Motivating volunteers

People often say to me “how do you remain so motivated”?    I believe there’s a simple answer to this…”be involved”. Being involved is all about adding to your learning, sharing yours and listening to others experiences and building knowledge and skills which all adds to your own valuable life experience.    

However, there is a warning  -  motivation can be short lived if you haven’t set goals,  so a challenge to each one of us is to consider what the goals might be for ourselves – our work life, our family life and the work  we as volunteers do within Parents Centre.

Work is an important factor in a person’s lifestyle, whether that work is paid, voluntary or perhaps a combination of both.  Work or voluntary experience provides us with great opportunities to broaden our awareness of issues, out interests and our experience, all resulting in an improved quality of life.   We’re involved because it’s something that interests us.

Motivation is higher when effective teamwork is in place and a creation of a team spirit is a priority.  This involves a number of things such as people’s time commitments, skills of individuals, being aware and having sensitivity to each member of the team.  A lot can happen when ‘life gets in the way’ and we must be mindful that reality does exist and there are times when a volunteering role might have to take a back seat for a time.  A few things to consider which might help, particularly to support high motivation within committee life – tackle the problem, not personalities; have clear communication channels across the committee and to Centre members, enjoy each other’s company and have some fun and celebration times.  Listen to each other, what attracted each volunteer to their role;  what rewards are you looking for;  how is recognition given for a good job done;  how confident or keen are you to be involved?    

Motivation is a huge topic and it can be a challenging and very rewarding topic to explore.    Start small, what keeps you there and where do you want to go or what do you want to achieve?  Take a piece of paper and write down just one goal to start with then consider what do I have to do to achieve that goal, who’s going to help me achieve my goal, when do I want to have achieved my goal by – no it doesn’t matter if it takes a long time, having the goal and working towards it is the focus.  Don’t forget to stop and celebrate, even small successes – they can all add to your motivation.    Don’t be afraid to talk to others, ask for their input, their feedback – it’s called evaluation.  Now that’s another topic in itself but it’s all part of the motivation journey!   

Eleanor Roosevelt had a great saying that I use a lot in training workshops – “no-one has the right to make me feel inferior without my consent”.

Stand tall, have good confidence, self-esteem, communication and assertiveness.  All this contributes to high levels of motivation.  Good luck with your goals!

Joan Hay, Parents Centres New Zealand