(This article is part of a weekly guest column by Claire Moylan*)
Yesterday, in part one of this article, we discussed the Caring versus the Thing economy. We also talked about the principle of paying yourself first, even when it comes to volunteerism. Here are some practical tips to learn how to do just that.
How To Pay Yourself With Volunteerism
One of the nice things about this service placement that I am doing is that Naropa University helped me to define a profitable volunteering experience for myself. They did it by having the format that helped to establish clear goals and the environment for achieving those goals. The non-profit group also had to follow guidelines that talked about their role in the volunteering and what they were expected to do too. Even if you don’t have a formal process to get started in a volunteer position, it can help you to define what you want to get out of this experience by following the same format. Write out five goals, your expectations of the people you are choosing to volunteer with, and how you intend to use this experience to further your goals in life.
So, keep in mind the following things when selecting a volunteer activity:
- Know Your Field Of Interest - If you are learning to be a veterinarian, don’t volunteer at the local library. Try to get into a veterinary hospital. This is experience that can go on your resume and give you several references too.
- Define Your Objectives – Like a good resume has a career objective at the top, so you should have some clear ideas of your objectives for this volunteer placement. Make sure you speak about them before you decide to commit your time. Tell them what your areas of interest are and try to get experience there.
- Limit Your Time – Yes, you do want some experience, but remember that your paying ventures come first. They are what pay the bills. If you commit to five hours a week, don’t increase it out of guilt.
- Network – Volunteer placements can be wonderful for networking. If you volunteer for specific conferences, you are sometimes allowed to go in for free too. This way you not only get paid to volunteer, but you have more opportunity to network with professionals in the field of your interest. How much is it worth to you to meet a famous person that you wouldn’t have met otherwise?
- Eat For Free – While many people won’t pay you in dollars, agencies do like to sometimes offer volunteers free coffee, donuts, and the like. Eat up, and pay yourself some more. You already paid for gas to get there.
- Do Your Best – Treat your volunteer work as a professional job. You never know when this experience might land you the job of your dreams. Keeping a professional attitude ensures that when they call for your reference, your name is associated with professionalism.
- Do Learn What Feeds Your Soul – It isn’t all about the dollar bill and many people find they are happier doing things that have fewer financial payoffs. This is very valuable information and should be part of your volunteer experience. Learning what creates an expansive heart in you will ultimately provide health benefits, longevity, and a pleasure in life that a dollar bill will never be able to buy.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Learn New Things – Okay, so they might ask you to do something outside your objectives. Make a careful decision on whether it will help you, them, or both of you. Then decide after you have a long conference between your head and your heart. Say no, if you really can’t afford the extra time. If you want to learn something new, saying yes might be a way to get new skills.
- Know When To Cut Your Losses – Some volunteer jobs may seem ideal until you get in and they offer no experience, no networking, and no training. Leave. Answering the phone all day isn’t enough to pay you back for your time and gas. Unless you are extremely committed to this agency, you have to also think about how valuable your own time is and why they don’t answer their own phones when they are paid to do so.
Hopefully, at the end of the day, you will have learned new skills, gotten a new perspective on life, had a great volunteer experience, and still feel good for having helped someone out.
About the author: Claire Moylan is a freelance writer specializing in ebooks and custom-tailored articles for niche websites. You can view her portfolio online or check out her constant content page for more information about her writing assignments.