Improve Your Group Volunteer Experience! Engaging with Fellow Volunteers Brings Special Rewards

Posted on December 19, 2011. Filed under: Good Ideas Stick, Tips for HandsOn Partners | Tags: |

From the HandsOn Network Blog

We’ve all been touched by the “warm fuzzies,” those satisfying feelings when you know you’ve touched a life because you took the time to give back. There are times, however, when you aren’t rewarded with a gratifying gold star. You won’t always capture the smiles of the family whose home you helped build; nor hear the sigh of a child after they fill their tummy with food you helped prepare.

Volunteering is in many ways honest intentions with a seemingly blind result, and the warm fuzzies don’t necessarily creep their way into every volunteer experience.

Aim to get the most out of your volunteer time by recognizing the benefits to volunteering with a group. Whether with members of your faith group, your child’s classroom, your workplace, team or Scout troop, or a neighborhood or civic organization, chances are you’re probably not volunteering by yourself.

5 tips for getting the most out of your group volunteer experience

  1. Making friends: Seems like a no-brainer, right? Maybe not. Relationships unique to this type of shared experienced are special, they stand out and are based off common desires to give back and do good. Recognize and celebrate them! Make the extra effort to stay in touch or find additional ways to volunteer with a new friend whom you already have common hopes and goals.
  2. Team-building: Remember those dreaded group projects from school? Little did we know as students that it was not just about the end goal, be it a presentation or report; but our teachers aimed for part of the lesson to be acquiring the skills to negotiate, share, and work with one another as a team. The same goes for volunteering! Working with a new and diverse group of personalities brings out unseen aspects of your own personality, engaging you in new ways and allowing you to become a vital part of a team operation.
  3. Stepping out of the box: Especially in a new environment, or when asked to learn and perform brand new skill-sets, make an effort to step out of your comfort zone and encourage others in your group to do the same! The volunteer experience often drags you out of the “same ‘ol, same ‘ol” and into the “I learned something new,” and “I met the coolest person. . .” when you’re willing to step out of the box and volunteer to do something you wouldn’t normally do.
  4. Praise and Compliments: Giving back with others allows you the opportunity to support one another in ways which are not necessarily available to you at home or in the workplace. Celebrate one another’s accomplishments; find fun and spectacular ways to thank others for their effort and positive attitudes. Individual recognition within a group setting makes the entire giving back experience warm and fuzzy in its own unique way.
  5. Deeper Commitment: If you’ve enjoyed your volunteer experience and are ready for the next level, consider making a deeper commitment to the group you’re serving. Can your group commit to a regular volunteer shift together? Can you engage others at your work, school, Church, etc. to take on a regular commitment? Are you interested in a fundraising role or joining the advisory board? What special skills are needed that you can offer this organization, e.g. video production, carpentry, computer networking? Most nonprofits and schools have many, many opportunities for help and welcome participation at deeper levels.

One more suggestion to get more out of giving back within a group is to simply ASK for the results of your efforts. {Volunteer savvy organizations will preempt the ask and share the impact of your service.}

Inquire of the nonprofit or school you’re serving to show you how your service is making a difference. They should be more than happy to connect the dots and quantify how your service adds value to their mission. When practical, most will share actual statistics of the number of families fed, housed, tutored, etc. and others will be able to share anecdotes and stories of the impact of your good work – possibly directly from the service recipient.

Particularly during the holiday season when schedules are hectic, it’s very important to share your time and talents with others. Enjoy your warm and fuzzy rewards, you deserve them!

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