Get Ahead by Volunteering - What am I getting into?

Published: 29 Sep 2017 By Katie Horne

Starting a new voluntary role can be just as daunting as starting a new job. You ask yourself questions like how will I fit into the team? And will this be more of an undertaking than I first thought? In order to combat these worries before you accept a voluntary role you should make sure you and the organisation are on the same page with regards to the role profile and level of commitment expected.

Get to know the organisation

You may be volunteering with a charity or association that you don’t know but needs your expertise. Get to know what they do, who they help and how they operate. Knowledge equips you, not only to do a better job with greater efficiency, but to alleviate those first day nerves.  

Be clear about your commitment

It’s more useful to both the organisation and yourself if you have clear boundaries as to when you can give your time and how often. This should be established from the offset; they can of course be flexible but it’s always good to have a solid starting point.

Ask other volunteers

If you work in an office environment you will find that there are many people who take the time to volunteer, whether it be using their expertise in finance or in a more casual way. Even if your roles  aren’t exactly the same, other volunteers can give you a bit of insight into common sticking points or the benefits they’ve gained through regular volunteering.

Remember that you are offering your skills

The organisation is asking for your help. When you applied for the role you understood the type of jobs you would be taking part in. You know your own experience and expertise, yet we can all occasionally let doubt creep in but if your initial instinct was ‘I can do this’ you probably can! Trust your skills!

What if I don’t like it?

That’s ok! Not every role is going to be suitable for every volunteer. You might have worked at it and found it still doesn’t fit with your time available, life outside of the organisation or,  the role isn’t quite what you expected it to be. Make your reasons clear to the organisation and give them plenty of notice, giving you the opportunity to move onto something more suited to you and them the chance to find someone better suited to their role. If you love volunteering for that particular charity, have you thought about asking what other opportunities there are in other areas?

Taking a step into the unknown can be daunting but with a bit of preplanning and a few honest conversations you can equip yourself fully to start volunteering feeling confident that it’s the best fit for you and the charity.  

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