In the words of Elizabeth Andrews, “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” As their activity is willing and without pay, volunteers often exemplify compassion. Even if lacking a great deal of free time, enthusiasts offer their help to growing projects. However, besides empathy, what other qualities make a mindful volunteer? If done responsibly, volunteering can lead to greater benefits for volunteers and initiatives alike.
Showing up to an event well-informed enhances your performance. Especially if volunteering internationally, inquire about the local culture, ask natives about social norms, and read up on crucial economic issues. Preparation lessens any stress you might encounter during volunteering. Further, having cultural sensitivity makes you valuable for a project abroad. The more you know, the less time project organizers spend on training you.
Similarly, if you are volunteering locally, find extra information about the initiative and ask experienced volunteers about their participation. Knowledge increases enthusiasm about the service and ability to deal with unexpected situations.
In general, always research causes and issues important to you, consider your skills and talents, and create personal expectations about volunteering. Don’t overcommit and know how much time a project requires. Make sure that volunteering is still a pleasurable activity, not just another obligation.
While volunteering, engross yourself in the experience. Bring your sense of humor and flexibility to your service. Even with extensive planning, unexpected events are bound to occur. As open-minded and flexible people adapt fast, they often shape the outcome of unpredictable situations.
Being open-minded also helps with objectively judging a situation and the people involved. Volunteering projects often aim towards helping underprivileged individuals that might have very different experiences from yours. Having an open mind contributes to recognizing other people’s needs and the best way to satisfy them. See the big picture and embrace everyone’s differences.
If abroad, immerse yourself in the local culture and let yourself be surprised. Even if well-informed, allow your perspective to change. As volunteering involves a variety of tasks, open-minded individuals tend to do better.
As volunteering is sacrificing one’s personal time, making a commitment is often hard. The passion can wear thin but think about your goals and responsibility to others. Know your limits and remember that commitment on a regular basis can lead to significant impact and development of your skills.
On the organizational side, leaders appreciate commitment as it allows them to plan accordingly. Willingness to devote a set amount of time regularly goes a long way. Organizers count on volunteers to follow through, punctuality also matters. Arriving late or not at all might reflect poorly not only on you but also on the organization’s reputation. Stay honest if you have to change your plans. Your commitment also demonstrates your passion for a cause.
People who persist are valuable to volunteering organizations which often lack reliable budget and well-established structure. As a volunteer, you are confided with an organization’s resources and unreliability leads to lack of trust. Be professional even though you are willingly helping.
Evaluation is part of the volunteering experience. Having a results-driven mind helps organizations achieve positive impact. Reflect on your activity and discuss your volunteering with others. Volunteering is most often a social activity, so take advantage of the group of devoted individuals around you. Working together on evaluations can lead to valuable changes.
Be able to relate to both fellow volunteers and those you are trying to help and demonstrate a willingness to make suggestions for improvements. Encourage others with a smile and listen carefully to their responses.
Use others to improve yourself too. Be able to take constructive criticism to improve your own skills and ability to help others. Always be willing to learn as you are put in a variety of situations. Creative problems solvers are appreciated in the constantly changing world of volunteering.
Volunteers bring a wide array of skills to the table but certain qualities characterize mindful individuals. Keep in mind the big picture and work on your personal development as you volunteer.