When you were planning the work itself, you outlined the goals of the work volunteers were needed to do. When considering the people to recruit, you considered the individual motivations people might have to support the shared cause.
Now it’s time to think about the unifying goals of the volunteer experience. It can be difficult to project positive motivations on others. While it’s easy to think about your own willingness to volunteer without obvious compensation (whether money, attention, or prizes), it can be difficult to remember that others feel the same way. But we may have multiple motivations for volunteering. Sometimes those perks are obviously valuable: networking, learning new skills, growing our CVs, saving money in exchange for work. But it’s their own desire to help, and be helpful that primarily motivates people.
The obvious motivations listed above are termed extrinsic motivations. These are things that are external to ourselves and either tangible, visible, or accessible to others. But the strongest motivations we have are intrinsic, the things that we value in and about ourselves.
We want to do good, and we want to be helpful. We want to know we contributed to a larger cause that we believe in. We want to collaborate and cooperate with others. And while playful competition has its own role in motivating individuals and teams, most of our time is best spent competing with ourselves . How can I be better? How can I improve my self-image?
If you were a volunteer approaching this opportunity, what answers would you want the coordinator to provide? Which answers would be the ones you give?
- What can I get for volunteering with this event/cause/organization? How will volunteering benefit me?
- What can I give by volunteering with this event/cause/organization? How will volunteering help my community?
Now take a moment to revisit the answers you gave. Which ones are more important to you, as a person and a volunteer? Connecting with the positive motivations of volunteers can guide your preparations and implementation, even when you get stressed out. Volunteers want to help – your goal is to help them find the best course to do that.
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