”I would like to help but I don´t really know how.”
”I have been thinking that I could do something good for a long time.”
I have heard these phrases several times from the people close to me. People are willing to help, but they don´t always know how to get started. According to research, one sixth of Finns have not participated in volunteering because they just haven’t thought about it. At the same time, half of the Finns who have not participated in volunteering before would do it if requested. A huge number of potential volunteers are waiting that somebody would ask them to come along. However, if there are so many of them, why are organizations suffering from lack of volunteers every now and then?
Perhaps there hasn’t been enough communication about volunteer positions. Even if there is communication, it doesn´t always target the right people. Perhaps the needs don´t meet. Some people may also think that they must commit to the activities for a long time and that´s why they don´t participate. There are many places for volunteering and sometimes it can be difficult to find a suitable one. Reasons are certainly many. Some of these can be easily fixed with small changes.
I think that one of the most important things is how and to whom we communicate. Be captivating in describing what kind of volunteering is available and what the purpose of it is. People need as clear a vision as possible to join. It should be included in the announcement. In the best case, the volunteer has an opportunity to influence the way the vision is best achieved. Talk to people directly and invite them to join. When things are expressed clearly, people have a better chance to choose a place to volunteer that is appropriate for them.
It´s also important that the volunteer may use her/his own skills and knowledge. That she/he gets to do what she/he is good at and at the same time help other people: everyone wins! Volunteers should be enabled to experience success and learn new things. It is an important reward for the work done.
Also, truly accept the fact that people no longer commit to volunteering for the rest of their lives or even for a couple of years. React to this. Create one-time tasks and let the volunteer think of them, too, if she/he wants to. Remember new ways to help, as well; even while lying on the sofa at home you can do something good – for example, sharing Facebook posts or writing a blog about an important issue. Even a little bit of help is meaningful. Someone comes to hold your hand for a moment or to bake buns, which brings enough happiness for many people for a long time. Or, someone else comes and reads a fairy tale. Even one time as a volunteer can become a warm memory. Moreover, if that memory makes you feel good, it might inspire you to do such a thing another time as well.
In the academic year 2017-2018, the writer studied volunteer leadership at the HUMAK University of Applied Sciences.
Translation: Kati Merikoski