By Margaret Magnus
VOLUNTEER TIME VALUED AT $184 BILLION IN 2015
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, 62.6 million Americans volunteered in a formal organization in 2015. That is a total of almost eight billion hours at an estimated economic value of $184 billion. The 2015 value of an hour of volunteer time was $23.56, according to the Philanthropy News Digest. Given the value of your time, it's important for you to select the right volunteer opportunity.
TIPS FOR SELECTING YOUR VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY
The following are a few tips on selecting the most rewarding volunteer opportunity for you. Use these guidelines in determining the right volunteer fit at Meher Mount.
Volunteer for a cause you are passionate about. To make the greatest difference, pick a volunteer opportunity that matches something you deeply care about. If you feel strongly about something, you will have a better volunteer experience.
Look for a volunteer opportunity that is fulfilling to you and matches your skills and interests. It is important you enjoy what you are doing so that you will continue doing it. Think about what you would like to do, your skills, and your desired level involvement as you determine your most suitable volunteer opportunity. Make a list of the things you are good at to assess the match for Meher Mount's volunteer needs.
Match your values to those of the organization. Visit in person or talk to the volunteer coordinator to determine if this a good fit. Talk to other volunteers for Meher Mount. Learn if you are a match. Finding the right values match can make the difference between being a volunteer dropout or a happy, dedicated one.
Determine how much time you have. There are volunteer opportunities that fit any time commitment. Meher Mount can tailor a volunteer opportunity to fit your schedule.
Location does not always matter. With more and more work accomplished in the cloud, many of Meher Mount's volunteer opportunities can be accomplished remotely. Others require being on site. Pick a volunteer opportunity suited to your location.
Be open-minded. Try out different types of service opportunities. You never know what will inspire you.
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF BEING A VOLUNTEER
Being a volunteer provides psychic rewards to you, concrete benefits to Meher Mount, and can help you expand and deepen your skills and knowledge to benefit you in your career and personal life. Here are a few tips on helping to make it a rewarding experience.
Respect the expertise of the organization. Follow the organization’s lead about the issues and challenges it is experiencing, as well as the service work Meher Mount would really benefit from.
Volunteer more than once. Volunteers are more effective the longer they have been working with an organization. In addition, you need some time to learn the explicit and implicit norms that govern Meher Mount. Also, the first time you do something, you are learning about the volunteer opportunity. The second and subsequent times, you can become a pro and even teach others.
Be prepared for a challenge. You are also there to learn. Volunteering can end up having as much of an impact on you as you have on Meher Mount and supporting its mission.
Be positive. Sometimes volunteer opportunities are well organized, and other times less so. Sometimes you are doing something fun, and other times not. Maintaining a good attitude while volunteering helps to make everyone’s experience more pleasant and enjoyable.
Don’t underestimate your value. Sometimes the volunteer results are tangible and measurable. At other times, the outcome is not as clear, at least initially. Either way, your contribution provides a benefit.
Take advantage of the opportunity for personal growth. Volunteer assignments often provide a great opportunity to develop your skills, ranging from specific tasks to leadership, time management, teamwork, and other valuable experience.
EXPECTATIONS OF VOLUNTEERS
Be on time, both in person and virtually. If you are volunteering on site and running late or cannot make it that day, please call, text or email. If you have set up a conference call and are running late or cannot make it, call, text or email.
Keep track of your volunteer time and report it to the volunteer coordinator. By helping keep track of your hours, you make it possible for Meher Mount to track the value of your volunteer hours. This type of information is helpful when applying for grants.
Ask questions. Knowing what to do takes time. When you ask questions, it helps you to learn more.
Honor your commitments. It is always better to under promise and over deliver than to promise too much and not fulfill your commitments. Carefully make your volunteer commitments and then honor them.
"Get the Most Out of Volunteering With These 7 Tips,” by Joanne Fritz, About.com Guide
“National Volunteer Month: 10 Things Every Volunteer Should Know,” by Leah Koenig, April 18, 2013, We Repair.org
"Get Started Volunteering," Idealist.
“The Benefits of Volunteering,” by Rita Altman, R.N., The Huffington Post, August 5, 2013.