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How to be an Active Citizen | PART 2 | 9 ways to improve the IMPACT you create as a volunteer...

Brought to you by forgood.co.za, South Africa’s largest volunteering and goods donation platform. We connect people who want to make a difference – to the Causes that need their help!

Volunteer culture is building in South Africa, despite the tough economic situation we find ourselves in. It reduces stress, builds communities, improves your skills and opens up your world view.

But volunteering doesn't come naturally. There's a lot we can learn and understand about how to interact effectively with the non-profit sector. Here's how you start...


Be the best volunteer you can be

#1 Do your homework and choose wisely – take the time to seek out an organisation whose mission speaks to you. Know what the Cause does, how they need help and if you can help them in a way that’s meaningful and useful. Ask other people if they know the Cause and if they have volunteered with them before. As eager as you are to make a difference, make sure that you balance your time and the time you commit carefully so you can avoid disappointing yourself and the Cause. Bring your heart, sense of humour and enthusiasm. Be positive – volunteering is what you make of it.

#2 Apply your skills – what do you have to offer and how will your skills help / benefit the Cause?  Know what you're doing as a volunteer. If you need training or need someone to show you what you're supposed to do, speak up. If there’s a match between your skills and the task the Cause needs done - it will be much easier and you'll have a lot more fun!

#3 Be flexible and willing to learn – trying things, visiting new places and interacting with people that may be out of your comfort zone forces you to learn and adjust—a skill all of us can benefit from. This is how we build cultural sensitivity and world experience. Plus, you might find that you enjoy something you didn’t know about before. Never be afraid to ask questions. Be open-minded..

#4 Involve your friends and family – when a family volunteers together, it’s a win-win for everyone. The experience can bring everyone closer together, teach young children the value of giving, introduce skills and experiences never before encountered, and create special memories.

#5 Be yourself and have fun – helping others shouldn’t feel like a job. Even the most mundane task can be fun if you tackle it with a sense of humour. Making a difference is exciting! Be passionate about what you’re doing.

#6 Make no excuses – stick to your commitments. Once you’ve committed to helping a Cause, make sure you follow through (unless the situation is dire). You don’t like to be disappointed and neither do Causes. Do what you say you'll do, and do your best. Don't show up late and always keep your promises. People will be relying on you. Consistency is the most powerful trait a volunteer can have.

#7 Don’t make it about you – amazing volunteers think less about what they can get from the experience of volunteering and more about what they can contribute. Be selfless.

#8 Be respectful – show respect for other people and other cultures. Keep in mind that your way of thinking or living is not the only way there is. Try to see things through other people's eyes. Try your best to understand what other people are going through, even if it's something you've never dealt with yourself.

#9 Think of new ideas to improve situations – always stay two steps ahead. Think of how to do any task in a different and more efficient manner. Talk about your suggestions, your perspective is valuable – but don’t forget that the team you’re volunteering with has considerably more experience that you. Be proactive and creative.

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