What Makes a Good Volunteer?

A good Toronto350 volunteer is not someone who does whatever they say they will do.

That might surprise you, but it's true. Here's why...

A good Toronto350 volunteer is someone who tries to do whatever they take on. However, sometimes people take on more than they're capable of actually doing. We understand. We all do it. Things come up, life surprises us, and we adapt. When that happens, a good volunteer either finds someone else to do the task, or they let a relevant person know that they're unable to do it—in a timely manner (normally the person who asked them to do the task).

We live in a time of climate crisis. There's a lot to do, far more than we have the capacity to do. So just taking on the tasks that you know you can complete will mean that you're not stretching yourself to do more. We feel that it's better to take on more than you know you can do, to try to fit everything in, and to occasionally have to back away from a task, than to consistently not take on enough and never live up to your full potentialToronto350 volunteers painting a bannerThere's no shame in saying "Something came up" or "I took on more than I could handle". Quite the opposite. That means that you were brave and were stretching yourself. Well done! But the problem comes when you ignore a task that needs doing, and let it fall through the cracks. That could jeopardize our overall strategy, and could mean that our actions become less effective—or even unable to happen at all! So if you do get overwhelmed, don't feel shame—reach out, and ask for help. As soon as you know you can't do something let someone else know you need help or that you need to pass off the task to someone else.

The worst thing you can do is to take something on, not do it, and not tell anyone else about it. Not only will that mean a task never gets done (and often other volunteers will be relying on your task being completed), it also means you're likely to feel bad about not doing the task. That could lead to you avoiding people, and putting energy into worrying about what people will think about you, which will reduce your overall engagement and community involvement. And we don't want that at all! We want you to feel good about what you are able to do. We want you to stretch yourself, to learn, to grow, and to feel good about accomplishing the things you do successfully.

That's how you'll be the best volunteer Toronto350 has ever seen!

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  • commented 2016-07-25 03:27:13 -0400
    Thanks John! Feel free to use this and share this however you like. :)
  • commented 2016-07-24 18:49:44 -0400
    One of the most important if not the most important characteristic of a good volunteer….and really well explained in this piece!