Volunteers around the world are driven, by one single purpose: to leave the world in a better place then they found it. Even though volunteering is one of the most rewarding experiences in your life, it can also be quite challenging. You are volunteering because you want to, but because you also want to make the biggest impact. There are good volunteers, but then there are outstanding volunteers. There is a difference between the words “good” and “outstanding”. What distinguishes good volunteers from outstanding volunteers is their passion and drive to bring about a positive change with their work. Outstanding volunteers do exist, and their impact is extraordinary. The question is: how can you become that outstanding volunteer? Well, here are some tips to become an outstanding volunteer.
- Be Fearless: Volunteering requires you to have a lot of courage. You will need to take risks, and get out of your comfort zone and adjust to new cultures, communities, languages, and people. Volunteering (specifically for a cause) also requires you to come face-to-face with many harsh realities of the world. Your volunteering opportunity might have you work with children who have experienced abuse or pain, women who are trying to rebuild their lives after trauma, or even animals who have faced cruelty. Due to these challenges, you have to learn to be fearless and put their needs before your own.
- Be Collaborative: Volunteering is all about working towards something bigger than yourself. Collaboration is key when you want to be successful. When you start volunteering, there will many projects where you will have to work with a team. Even if personal differences arise, you need to put those to the side and recognize that every member brings a special set of skills to the table. Each of those skills is important. Outstanding volunteers tend to distance themselves from the politics or those arguments because they are focused on much more important things. Learning to work in a team is a life lesson that you will need to learn, specifically as you get older because this is the reality.
- Determination and Passion: Not everything is going to go smoothly. This is life. So, when there is a dire situation, the one thing that keeps an outstanding volunteer going is their genuine passion and determination for their work. This is why we all keep saying, “Make sure you love what you do.” No matter what happens, as a volunteer, stick to your commitments. Do not flake out! If you committed to contributing to something, make sure you do your best to make it happen.
- Be Eager: Non-governmental organizations (ngos) have tons of things going on, and something doesn’t have enough manpower to handle it. Once you familiarize yourself with the work the organization does, and what their aim is, take initiative and become more proactive about your duties. Don’t ever switch off! It may be as simple as asking friends and family to follow the organization on social media or raising awareness of the challenges that are arising. As an outstanding volunteer, you will find a purpose and way for your beliefs to integrate into your daily life.
- Communication is Key: This goes to everyone, not only volunteers. However, volunteers should be able to listen and communicate well. Being able to talk to your fellow co-workers and listen to them attentively can only make things go more smoothly and successfully. Likewise, it also important to be able to handle constructive criticism when something needs to be improved.
- Be Organized: I cannot stress this enough. Since you will have tons of responsibilities at work, it is imperative to have good organizational skills. Your “to-do” list will become much easier to complete and more manageable.
- Be Social: Not everything is about “work”, or that’s what I like to believe. Work can be fun, too. As a volunteer, don’t forget to make friends, be cordial, and meet new people. Be friendly. Make plans with your colleagues. Go out for a drink, or have team dinners. Participate in activities, together. You will be surprised to see how much you learn about your colleagues and yourself from playing games, and doing something together (i.e. going bowling).
Here is your survival guide on how you can become an outstanding volunteer. Follow these “golden” rules, and you will be successful! Do you have any additional tips to become an outstanding volunteer? If so, add them in the comments section below!