Saranah Says: How to Be A Better Volunteer

Nonprofits are always in search of a really good volunteer. I’m pretty sure most of us feel that giving our time for free already makes us the best After all, time is money. But there are some ways to really be a shining volunteer that will enhance your experience AND make you a rock star to the organization you are serving:

1)   Show up. Yep, the number one way to really excel at being a volunteer is to simply follow through with the commitment. Ever show up to an event and there are TOO many volunteers? So you sit around kinda twiddling your thumbs waiting for something to do and feeling like you are wasting your time? Well that’s because organizations usually overstaff since so many people flake. Keep your commitment and if there is an emergency communicate it as early as possible to the powers that be.

2)   Be.On.Time. That should be a rule for life in general, but I know some people are challenged when it comes to timeliness. However, when you are giving your time to an organization you are essentially acting as a representative of that organization. If you show up late it causes a ripple effect, and it looks bad for the nonprofit. Set two alarms, get an accountability partner, sleep at the venue, do whatever you have to do to show up ready and ON TIME.

3)   Channel your inner MacGyver (bless your heart if you don’t get that reference). Invariably things will go wrong. Be a problem solver because no one wants to hear people complaining, especially volunteers. If you DO see room for improvement pitch in and help or offer concrete ways to make something better.  

4)   Go with the flow, and by that I mean be flexible. If you and three friends signed up to do face painting but when you show up they have moved you to the dunking booth, don’t bitch about it, just go and do whatever it is that you are asked to do. You’re there to help, not hang with your friends, so be that person who is willing to be flexible when the plan changes. And, you know, wear underwear in case you get put in a dunking booth.

 5)   Have fun. No one likes a negative Nelly or a Grumpy Gus. Laugh, smile, enjoy yourself.  Your positive attitude will help make the experience all the better for yourself and everyone you meet.  

About the Author: Saranah Holmes is the president and founder of the Daily Do Good. She has been an active volunteer since her teen years, and would happily take on the dunking booth. For a good cause.