The greatest challenge in this world (deprived of everything that makes sense) is to do something selflessly for someone you hardly know. From the smallest act of love to the greatest deed of generosity, a compassionate heart is what it takes to manifest the thoughts into action. This is where the curtain raises to the term ‘Volunteer’, who (in my opinion) should be able to give the best of their abilities in order to achieve the common goal set for them instead of doing things for appreciation. The most amazing tendency of any volunteer would be a heart which is ready to serve than to be served. Often it so happens that our motive and intent becomes superficial as we tend to do a similar/repetitive act over a period of time. This phenomenon occurs almost in every job/work that is known to mankind. So does that mean ‘WE’ as ‘Volunteers’ shuffle our area of work periodically in order to preserve the integrity of our motive or do we address the elephant in the room and think of alternatives that will keep us inspired to do what we do to the best of our strengths?
As a pastor I know I might end up sometimes being too preachy about certain things however we need to ponder on this particular aspect because there is necessity to constantly question ourselves if our volunteering has become superficial. I have personally seen over the years past that many people who have signed up as a volunteer with a great zeal and desire to be a part of our outreach activities slowly begin to fizzle out the enthusiasm they had initially due to their progressing tenure in a certain program. Some continue in the same zealous fire, others struggle to show up and when they do, they struggle even more to keep up and few totally give up. Not playing the blame-game here but it isn’t their (volunteer’s) fault that they are unable to continue with the same spirit because we (the ones enrolling the volunteers) need to encourage them, equip them and entrust them. It’s not an easy task at the same time it isn’t an impossible one.
Encourage them: The thumb rule is to find the strength of an individual before assigning them their roles. Volunteers often feel the pinch of pressure when they are unable to execute a certain task given to them. Finding the right combination of character to build a perfect volunteer is almost an impossible task but when you get an insight of their ability and work accordingly, their efficiency and productivity increases which give the desired output and in turn boost their morale which would make them hunger for more such tasks. A perfect team isn’t formed with perfect set of people but it consists of different people with unique abilities on various levels but when put together according to their area of strength form a formidable force to work with. Remember the key is to encourage them not to degrade them!
Equip them: Training sessions with valuable information on statistics, behavioral tendencies, children/adult psychology and other important details of the program provide a wealth of knowledge to the volunteers which will help them to deal with any situation effortlessly. For quite some time most of the volunteers have learnt to handle certain scenarios hands-on, which to an extent is understandable but an access to such training with mock scenarios will give them confidence to make right decisions in the due course of time. True that certain things cannot be taught in the vicinity of a training session however they can be predicted and at least be prepared theoretically. Remember it’s always good to be prepared than to be sorry!
Entrust them: Faith and trust are the two sides of a coin, equally important and vitally required. Often so, that in our efforts to be watchful we end up being suspicious. It’s a very thin line but it has adverse effects on the set of volunteers we are handling. There is definitely a yardstick through which the volunteers will be monitored but in order to achieve the best we need to trust their discerning abilities which they have picked up during the ‘Equipping Program’. They might not always choose the right option but helping them instead of correcting/condemning will make them want to learn even more. Remember they are volunteers not participants to be criticized in a competition!
Having said all of the above, it takes more than what it requires to inspire, motivate and mobilize a group of volunteers to a common vision and that can only be done by leading the group with example. Remember the strength of the chain is its weakest link. Work on that and you will be an effective team taking one step at a time in making this world a better place!
Guest blogger – Samuel Pranukar