the volunteer lifecycle
It is not always clear where your volunteering will take you, or even how to get started. Volunteer Scotland describes volunteering as having four stages, which we will introduce with some practical tips along the way!
thinking about volunteering
Ok, so you have this idea that you'd like to volunteer... What do you want to do and why do you want to get involved?
First, ask what volunteering means to you. Is there a particular cause you want to support or a skill you want to use?
Sometime people worry that, when asked why they want to volunteer, they won't give the correct answer. There is no wrong answer! Many volunteer to gain experience and expand their CV, and organisations want to hear this because it represents committment and desire to be successful.
Lookings for part-time, work-experience, volunteering or internship opportunities? The best way to find these is by registering on Stirling's TARGETconnect platform.
Once you've spotted some opportunities which seem right for you, you are moving forward.
Having the correct information is really important. Most good volunteering opportunities will give you a welcome pack, induction or a checklist to get you started. If they don't provide this, remember you can ask questions to make sure you feeling ready to begin.
If you are unsure of anything, you can always turn to email@example.com for support, even just to ask some simple questions.
It is important to know your rights too, so don't be afraid to ask about your induction, training and travel expenses as most organisations will have a budget for them and you shouldn't be out of pocket for any volunteering.
making a difference
As a student volunteer, you make a huge difference in so many ways, and it is important to feel recognised. After all, you are giving up your free time and expertise.
Make sure you always feel supported during your volunteering, that you have opportunities to progress and learn new skills. Many volunteer organisations may offer further training. If it any point you stop enjoying what you are doing, just discuss this with the staff member who manages volunteers.
Student volunteers impact upon campus life, the local community or both. By being a student volunteer out in the communtiy you are helping challenge stereotype perceptions of students. By volunteering within the Union you are helping ensure that we continue to operate as a student-led body.
building on success
You might feel you are at this stage after 4 weeks or in your 4th year, there's no particular rule on when to move on or go further. As an established volunteer, you may be eligible to have your achievements recognised. Look out for upcoming Volunteer Awards (Local ones are hosted by Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise), log your hours with the Saltire Awards scheme and don't forget specific initatives such as those related to sports volunteering.
You may come to a point where you need to move forward. You may want to take on more responsibility, and consider a board or trustee position within the organisation. Perhaps you can become an ambassador and help recruit more volunteers, using your experience in a positive way.
Sometimes, things can come naturally to an end. Many organisations should be able to provide you with a reference and feedback to help you with future employment.
If you aren't sure what you have gained from your volunteering, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to explore this further.