HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF YOUR VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITY

When it comes to volunteering, most volunteers think of how best they can make the experience memorable and it’s no surprise that many will consider a couple of things as they plan for the opportunity. In today’s article, I’d like to share 7 amazing things to consider in order to make your volunteering experience not only greatly impactful but also memorable an one to be cherished forever.

  1. Goals and expectation setting.

Just like Dwight D. Eisenhower says, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” We can all agree that plans may never work out 100% but that has never really stopped us from planning. Actually, good planning may never work out all well, but will at least point out many things that you need to consider and in doing so, you’ll better be prepared for the experience. As you plan for your volunteering experience, it is imperative that you set out the right reasons for why you’re doing it in the first place, and what to expect from the experience.

This will help you to set realistic objectives and also figure out how to achieve them. As you plan, you’ll realize that it becomes easy to choose out the most befitting volunteering opportunity that best allows you to meet your goals. Clear goals will help you to set your expectations right and faintly paint out a picture of what the experience should look like for you. Once this is done, execution will be much more enjoyable; more like travelling along a route you already know.

2. Flexibility.

This is one of the skills you’ll find so handy in making the experience memorable for you. Like we all know, in the real world, perfect plans don’t exist, except in ideal situations, and in most cases, the former is more likely to transpire. How you adjust and adapt to the changes will affect how well you maximize the experience. The flexibility to tune yourself with the new environment and its variables will help you blend in and still achieve your objectives despite the surfacing changes. With flexibility, you will easily flow with the new course, making healthy compromises where necessary without neglecting the main objectives.

3. Monitor and track your progress.

It’s of no use setting goals if you never care to check if you’re on the course of achieving them or not. Keep track of your progress during the volunteering experience and compare with what you set to achieve out of it. When you do so, you’ll be able to find out the areas in which you’re slacking and craft improvement strategies. And for those where you’re constantly on track and are achieving the goal, it will be a good motivation to know that you’re doing so. You’ll draw great satisfaction while you see yourself achieving those goals. For example, if your goal was to learn a new skill during the volunteering experience, as you monitor the progress you’ll see how the learning is going on and how it is impacting you. That way you’re able to know when and where to improve in order to maximize the outcome.

4. Be passionate and enthusiastic.

Consider the experience like a race. There’s no point in getting on a one hundred meter track only for you to miserably crawl its entire length all the way to the finishing line. Rather you want to choose an opportunity where your interests lie. We’ve already seen how to go about this in goals and expectation setting. So it’s preferable that choose that opportunity where you’ll be able and willing to participate with all your will and energy. When you approach it this way, your enthusiasm will not only be contagious to the people you’ll be working with, it will also go to great lengths in helping to make an outstanding impact.

5. Be committed.

Commitment is one attribute you never want to come lacking during volunteering. As you strive to make an impact and also have some awesome personal benefits from the experience, your commitment should remain high and strong. Sometimes challenges may come to test you but once you set your heart to commit to it until the very end, you’ll soon wear them off. Notably, also, the call for duty may be quite demanding sometimes and may call you to go and the extra mile. Only a committed man will do that. So fill up your commitment tank before you hit the road.

6. Loosen up and enjoy the ride.

As simple and quite funny as that may sound, you’ll find it good advice once you hit the road running. There’s no good reason to change the world while you’re sad and gloomy. Be ready to loosen up a bit and blend into the new environment. You’ll meet new people from various backgrounds, different culture, aspirations, dreams, character etc. If you stick to only what you know, things may be hard but when you loosen up, you’ll find that the cultural diversity adds an amazing flavour to the equation that you’ll even end up enjoying. Remember to have fun and make the memory worthwhile. Interact with people, make new friends, try out new things and acquaint with things you’re not familiar with. As you make these healthy compromises, you’ll extend your enjoyment beyond simply formality to one where making an impact is fun and you just love doing it.

7. Reflect on the lessons learned.

This may sound easy to overlook as it may come towards the end or even after the volunteering experience, but it has such a powerful addition to the experience at large. As the evening of the experience draws nigh, take off time to meditate on how the experience has been all together, what lessons you’ve learned and how they’re going to affect your life from thereon. This will also help you identify how much you’ve achieved your goals. This thoughtful reflection will guide you in understanding the priceless lessons you’ve learned, including those you’d not planned for prior to your self-made curriculum.

So what are you waiting for? Now that you know how to make the most of your volunteering experience, get to it and write an amazing chapter of your life.

This article was written by Patrick Mugera, a volunteer Content Writer at VoluCulture.

At VoluCulture, we provide an online platform that connects grassroots nonprofit organizations in Kenya with local and global virtual volunteers.