How to Be an Effective, Engaged Volunteer

One of the challenges of modern life is the many commitments we all have. In our last membership survey, over 80% of Junior League of Indianapolis members have full-time jobs outside the home. So we’re juggling work, family, home, activities, pets, and hobbies, and that’s a lot. So how do you fit being an effective, engaged volunteer into an already busy life?

Be honest with yourself about how much time you can spare.

The reality is, we can’t have it all. There’s only so much time in the day. And the research shows that those of us who try to excel in every area of our lives end up falling short in at least one, if not several areas. If you have a busy full-time job and a family, then you simply may not have as much available time to volunteer as someone who’s single or works part-time. And that’s okay.

It’s easy to take on too much and become overwhelmed, but that’s a recipe for disaster- for you and for the organization. Instead, be realistic and honest about how much time you can spare and commit to placements and responsibilities you can really meet.

Commit to the time you can carve out.

If you can carve out the time to volunteer, then commit to being fully present when you do. When you’re volunteering, put away the phone and be there, 100%, and give everything you have in that moment.

Read your email regularly.

One of the best ways to stay on top of what’s going on, especially in the Junior League of Indianapolis, is to read your emails. The Junior League sends out a weekly LeagueLink email that updates members on meetings, training opportunities, social events, and more.

Much business is conducted via email, too, so it’s good to stay on top of email. A best practice is to respond to all emails within two days.

Get connected.

Many of our members have said that one of their favorite things about their League membership is the lifelong friends they’ve made. JLI has several affinity groups – small groups of people with similar interests. You can join a book club, a club for moms, adventures, international dinners, crafts, and more to find members who share your hobbies and interests.

In addition, you may find that, as you volunteer, you’ll get to know other members, as you chat and work at the same time.

You’ll also get more connected if you make a practice of getting acquainted with members you don’t know at every meeting and event you attend. Sit at a table where you know no one and strike up a conversation. It’s easy to do: just ask how long they’ve been in the League and find out why they joined. League members love to talk about their League experience!

Another great way to get connected is to have coffee with a League member you’ve met at a meeting or event, and get to know them better. Before long, you’ll be amazed at just how many friends you’ve made!

Being an effective volunteer isn’t that hard in the Junior League. Opportunities to get involved abound, and if you make thoughtful decisions about placements and participation, you’ll be fully engaged in no time!

By Susan Baroncini-Moe, Director-at-Large, Board of Directors, 2015-2017

 

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