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Become a Better Volunteer. Wear Shoes.

Growing up, an influential role model probably told you to take a walk in another’s shoes so that you could better understand where they came from. This is an important life lesson that builds better relationships. And when you’re volunteering, that advice is more relevant than ever. If you understand where the people you’re helping are coming from, you will be able to increase the quality of your volunteer efforts. Here’s how you can get in that mindset to improve your volunteer skills and become a volunteering pro.

More Than Showing Up
There are several motives for volunteers. Some people are forced to. But most truly have a passion for lending a hand. By trying to gain understanding of the organization, the volunteers and the people the organization serves, you’re already becoming more than the person who just shows up. You’re going the extra mile. Organizations search for people who are there to make a difference and for people who believe in the mission.

Communication and Visualization
By using a two step process of communication and visualization, you will be able to accurately understand where another person is coming from. So start by communicating with other successful volunteers and see what they do that makes them such a great volunteer. Then, communicate with the people the nonprofit is serving. Find out why they’re taking advantages of the services the nonprofit offers, or what makes the organization special to them.

Next, visualize yourself in their position. That could just mean that every time you volunteer, you keep in mind how the volunteers that you admire are doing things. That could also mean that every time you help another person at the organization, you think about why they need the organization. In no time, this process will help you be a better volunteer.

After you’ve been using this philosophy, you will be able to better understand the nonprofit’s mission that you’ve been volunteering for. Eventually your hard work will pay off, and others will notice the extra effort as a volunteer. Before long, your shoes will be big shoes to fill.

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    LSA is a grantee of the Legal Services Corporation.