Useful Tips for Volunteering

  • VISIT THE AGENCY you are interested in before committing yourself. Get a sense of the staff, clients, and overall environment you will be working with and in.
  • BE REALISTIC AND CLEAR about the amount of time you can commit. It is easier to start small and increase your commitment than to have to back out because your schedule is overwhelming you.
  • FIND OUT WHAT THE AGENCY’S PURPOSE IS and how your role as a volunteer fits into that mission. Sometimes, what may seem as an insignificant contribution to you makes all the difference to those people or that program you are serving.
  • ASK FOR A JOB DESCRIPTION of your volunteer work. It helps you decide if the work is an appropriate “fit” for you, and provides a set of standards or expectations when you do volunteer. Nothing is worse tha setting aside time to volunteer at an agency, only to arrive and find there’s nothing to do. A job description goes a long way towards allleviating these blues.
  • ASK ABOUT TRAINING and/or supervision. If an agency is asking you to perform a task, will they provide the necessary back-up for you to be successful?
  • VOLUNTEERING SHOULD BE AN OPPORTUNITY for your personal and professional growth as well. Don’t be reluctant to request an evaluation of the work you perform, or a letter of recommendation, should you decide to list your volunteer service as a future work reference.
  • ENTHUSIASM IS THE KEY. If you are not excited about a program, the chances are you are not going to be thrilled with giving up time in your day to go there.
  • GO FOR IT! You get out of your volunteer work what you put into it. Volunteering requires no special degree or prior experience. It’s simply a willingness to want to help. The rest will take care of itself.

These helpful hints were provided by the Volunteer Center of San Francisco (415) 982-8999.