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Etiquette for Volunteering Hero Label

Etiquette for Volunteering


Volunteering is an important part of community support. Those who take the time to volunteer make a huge difference to people's lives, so it's important to take care with our volunteer positions and be sure that we are always showing up with our best foot forward. Here are four tips to aim for when you are volunteering.

  1. If you volunteer for a position, be sure to hold yourself to the same work ethic expected in the business world. Showing up on time. Calling to cancel if you are sick or an emergency has come up. Respecting the rules of the organization or position including dress codes, breaks, and interacting with the people your organization assists. And of course, give at least two weeks notice if you have to leave your volunteer position for good. Think twice about applying unless you're really ready to make the commitment.
  2. Be sure to follow up once you've offered your services. If you've waited a week or two to hear back from a nonprofit, call back. The organization is probably swamped with work and would be pleased to know of your real interest.
  3. Focus on the good you are doing. Volunteer jobs can be simple like answering calls and redirecting them, or being a flagger for parking at your organization's big event. Or it can be more sensitive in nature as in when assisting someone with basic self care like bathing, dressing and eating. No matter the task, it can be easy to let boredom, or fatigue wear you down. Remind yourself of the good you're doing, the reasons you chose to become a volunteer and that EVERY JOB is helpful to this organization and the people it serves.
  4. The most successful volunteer is realistic about their expectations. In business, if you see things aren't working well and try to set them right, you usually get results. In a nonprofit, it's sometimes trickier. Don't get frustrated about the way things are done or simply assume ineptness on the part of the organization's managers. The fact is, they are often constrained by financial resources. While it's okay to have ideas and suggestions, bring them to the appropriate point person and always levy them as a suggestion or observation rather than in the context of how the organization is failing or getting something wrong. (Obviously any safety issues should be brought to management's attention immediately.) Your input will probably be quite valuable. Just be sure not to push your suggestions too hard, and don't be hurt if nothing comes of your effort.