Since the start of vostel.de in 2015 we have been working on the goal that every volunteer finds a suitable volunteering opportunity. Through this we have been able to gain a lot of experience about volunteering over the past years, which we have summarized and recently updated in our volunteer guide for you. In the coming weeks, we would therefore like to focus on some of the topics and start in this blog post with the question:
How do I volunteer with an impact?
The “impact” of your commitment may seem small at times, but you can be assured: Your support is needed and its impact often goes far beyond mere task fulfillment. In order for the time and effort you invest as a volunteer to be fully effective, there are some basic things to keep in mind:
1. Be reliable!
Even if you work for free, it is important that you stick to commitments. Volunteering requires a lot of self-motivation which might have reduced over night compared to the evening before when you signed up for a project. Please be aware that the organisation of your choice is counting on you and may have especially prepared something for you. If you cancel your assignment on short notice, they have wasted their time – and of course your helping hands are missing.
2. Think about whether you want to help in the long term!
Of course, short-term commitment is just as valuable as long-term. Above all, it’s super practical to get a feel for whether the commitment and/or the organisation suits you. Because after all, this is the best basis for long-term commitment.
But apart from the fact that you will enjoy your volunteering more when knowing the local procedures and your colleagues, the impact of your volunteering work is greater if you help in the long term. It is a great asset for the organisation if they know and trust you, and if they do not need to explain each task to you again. In addition, it makes a big difference, especially when working with people, whether you just “stop by” or if they can count on you in the long run.
Therefore: If you really want to make a difference, try to support as regularly as possible.
3. Relax and do not get discouraged!
Sometimes expectations that volunteers have with regard to themselves or concerning a project are not fulfilled. Maybe your tasks are different than expected or you feel like you cannot work efficiently enough. There are several reasons for this, and as a long-term volunteer you can certainly change much of it, also see point 4.
However, especially in the beginning, we advise you to relax, to accept unexpected situations and to support where your help is needed. This also means that you should not be disappointed if those you work with do not always “thank you” at the end of each day or mission. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that they do not appreciate your work! Sometimes this gesture is simply forgotten in the number of tasks they have to think of and the many other things they need to take care of.
4. Be brave and try to change things!
It can happen that as a volunteer you feel that your assignment (or an aspect of your work) is not the best way to support. This is often the case when working on tasks repeatedly without actually solving the problem. This can be frustrating and may prevent you from accepting long-term volunteering projects.
But: Maybe you have an idea for how to solve a problem sustainably instead of just scratching its surface? Just share this idea with your team! Or how about starting a social project yourself to change the issue you’ve noticed?
You can find more tips and information about volunteering in our volunteer guide!
You feel like getting involved?
Then have a look at vostel.de and discover numerous volunteering opportunities!
You want to learn more about the work of vostel.de? Through our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) we keep you up to date on everything important from the world of volunteering! So feel free to drop by there as well! 🙂
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