As Advertised

Last year I volunteered as part of Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Program to build houses for a week in Guatemala.  It was an amazing experience to work side by side with local residents to increase the number of simple, decent and affordable homes in the country.

GuatemalaSWMOn the last day of the trip, one of the leaders from Habitat Guatemala asked me if my volunteer trip was “as advertised.” I agreed that the volunteer experience was exactly “as advertised.”  All of my expectations for the volunteer experience, both the challenges and the rewards, were exactly as I had been prepared to expect. As a result, I was very satisfied with  my volunteer experience and the experience strengthened my commitment to the organization.

The ability to learn about volunteering with Habitat Guatemala prior to my trip, ensured my expectations were in line with the reality of what could be expected through the experience.  (For example, never having an expectation for hot water for showering, ensured I wasn’t disappointed by a “refreshingly cool” shower after a day on the Guatemalan construction site.)  Before committing to volunteer, I was informed of my roles on the build site, the challenges of working in a foreign country, and the joys I would share with new Guatemalan friends.  Habitat Guatemala clearly articulated realistic expectations for the trip.  As a result, after completing the trip, I felt that the volunteer experience was exactly as advertised…. leading me to be a very happy volunteer.

As you recruit volunteers for your nonprofit organization, I encourage you to set them up for success by ensuring the volunteer experiences are as advertised. Follow these steps to ensure your organization’s volunteer experiences are as advertised:

  • Provide training to empower, educate and equip volunteers for their roles
  • Outline volunteer duties and responsibilities by creating a volunteer job description
  • Explain and be upfront about challenges volunteers may face in their roles
  • Provide adequate support for volunteers to fulfill their roles
  • Talk with current volunteers to discover what surprised them about volunteering with the organization.  Then, incorporate the information in training future volunteers.

By creating volunteer experiences that meet and exceed realistic expectations, an organization can strengthen volunteers’ relationship with the organization.  This can lead to recurring volunteers who invest and contribute their time, talents and treasures to further the nonprofit’s mission.

How are you creating volunteer experiences that are as advertised?

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About Dr. Sarah Wolin Mackey

Putting theory into practice at nonprofit organizations.
This entry was posted in Habitat for Humanity, Volunteer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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