Hands holding a plantDo you volunteer in your local community? at your church? for your favorite non-profit organization? Volunteerism is a tremendous gift to those around us and it should be celebrated, encouraged, and supported. Volunteering has always been a big part of my life. Several years ago when I started volunteering for an organization on a regular basis, I realized that there’s a lot to be said for treating volunteer work with the same respect, attention to detail, and professionalism that one would bring to the workplace. Salary or no salary, volunteers are essential to advancing so many organizations…and being a dedicated, committed, and “on the ball” volunteer can make all the difference. Following are three organization-related ideas for volunteers to consider as they continue giving their time to a variety of organizations:

1. Make good use of your e-calendar. Doing so will help you show up as promised, at the correct time. Case in point: A few weeks ago, I volunteered for an activity in a neighboring community. It had been a very busy week, and the day of the activity I got a little confused and thought that it was happening the following week. When I checked my e-calendar and saw that the activity was, indeed, happening that day, I arrived just in time to be at my appointed place. I was able to serve, be a resource, and support as needed. My organized e-calendar made all the difference. As volunteers, people are counting on us to be at our appointed posts, and that’s why I’ve taken to using my e-calendar to keep me “on the ball.”

2. Tote bags can help keep things in order when you’re on the go. At present, I volunteer for a few different organizations, and several of these organizations have activities happening in close proximity to one another. Recently, I found myself needing to attend two unrelated meetings in two consecutive days for which I needed separate volunteer-related materials. Things were hopping at work and busy on the home front, and I knew I needed to be organized for these two meetings. And so on the Sunday before that work week began, I packed two tote bags: one for each volunteer-related meeting happening that week. In a matter of a few moments, everything that I needed was in order, in place, and ready for use. I didn’t need to think about it during the week – I simply grabbed the correct tote bag and went off to my volunteer activities as needed, with all of the necessary items in tow. This is a great example of how a little advance planning went a long way for me. It was a peaceful approach that supported my volunteer work, and helped me to be on time, at my appointed place, and “on the ball.”

3. Embrace Microsoft Excel. Yes, the spreadsheet software that you use at work is extremely handy for volunteer-related activities. You can use it to capture budgets, track time tables, maintain contact information, and so many other things. Bonus points if you use multiple colors or employ the charts function.

Contributing organizational bliss to your volunteer activities is sure to enhance your support of the organizations you love most. Happy volunteering – and thanks for giving of yourself to others!

* Photo by Melinda Nagy

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