Volunteering 101

In today’s hectic, quick-paced world, there is a trend in taking things back-to-basics. In design, in food, in travel…so why not apply the same rule to volunteering!

Everywhere you turn people are burning out, losing jobs, and feel they never have enough time to add anything more to their dance card. In order for an association to thrive, it is vital that they nurture and develop strong committed volunteers that are accountable to strengthening the organization that they have agreed to help make better.

As avid volunteers, we’d like to share a few back-to-basics tips on how to be the best volunteer you can be, for now, or in the future.

  1. Commit to the cause – If you are going to sign up as a volunteer, ensure that you are able to contribute your time and live up to your commitment. There is no definition for this task and only you can determine what you are willing to give. Just make sure that your definition is in sync with that of what the organization is expecting
  2. Anytime, anyplace – Volunteering does not have to be public, or necessarily time consuming. In fact, there is plenty of ‘behind the scenes’ work to be done that you may not know about. Find out where the organization needs the most help so that you can make the most impact with the time that you can commit. Many of us actually get a lot of volunteer work done in the evenings, after the kids are asleep, or when there’s nothing new on Netflix.
  3. Stretch your limits – Volunteering is an excellent way to share your talents but also to learn new ones. Depending on what area the organization needs the most help in, you can certainly use your volunteer role to develop new skills and push yourself out of your comfort zone. You may end up meeting different people in circles less travelled or areas that you may not be seasoned in.
  4. Think small – Not all volunteering has to be over a long period of time. Task-based and micro-volunteering are perfect ways to be involved when you only have short windows of time to offer. Consider those opportunities – Promoting raffle tickets at an event; being an ambassador at a meet-and-greet for new members; participating in a phone call blitz; putting yourself forward as a speaker or panelist. There are always available tasks that will allow you to dip your toe into volunteering without a long-term commitment.
  5. Focus on the positive – Volunteering strengthens your current relationships and helps to generate new ones. Even the most mundane tasks are more fun when shared with others. And in the association world, volunteering is considered a resume-builder and leadership development.
  6. Put yourself in members’ shoes – Association professionals rely on our members to volunteer to help our organizations succeed. Being a volunteer lets you relate to your members’ experience.
  7. Do it with heart – No matter what you are doing or where you are doing it, do it with your heart. All of it. A small task completed with all that you’ve got often makes more of a contribution that a big task done half-way.

Sandra Moniz, CMP
Meetings + Conventions Calgary, Toronto office
[email protected]

Randi Glass, CAE, CMP
Canadian Defence Lawyers
[email protected]