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How To Have A Satisfying (And Rewarding) Volunteer Experience

July 14th, 2020

Most people want to help others. But many don’t follow through with concrete actions. If they did, those likely Googling “food pantry near me” wouldn’t necessarily go hungry.

The country needs more volunteers to support organizations and individuals who are working in different capacities to elevate communities, also fight social and economic issues- from hunger and homelessness to lack of healthcare and clean water.

Interestingly, offering time, skills, effort, and resources has plenty of benefits for the person volunteering. It boosts self-esteem. It also improves physical health, mental health, and brings a purpose to life. Besides, volunteering can play a great part in your overall career growth.

But when you’re volunteering, it’s essential to keep a few factors in mind to make the experience more rewarding for yourself and maximize the impact on others.

1. Focus on what you’re passionate about

You wouldn’t enjoy volunteering at an animal shelter if you don’t like animals. In the same light, you wouldn’t enjoy volunteering at a nursing home if you’re more interested in helping homeless people.

You want to give your time to something that you enjoy and are passionate about. If not, you’re going to run out of energy and excitement pretty soon. The whole thing would then end up feeling like a chore.

So, Google “health clinic near me” and find volunteering opportunities, If you’re passionate about healthcare. Also, if you’re passionate about feeding hungry people in your community, Google “food pantry near me” and find volunteering opportunities.

2. Have a learner’s mindset

This is an opportunity to learn. Don’t waste it by shutting yourself or being critical of everything. Learn as much as you possibly can – right FROM something as technical as how a healthcare facility functions TO something as abstract as how a homeless person lives.

Having an open mindset will shape your understanding and personality. And this is going to make all the difference in your life in the coming years.

3. It’s not about how many hours you put in

You can volunteer for 2 hours a week or 20 hours. This is secondary. The impact you make in whatever span you’re volunteering is what matters the most.

So, don’t assume that you’re asked to put in long hours. Volunteering should not feel like an obligation. Put in whatever time you can to make a worthwhile impact.

Can’t make it this weekend? No worries.

4. Network with people of similar interest

During volunteering, you will discover many like-minded people who are passionate about the same things as you do. This is an opportunity to network with them and grow your circle. Of course, you should as well learn from their experiences, opinions, and ideas.

Besides, it’s fun to volunteer with other interesting people who you can call friends.

So, pull out your extrovert energy and get to know the people you’re volunteering with.

5. It’s a long journey; don’t rush

You can’t change everything in a month or two. You won’t see the impact of your work in weeks. This is an ongoing journey of helping as many people as you can, whether you reach the last one standing in the line or not.

So, don’t invest all your time and energy in a month that you feel burnt out. Recognize that it’s a process that requires consistent effort on your end.
Volunteer with the right attitude and take small steps forward. This will improve your overall experience, making it more rewarding.

Over the months and years, play an even more important role in your team. Inspire others to volunteer as well. Be a prominent voice on this social or economic issue you’re so passionate about. It won’t happen overnight. It could take time. And that’s okay. It’s not a sprint but a marathon.

Change Their Lives (And Yours)

Volunteering is very gratifying. But with a few factors in mind, you can make that experience even more satisfying and rewarding for yourself, as well as for others whom you’re working for. It starts with a simple decision you can make right now. And it requires not more than a few hours every week or month.

While you would be working to change their lives, you would also notice a positive change in your own life.

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