A volunteer’s eye view of … motivation #wiseupwednesdays

So you’ve found the perfect volunteering role and you are enjoying the experience, but what keeps you coming back every time?

I’m not a number

“Feeling valued and respected is really important to me.  I’ve worked at numerous places over the years and never felt valued or respected, but volunteering has changed all that and I love the fact they make me feel like I matter and my contributions make a visible difference.”

Isn’t this great? I hope you volunteer in a happy and welcoming environment, where you feel appreciated too.  So let’s look at what motivates you to volunteer shall we?

The perfect fit

 I was so lucky to find my perfect role and it really matches my skills, personality and motivations.  It’s made me feel so passionate and positive about the difference I can make”

Matching a potential volunteer to a role is a talent that anyone who manages volunteers needs to learn – fast!  It’s just like most other relationships in your life, you either enjoy it and want it in your life, or you want to get out of it fast if it’s not working for you.  When you find the perfect role you will know, but sometimes there are other factors that help make it the right one for you.  Does it fit in with your personal values and do you feel a real connection?  Can the time commitment fit what you can offer?  Is it flexible if your plans need to change?  Are there options to try other roles if you wish?

Don’t stop me now

“I’m really loving volunteering with these community outreach groups. Chatting to a range of people who have experienced mental ill-health and helping signpost them to other support is very rewarding. I love the fact that my session flies by and enjoy helping the staff research new opportunities our clients can benefit from.”

This volunteer is clearly relishing their role and loving the fact that they are busy and stimulated.  They’ve really taken ownership of their role and the impact they can make.  However, one of the top ten reasons for volunteers leaving an organisation is that volunteers feel overwhelmed or at the other end of the scale, underutilised.  Watch out for getting over involved and taking on too many tasks or too much responsibility. It may seem like a good idea at the time, but you can end up doing too much.

A square peg in a round hole

Feeling bored and not being given an opportunity to use your talents can be very demotivating. Do you just feel unfulfilled when you have so much more to offer?  It’s probably making your volunteering experience less than enjoyable let’s be honest.  Maybe it’s time you tackled this with your volunteer manager and try to get your mojo back!   I’m sure there are other roles available and hopefully you will find your perfect match.

One of my clients has got a job!

 Marcie my volunteer manager has just told me that attendance is up for our Monday afternoon session, I thought it was busy but didn’t realise we’d doubled our numbers.  Lawrence has managed to do an on-line job application for the first time ever and attended an interview yesterday. They’ve offered him the job and he’s over the moon!  All her support and encouragement has really made me feel I can tackle new challenges.”

This is the kind of feel-good moment which really encourages you to keep volunteering doesn’t it? You’re making a difference and changing lives. Isn’t it great to get feedback on how you are doing? Doesn’t it motivate you too?

Return to sender

“My volunteer co-ordinator is great and loves to keep in touch with his volunteers.  We all get a personal email every week to check in, make sure things are going ok and see if he can help in any way. I changed my email address and forgot to tell him, so when it bounced back he came to find me to make sure I was ok and was I trying to tell him something lol.  Liam is great and he’s so supportive”

“My organisation has a special volunteers Facebook group which we have the option to join so we can all keep in touch.  Sarah shares details of free training, volunteer coffee meet-ups and anything she thinks we need to know about.  We love the fact that they make an effort to keep us informed.  I’ve had a few weeks off to look after my Dad following his surgery and love the fact that I can keep up-to-date with what’s happening.  Sarah rings the volunteers who don’t want to join the group too, as my friend Beryl I started with doesn’t do social media.”

Keeping in touch and feeling connected makes you feel like you belong and are part of something doesn’t it?   Regular support sessions and knowing how to get in touch with your volunteer manager is a big plus too isn’t it?

Honesty is the best policy

Have you been promised something by the organisation you volunteer for that did not materialise?  How did that make you feel?  Hopefully your volunteer manager was frank with you and explained that your training was cancelled because the funding bid failed and they could not afford to run it otherwise.  How important is honesty to you?   Even receiving bad news such as the organisation closing is better known in advance, rather than turning up to volunteer and finding the front door boarded up!

Everyone is equal and we all have a say

“Every 6 months we have a volunteers meeting when we all have the opportunity to say what we think and raise concerns about what we do.  This has worked really well and after our suggestions were discussed by the Board, we have implemented new systems that work much better for our clients.  We also have regular support sessions with Andy our volunteer manager, who encourages us to talk about our volunteering and if there is anything we think needs changing.”

Do you feel like you have a voice?  Is your feedback sought and valued? Isn’t it great to feel like your opinions matter? It makes you realise this is a great place to volunteer and you will keep coming back.  Is your volunteer manager accessible?  Do you feel comfortable going to them with questions, concerns and making your input?  Do they try to check-in with you regularly to make sure everything is ok?

“I love the fact that our Chief Exec comes to volunteer get togethers to see we are all enjoying our volunteering.  He comes to help out in the centre too and does the tea trolley, which is great. It’s good to know that he sees us as equals”

We are family

“There’s a real feeling of being part of a family where I volunteer and that’s what I love about it.  If anyone has a problem and Liam our manager is not there, we can talk to Claire from the front office and she always tries to help us out.  I love the fact we all support each other and if one of us is having a bad day, there’s always someone who cares.  If we don’t go in for a few days and forget to phone Liam, he or Claire texts us to check we are ok.  They really care.”

Isn’t it great to feel you belong and people care about you as a person?  This is the kind of feel-good factor you can get from volunteering and feeling part of something special.

The simple things in life

“My volunteer manager Karan sends us all birthday cards and if we are volunteering, we all bring cakes in to celebrate each other’s special days.”

The simple things are the easiest to make you feel part of the team and motivated to do your best as a volunteer aren’t they? Birthday cards, Christmas cards, volunteer get togethers or meals are all great ways to celebrate being part of an amazing team.

Positive experience

This is the secret to keeping volunteers motivated isn’t it?  Anything that helps to make your volunteering experience a positive one. There are lots of different elements to keeping volunteers happy and all of you are different, so we hope your organisation is doing its very best for you.

Please don’t forget if you need any help or support I’m happy to help and that’s what I’m here for J  Just contact me on eileen@dudleycvs.org.uk

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