How you can strive to make the most impact when giving back

To be successful at something like volunteering your time may seem counterintuitive as it’s more about giving freely than being “good” at something. But volunteering is like everything else in life: You get out of it what you put into it.

Whether it’s through opportunities through The Salvation Army or elsewhere, people in need are looking for your gifts. Why not work to make the most impact possible and develop habits that make the biggest difference for you and others?

If you choose to cultivate these nine habits that successful volunteers work on, it will help you to stand out as a volunteer and make the greatest impact in the lives of others.

1. They make giving time a regular practice.

Of all the habits, consistently showing up is the most vital. Successful volunteers make giving their time a part of their routine. To make an extraordinary impact, you need to be routinely involved.

Giving time regularly takes conscious effort. In the name of busyness, volunteering can slip through the cracks. When you flip your perspective and realize how much you can offer the world with service, you can challenge yourself to make it a top priority. Make an effort to plug volunteering into your calendar, and don’t just wait for opportunities to fall on your lap; be proactive.

2. They show interest in the cause.

You don’t always find your passions with the first place you volunteer, but over time, you can discover what causes you feel most drawn to. Successful volunteers try out a variety of efforts before finding a passion. They dive in and follow their curiosities.

3. They are flexible.

They learn where they’re most needed and don’t shy away from tasks that aren’t the most ideal. You can get involved with organizations for the aspects you love most, but there will always be aspects that are less than pleasant. Ride through them and get comfortable with discomfort. It’s part of the process and it’s always worth it.



4. They mentor others.

Volunteers encourage other volunteers and make supporting others a part of their day-to-day while working and while not.

While mentorship may or may not be part of your volunteering requirement, there’s often an opportunity to support others in their work.

Even if you’re not technically volunteering for an organization, mentoring is a form of helping others that anyone can do. If someone reaches out for advice, take that opportunity to give back and serve through advice and support. What do you wish you knew at the beginning? When giving advice to those less experienced than you, start there.

5. They put value on the act of service.

Service is biblical, and it’s something that everyone can offer, no matter the financial situation. Successful volunteers see acts of service as an investment—in themselves and their community. You’re putting in effort to make the world a little bit better than you found it.

6. They look to make a long-term impact.

Successful volunteers look at how they can make an impact for years and decades to come. They look at systems and challenges that an organization faces and they take action on how to improve efforts. They don’t just do the work; they look to the future.

7. They see where they can add value.

Everyone was gifted with particular skills, and those who make the most impact focus on how to best use their strengths. Certainly it’s important to strengthen your weaknesses, but it’s even more important to be aware of and utilize your God-given skill-set. What can you bring to the table?

8. They look for opportunities to grow and learn.

They take the lead on projects or offer to help in more areas than one. They expand their horizons and make an effort to do more than is necessary. There are so many opportunities to expand your knowledge through volunteering. You’re often putting yourself in situations you may never otherwise have the opportunity to be in. Get the most of it by simply being open to learning as much as possible.

9. They take care of themselves, too.

As important as it is to give to others, it’s equally important to refuel and take care of yourself. Successful volunteers know when to slow down and fill their tank. Don’t overload your schedule and make yourself resentful of your giving. You want to give back where you can without overwhelming and exhausting yourself. The worst thing you can do is burn yourself out and give up volunteering in the future.

Take a look at the many volunteer opportunities through The Salvation Army and try out one of interest to you today.