I have to confess – I’ve had bad volunteer experiences. You know the ones. Instead of enjoying it you find yourself wondering “How soon can I get out of here?” I’ve definitely had those and lived to tell the tale. I worked through them so I can find the other end of the spectrum – the part that keeps me coming back. The experience where I find myself asking “How soon can I come back?”
I know many people think that volunteering is boring, so I want to show the adventure side – the things you find, the places you see, and the people you meet when you open yourself up to the idea of exploring your city and helping others.
My PhD is in an area called Industrial Organizational Psychology and I love it for how applied and useful it is. I’ve worked as a consultant focused on the relationship between the work environment and the individual. A healthy, positive work environment is good for the employees. I’ve seen first hand how a quality work environment inspires its employees, but I’ve also witnessed a negative environment that can deter even the most dedicated workers. The relationship between non-profits and their volunteers is the same: if you create a meaningful and rewarding experience, your volunteers will come back. They will tell people about you. They will give their time, money and loyalty. Selfishly, I’d love to tweak all of my experiences just so they’re more enjoyable for me personally, but more than that, I want to improve the volunteer experience so that the other volunteers feel valued, the organization is more effective, the clients are better served, and the city improves as a whole. It’s a ripple effect I’m going for.
For more information about me visit Sarah Petschonek on LinkedIn