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My Dos and Don’ts of volunteerism

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Refilwe Ledwaba

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention” Oscar Wilde.

Psychology defines volunteerism as “voluntary, deliberate service to others over time and without compensation “(Psychology of research and reference, n.d.). A key element of volunteer behaviours is that the person freely chooses to help and has no expectation of pay or other compensation. There is no right or wrong to go about volunteering, however, extreme care should be taken when volunteering. Engaging in a project involves many people and if not done properly “chances are that harm and negative effects might prevail over good intentions and enthusiasm” (The DOS and DON'TS OF VOLUNTEERING, n.d.). It is therefore important to put the needs of the community first. 

As a volunteer and having founded a volunteer-based organisation, these are some of the Dos and Don’ts that I think are important if you would like to volunteer your time.

The 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Volunteerism

1. Research before choosing a cause you would like to support

This will help you to find a cause that you believe in or that is aligned with your values. One of the tools that might help you choose a cause appropriate for you: -

Write down what you are passionate about. It might be Youth development, entrepreneurship, girl’s education, or it might be a skill (arts etc) that you would like to teach others. If you are passionate about a cause, you are likely to commit your time, and most importantly you will enjoy doing it.

2. Be clear as to why you want to volunteer

Creating actual value requires a lot of effort, preparation, and hard work. Volunteering should not be a side-effect of something else but the main motivation for your participation in an organisation “(The DOS and DON'TS OF VOLUNTEERING, n.d.).

3. Find out the type of assistance the organisation needs and the type of skills you want to offer 

Plan to add long term value to the organisation. “Doing work that will quickly disappear after you leave has little to no value “. Be clear to the foundation if you would like to volunteer for the programmes (Interacting with learners, facilitating etc), administrative function or fundraising. And remember, Just Because you are volunteering your skills does not mean the quality of the work has to be any less. 

4. Determine the time you must volunteer 

You must have time to volunteer. Often organisations depend on your committed time to carry out some of their functions. If you overcommit and do not honour your commitment, it might have a negative impact not only on the organisation but also on the community you serve. Remember if you do not have time, donating is also a great way to help an organisation champion a cause you are passionate about and takes less time.

5. Lastly, Volunteering is not all about you

“We often go out wanting to change people’s lives and it is our lives that change “. Volunteering will without a doubt have a positive impact on your life and benefit you in a personal and professional manner. However, it is not about you. It “is important to have a clear intention of contributing to the community that need assistance. Everything else is secondary” (The DOS and DON'TS OF VOLUNTEERING, n.d.).

References

Psychology of research and reference. (n.d.). Retrieved July 27, 2021, from Iresearchnet.com: http://psychology.iresearchnet.com/social-psychology/prosocial-behavior/volunteerism/

The DOS and DON'TS OF VOLUNTEERING. (n.d.). Retrieved July 27, 2021, from DRH Lindersvold: https://lindersvold.dk/the-dos-and-donts-of-volunteering/


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