Broke-Ass Guide to Volunteering, Part Two

Updated: Sep 28, 2011 22:13
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Previously, I talked about using self-reflection to decide on what cause to volunteer for. You’ve scoured the internet, asked around, and you think you’ve found what you want to do. Even though you are volunteering, you should make sure the organization is right for you. If you are somewhere that you don’t feel appreciated, is unorganized, etc., you will be less likely to show up and commit, causing more inconveniences for both you and the organization.

Some questions to consider about your chosen organization are:

1. Does it offer an orientation or specific training? Once you are thrown in, you should know what the protocol is? Sure, you are a capable person and can likely figure out what needs to be done, but it feels better to be prepared, especially if their are certain protocols, health codes, and even laws involved.

2. Is there a designated volunteer coordinator? It is best when you can connect with someone and ask them questions if needed. Remember, if their is a volunteer coordinator, that is likely not his/her full time job and has a million other things to do. However, if someone is able to connect, you will likely have a more organized schedule and support for volunteers.

3. Are you in sync with the organizations values? Sure, you all have the common goal of helping out, but people go about that in different ways. If the group you want to join follow anarcho-capitalist views, and you don’t, will you be able to operate within that? Again, it’s time to be honest with yourself and consider what you can put aside to be involved.

4. Do you feel needed? Is there actual work for you to do? Again, this is NOT ALL ABOUT YOU, but in reality, you are giving up your free time to volunteer. If the organization utilizes volunteers for their work, they should also set up systems to manage their volunteers well by actually having tasks for them to do. A good organization should have the capacity to manage their volunteers because that will result in a larger commitment from the volunteers.

Again, I want to stress that I don’t mean to make it sound that if you volunteer, you should expect everyone to drop everything to make sure your experience is good, you get personal attention, you are told everything you need to do. It’s NOT ALL ABOUT YOU. However, your volunteer experience should be one in that you see yourself doing for a long time, and feeling content and useful will help that. Having unreliable or uncommitted volunteers is more of a hassle then a help.

In the meantime, congratulations! Go out there and do some good!

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Robin Hardwick - Cost-Conscious Connoisseur

Robin Hardwick - Cost-Conscious Connoisseur

Robin was raised in the shopping malls of suburban Long Island, New York. As a teenager, her life goals were to become a writer and marry Bret Michaels. After attending college at the University of Delaware (yes, in the state of Delaware) and earning a graduate degree educationl at NYU, she's achieved only one of those goals. Along with writing, Robin enjoys performing improv comedy, internet memes, cross-stitch, and showing off her alarmingly extensive knowledge of obscure pop culture trivia. Currently, Robin resides in Oakland, CA and is writing a book about the 1980s teen book series, Sweet Valley High.