To give a little bit of history, I went to a Catholic grade school and high school. Because of that, I was required to do community service. We had to complete 100 hours in order to graduate. I volunteered in schools, nursing homes, soup kitchens, at sporting events, and countless other places. Thinking back on those times, I have fond memories. It always made me feel good to give back to my community, and often times I enjoyed myself as well. I interacted with some amazing people, heard some great stories, and became a more well-rounded person as a result of my time volunteering. Now that my children are getting a bit older, I would like to expose them to the benefits of volunteering as well. As I've tried to arrange times, dates and places for us all to volunteer, I've run across many frustrations. If companies, schools, and non-profit organizations really want more people to volunteer, they need to make the process a little bit easier.
- Limit Paperwork / Pretesting - I realize that it is important to make sure that I am not a criminal when working with people, especially children. In fact, in order to volunteer in my kids' classrooms I needed to be fingerprinted. As a SAHM, I didn't have a problem getting to the school (during school hours) 2-3 weeks in advance to get that done. However, working parents might have a hard time with that. Knowing that it is a requirement, perhaps the school should make it available at "Openhouse" or some other after hours event. Also, other schools in the area require that you take an evening or weekend course about volunteering in order to be able to volunteer. Some people only have an hour or two to spare to volunteer. Making them take additional time will definitely detract from their desire to help.
- Stick to a set schedule - While donating blood is not technically "volunteering", it still involves taking time out of your day to help others. As a blood donor, I sign up for a time slot. It is frustrating to arrive at my scheduled time only to find that I have to wait in line behind others that signed up for different times, but decided to come early or late.
- Be flexible - I know that it is easier if you have only have to train one person to work the ticket booth, but one person may not want to (or be able to) volunteer for 8 hours. If you have to, divide up the time so that no one feels obligated to over-extend.
- Accept help from everyone - At Peanut's previous school, they sent home a note asking who would like to help with xyz. I returned the note stating that I would love to participate. I was never contacted. I don't know if they didn't need me, or if they didn't like me, but I felt rejected. If they had sent a note or made a call to tell me that they had too many volunteers, then I would have felt better. I would have been more likely to volunteer again. You never know when you will need extra help, so don't burn any bridges with your volunteers.
- Be nice - When I volunteer, whether it is to give blood or work in a classroom, I like to feel appreciated. You don't have to give me an award, a gift, or a round of applause. I just want to feel like a person. While I am happy to do whatever it takes to make the event, day, etc go as planned, I am not your servant. Please treat me with respect, say "Thank you!", and I am much more likely to help out again in the future.
This post is part of a blogging contest from the TwitterMoms community. There is a chance this post could be randomly selected to win a $50 Amazon gift card, so wish me luck! For more details, you can view the contest page here (http://icomp.ly/volunteer).