Nonprofit Volunteer Etiquette

by Catherine Lovering

Volunteering for nonprofits is a time-honored tradition. An organization benefits from skilled workers who offer time and labor to further the nonprofit's objectives, while volunteers gain valuable experience and a sense of community involvement. Successful volunteer relationships are based on several core principles that are related to volunteer etiquette, which is required of the organizations and the volunteers alike.

Demonstrating Commitment

A nonprofit runs effectively when it can rely on its paid staff and volunteers. Those giving their time and skills to the organization should be expected to commit to regular hours over a lengthy period. Before approaching nonprofits to inquire about volunteer opportunities, individuals are advised to put serious thought into the amount of time they can reasonably contribute to the organization and whether they can prioritize the unpaid work they do.

The Right Attitude

Whether the volunteer work is with disadvantaged people, abused animals or any other organization that has a specific social justice cause as its objective, volunteers will be exposed to a wide range of people and situations. Remaining open-minded and humble will ensure the volunteer does his or her best work for the organization and will be a positive public face for the organization. Volunteers must be willing to learn and to defer to the opinions of those who are hired by the organization to meet its goals.

Skills Development

On-site training is part of many volunteer programs. This is of benefit to both the volunteer, whose skills will be enhanced, and the organization, which can make use of those skills. Volunteers should be supported and encouraged during their training so they have the tools they need to be effective in their roles. Volunteers should approach training with enthusiasm and a positive attitude, being open to learning and developing along with other team members.

The Right Fit

The most successful volunteer relationships are those that last for the long term and those where both the volunteer and the organization experience tangible benefits. Organizations should consider a reasonable screening process for prospective volunteers, such as an interview and submission of a resume. Prospective volunteers should assess their volunteering options by researching organizations and the work they require of volunteers. The volunteer herself should know why she has decided to seek a volunteer position; this can help her to find the best place to devote her time.

About the Author

Catherine Lovering has written about business, tax, careers and pets since 2006. Lovering holds a B.A. (political science), LL.B. (law) and LL.L. (civil law).

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