Volunteers around the world are driven by a single purpose: to leave the world in a better place than they found it. If you have been inspired by the many reasons to volunteer, you might not know what to expect. Volunteering is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, adventures you will ever experience in your life. If you want to make the biggest impact during your volunteering stint, you need to go above and beyond what is asked of you. What distinguishes good volunteers from great volunteers is their passion and drive to bring about a positive change with their work. Here are a few skills of a volunteer that they live by which can motivate you as well.

As a volunteer, you have the responsibility to:

  • Background Check
  • Do your duties promptly and reliably.
  • Accept the guidance and decisions of the volunteer coordinator.
  • Be willing to learn and participate in orientation, training programs, and meetings.
  • Understand the role of the paid staff, maintain a smooth working relationship with them and stay within the bounds of volunteer responsibility.
  • Keep internal information about the organization confidential.

Here are 7 great characteristics that great volunteers have in common

1. They Have A Fearless Approach

To be a volunteer, especially in a new country, requires a lot of courage. You need to push yourself far from your comfort zone and adjust to new cultures, languages and people. Volunteering also requires you to come face-to-face with many harsh realities of the world. You will be meeting children who have experienced unimaginable pain, women trying to rebuild their lives after trauma and even animals who have faced inhumane cruelty. But as a volunteer, you need to be fearless and put their needs before your own emotions.

2. They Have Infinite Patience

A bottomless reservoir of patience and tenacity are crucial skills of a volunteer. When you first decide to volunteer, you might have big dreams about bringing about a revolutionary change with your work. However, when you actually start working, the realities of the situation begin to creep in. Not everything moves as quickly as you’d like and more often than not, things don’t fall into place as easily as you’d expect. But if you’re serious about bringing about change as a volunteer, you need to be patient and stick it out. Never stop persisting!

3. They Can Think Creatively

A good volunteer takes instructions and executes them. A great volunteer doesn’t just do their work perfectly, but also finds newer, better ways of getting it done. As a volunteer, there will be many times where you are faced with complex situations, which require novel solutions to maneuver through. In non-profit organizations, there is usually a scarcity of resources due to lack of funds. In these situations, volunteers need to be resourceful and overcome these obstacles. An ability to think creatively and bring innovative ideas to the table will make you more valuable as a volunteer.

4. They Are Eager to Take Initiative

Most non-profit organizations have too much work and too few people to handle it. Your supervisors will probably be too busy to guide you every single day. Therefore, once you familiarize yourself with the work, it’s important that you start taking initiative and become more proactive about your duties. Instead of looking to your supervisor for direction, identify what needs to be done and start working on it yourself.

5. They Stay Humble About Their Work

Volunteering requires you to be selfless and focus only on how you can create a meaningful impact. Great volunteers understand this and are eager to do everything possible to bring about a positive change. When you are working as a volunteer, it’s important to stay humble about your past accomplishments and skills. Having too much pride can hold you back as a volunteer because it prevents you from learning and making meaningful contributions.

6. They Are Driven by Passion

When nothing seems to be going well and the situation looks dire, the one thing that keeps a great volunteer going is genuine passion for their work. If you’re volunteering just for college credit, you might not be able to make the most out of your volunteering experience. Passion can help you stop looking at this work as drudgery and instead, as important duties that keep the organization running smoothly. 

7. They Can Work In Teams

Volunteering is about working towards something bigger than yourself. When you start volunteering, there will be many projects where you will have to work with a team. Even if personal differences arise, you need to recognize that every member brings a special set of skills to the table and is important. What you can accomplish as part of a team will always be greater than what you would be able to on your own. Learning the art of teamwork will be one of the biggest lessons you can learn from volunteering.