As you strive to volunteer, you might find that there are specific ways to have a larger impact on those you are serving. Whether regularly volunteering in your hometown or taking a once-in-a-lifetime volunteer trip to a foreign country, each volunteer experience has a direct impact on the community. If you’re new to volunteering or have been working with charitable organizations for some time now, you might be wondering how to get the most out of your volunteering efforts. Read below to discover some tangible ways to do so.

Be Transparent  About Your Skills and Experience

In certain volunteering opportunities, it is unlikely that you will have to demonstrate specific skills and abilities of yours. But in other programs or initiatives, you might have to have prior volunteering experience or proven skills to be able to participate in whatever initiative the organization is serving. While not every volunteering experience will have prerequisites, you’ll most likely get more out of your experience by matching your skills and choosing a form of volunteering that suits your talents and interests.

Have Flexibility

When you volunteer, you’ll most likely be placed in an unfamiliar environment. Until you’ve begun volunteering in that same initiative a few times, it might take some getting used to. But even after growing familiar with volunteering, it is still essential to have flexibility. Whether you’re thrown into a new environment or have been volunteering in an organization for years, it is important to be open to what others have to teach you. Plans can shift suddenly, volunteers can come and go and changes might be made to what you have grown accustomed to. In volunteering, it is necessary to be able to go with the flow. You’ll get way more out of your experience when you embrace this flexibility and adapt as needed.

Have Realistic Expectations

If you go into your volunteering experience expecting to move mountains and solve an issue with the snap of your fingers, the reality is that you will come out of the volunteering experience feeling emptier than when you started. You must be realistic with yourself and realize that some efforts take much more time than others. Also, recognize that sometimes the results are out of your control, as it sometimes depends on the actions of others . You’ll get more out of your experience if you approach volunteering with a desire to help others and use your skills than trying to change everything immediately. 

Over the next couple of days, I encourage you to think about how you can make the most out of your own volunteering efforts. Look for organizations that need volunteers or assistance to see how you can help and what you can learn.