that they themselves can benefit from the experience in some way or other.
Likewise people running these non profits are also passionate about the cause they work for and thus want to ensure that the people who associate with them are right for the tasks. So then what is it that Non profits look for in a volunteer? What makes a Good Volunteer?
- Enthusiasm– A positive attitude towards making your volunteering experience meaningful is absolutely vital! No enthusiasm can lead to volunteering becoming a burden for you!
- Non-judgmental Attitude – being able to take an objective view of the problems. Yes- there are issues in the non-profit setup. Yes- there may be more basic problems to be resolved. But the people who work in a non-profit are also passionate people who are striving to bring a change with the minimum resources they have. So they would appreciate it if you could raise your concerns and help them without being judgmental.
- Awareness – being able to recognize other people’s needs and able to look for ways to meet those needs as a result of training and your own life experiences. Non-profits always look out for volunteers who are well-read and well-aware of their skills and expertise and who keep the eye for innovations.
- Professionalism– Volunteers bring their best to their workplace, so it is expected that they bring their best to the volunteer effort. Mix your passion for the cause, with professionalism and the result is impressive- something a non-profit always appreciates!
- Compassion– having an empathy with the plight of a particular person or situation. If you have compassion for the people you want to benefit by volunteering, you’re definitely progressing towards something good.
- Commitment– dedicating oneself to a task. We often find volunteers who commit to a project and then go absconding. Little do they realize that non-profits are equally committing time to you, to get their projects completed. Of course you’re volunteering, but if you could only be sure before you commit, it would save them a lot of energy and time!
- Self Confidence– able to work both autonomously and as part of a team where necessary. A good volunteer takes the ownership for his volunteering project. He researches on the task at hand, builds strategies and works with the relevant people extensively on the task to be completed. Some volunteers go out of their way and get good deals for the non-profit or participate in their board matters as well.
- Good communication – able to relate to both fellow workers and those you are trying to help. A good volunteer effectively communicates and is also able to take constructive criticism on board to improve his own skills and ability to help others.
- Results Driven– able to achieve measurable results from a task. Often we come across volunteers who are unsatisfied with their work only because they did not place an outcome for their project. Nobody told you about outcomes? Be upfront and ask your non profit to help place outcomes for you. Everybody wants to generate a major positive impact!
- Constant Ambassadors– being able to represent a cause or a non profit. True volunteers don’t switch off! They constantly feel the need of spreading the word about the cause they support. They ask their friends to join the non profit or simply request people to follow the non profit on social media channels.
So dearest volunteers……
Forgive the resistance, Forget the delays,
Forget how somebody did not appreciate you in many ways,
Remember the cause, Remember your passion
Remember how you will make a difference with conviction!