8 Volunteering Tips for Beginners

Volunteering is an exceptional experience in life that one will never regret. It is fulfilling, purposeful and positively impacts the community around you. 

For first-timers, volunteering is nothing to be afraid of. There is so much to gain, and so little to lose. As such, here are a few tips to set you on the right track for volunteerism.

1. Check your motivations for volunteering

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People volunteer for different reasons. Most often, people want to contribute to society and help those in need. For others, it’s a great chance to develop new skills, while sharpening existing skill sets. Others truly believe in an organisation’s cause which leads them to devote time and energy to its outreach.

Be clear on what your motivations are to stay focused. When you start to feel burned out, remember why you chose to volunteer in the first place.

2. Know your skill set

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Everyone has something to offer. It could be skills like teaching, cooking, or medical expertise. Some people might have interpersonal skills such as being great listeners, emotionally receptive, or motivating. Others may be detail oriented, adaptable or have leadership qualities. 

Ideally, your skills would match the organisation’s outreach for most impact. With a receptive attitude and open mind, you stand much to learn. There are many volunteering opportunities that require various skills and experience.

3. Decide how much time you’re willing to commit

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When it comes to volunteering, people often feel that they have to volunteer a big chunk of their time to “make it count”. However, it’s more wise to look at what your schedule is like and adjust your expectations accordingly. How long can you commit to this volunteering project? Is it days, weeks, months or just an hour?

The key is knowing how much time you can offer so you don’t burn out. You don’t want to feel like you’re constantly dragging yourself. Remember that every contribution counts, no matter how small!

Also on Jireh's Hope: 10 Heroic NGOs You Could Volunteer At To Build A Better Malaysia

4. Research extensively on the organisation

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Before investing your time and effort into an organisation, it is wise to research extensively on the organisation. For starters, are you aligned with their mission, vision, objectives, and programmes? How impactful has their outreach been? What are some of their active programmes over the past few years?

Being well-informed helps adjust your expectations. Find out if there are any requirements, skills, or training that volunteers need to have. This would give you a good gauge of what to expect. 

5. Call up the volunteer manager if you’re interested in volunteering

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Once you have decided that an organisation is suitable, call up their volunteer / project manager. They can brief you on what the volunteer application process is like. Some organisations require volunteers to undergo training which better equips them to cater to those in need.

Ask them questions on what is expected from new volunteers. Use this time to clear up any doubts before proceeding to volunteer. 

6. Volunteer with a friend

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Volunteering with a friend is not only a great bonding experience, it also helps keep you accountable and motivated. Furthermore, volunteering is rarely a one-man-show. From mentoring children, soup kitchens, or pet shelters,  these are experiences that bring us closer through special memories. 

7. Look for referrals

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Speak to people who have volunteered before. Let them tell you how their experience was. Moreover, it would be great if you could find people who have volunteered for the same organisation you’re looking at. Their insight would help you understand the process, programmes, and outreach of the organisation.

8. Be yourself, have fun, and take it easy

Image Credit: Zero Waste Malaysia Facebook Page 

Volunteering should be a positive experience, not a boring chore. Bring your sense of fun, humour and excitement everyday. Most importantly, take it easy on yourself. When things don’t go “your way”, remember that everyone is working towards a common goal with good intentions.

Volunteering is truly a special experience to each individual. Make your time and effort count by lifting up those in need. Have you volunteered before? Let us know what your experience was like!

Also on Jireh’s Hope: Kickstart Your 2018 On A High Note By Volunteering At These 8 Malaysian NGOs 

*Feature Image Credit: SOLS 24/7 Facebook Page 

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