Best Practice in Working with Volunteers

Library magic
Library – one of the places I loved volunteering for – storytime at the local library

After my heart to heart blog yesterday about volunteering challenges, I want to go to the flipside and mention the 10 best practices which kept me volunteering for a long time and which would lead me to do it again (perhaps more when I retire though as I really have done so much of it and need to earn some money.  Hmm actually I still do a bit, it’s that big heart and needing to connect to people in a new place.)

1. Personality and virtues of the often paid supervisor: Some of the best volunteer experiences I have had, were due to the compassion and respect of the supervisors I worked alongside combined with the amazing event or community service that was provided.

2. Matching volunteer to talent: They checked out what my talents were and gave me an opportunity to use them by matching me to tasks I could excel in. Yet, they also gave me new challenges to help me develop as a person.

3. Treating the Volunteer with respect: They had a realistic expectation of my time and were willing to give support like assistance with transport or petrol costs.

4. The other volunteers are enthusiastic, welcoming and helpful: These organisations often had other volunteers, who were engaging, friendly and made you enjoy the experience.

5. Other opportunities for service:There were opportunities to serve on committees, attend AGMS and nominate to become part of the organising group of the particular group.  If it was a great organisation this experience was enriching.

6. Volunteer valued: I felt listened to and valued and so would offer ideas, which were sometimes taken up.

7. Opening of opportunities: There have been several times where further opportunities have come from the volunteer work itself, like being invited to be on another committee, being asked to be part of a bigger and exciting project, being offered paid work.

8. Recognition: Another thing was that service was rewarded sometimes with a special gift, or opportunity. This was not why I did  the work, but it was so heart warming that it was offered. The ultimate recognition for me personally was an Australia Day cultural service award, such an amazing experience to receive this!

9. Life Long Friendships: And the biggest gift of all have been what turned out to be life long friendships and mentors who have encouraged me to keep following dreams.

10. Clear communication of the values and ethics of how volunteers will be treated: Some of the best organisations had a formal induction process, which was warm but also clear so that you knew exactly what was required, but also felt welcome. Orientation into any new organisation, voluntary or not is a massive help to getting a  new worker off to a great start.

What organisations would you reccomend as brilliant to volunteer for? 

Feel free to nominate them for a pat on the back here.  I might post on a few that I loved doing service for.

(c) June Perkins

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