5 Ways to Treat Yourself on International Volunteer Managers Day

Happy International Volunteer Managers Day!We spend a lot of time thinking about how to make our volunteers feel valuable and appreciated. But the efforts of you, the volunteer manager, can sometimes slide under the appreciation radar.

That’s why today, we celebrate International Volunteer Managers Day. It’s a much-deserved holiday for volunteer managers around the world to be reminded how amazing they are!

While (we hope) you’re receiving endless high fives, hugs, and/ or pats on the back from everyone you see today, here are a few ideas on how you can celebrate how awesome you are.

  1. Reflect on Your Achievements

Sometimes the work days can be so hectic, taking care of each item that miraculously pushes itself to the front of your to-do list, that it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re accomplishing. Take a few minutes today to look back on and recognize what you’ve achieved over the past year – both small and large alike.

  1. Give Yourself Some “Me Time”

Photo Credit: Ray Sawhill

When was the last time you focused on you? We can get so wrapped up in serving others, that we can forget that others are best served when we take the time to serve ourselves. Set aside some time today to learn a new skill, catch up on your professional reading list, or anything else to help turn you into the very best version of yourself.

  1. Cut Yourself Some Slack

Didn’t finish everything you wanted to today? There’s always tomorrow. Consider intentionally shifting some items off today’s to-do list to give yourself some well-deserved breathing room. And don’t be so hard on yourself. Today is your day.

  1. Remember Why You’re Doing This

Take a step back and think about the impact you are having on a daily basis. Think about on your organization’s mission, and how you are making making strides towards achieving it. Think about the people you’re serving and the lives you’re improving. And indulge in all the warm and fuzzy feelings that come along with it.

  1. Have Some FUN

Yes, this holiday is based on your professional identity. But the way you celebrate doesn’t have to be! Whatever your definition of fun is, give yourself some of it today. Make your favorite breakfast. Hang out with friends after work. Take a walk after lunch. Invite some co-workers to join you. Re-energize yourself for another year of being awesome.

Meet Sandra, Volunteer ESL Tutor

Sandra, Mariana and Ernesto

Sandra teaching English to Mariana and Ernesto at Hamilton Family Center.

Meet Sandra.

Sandra always thought about volunteering. But she also thought she didn’t have the time.

After she found Hamilton Family Center through a search on VolunteerMatch, she realized just how easy it could be.

Now, she looks forward to her weekly tutoring sessions, in which she teaches kids ESL (English as a second language). “When I started, I was like, okay I have to drive more and I’m tired from work,” says Sandra. “But now, frankly I look forward to it, and sometimes, if I can come another day, I’ll make time to come, because I think when you give, you receive more.”

In particular, Sandra works with Mariana and Ernesto, two children from Guatemala. “Even though I’m just helping them a few hours,” says Sandra, “I feel like they’re going to have better lives because of Hamilton. And that makes me feel part of something important.”

In the short video below, get to know the amazing work Sandra and Hamilton Family Center are doing together.

To find your own perfect volunteer match, visit VolunteerMatch.org.

3 Reasons to Give Your Time this #GivingTuesday

Give Your Time This #GivingTuesday#GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back, will take place on Tuesday, December 1, 2015. Whether you’re a nonprofit engaging volunteers on #GivingTuesday, or an individual looking to give back, the following post (originally published on GivingTuesday.org) explains why “giving time” is a good idea.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “give”?

A donation of money? An act of kindness? A concession (i.e. “giving in” or “giving up”)?

How about volunteering?  

Across the country and across the world, people are giving back to their communities by volunteering their time. Why? Plenty of reasons:

1. Volunteering is Good for Your Health

Celebrate with VolunteerMatch Premium!In 2013, UnitedHealth Group conducted a study on the link between health and volunteering called “Doing Good is Good For You.” They found that volunteering makes people feel better physically, emotionally and mentally. 76% of participants reported that volunteering made them feel healthier.

You may be wondering how volunteering could possibly be related to health. One big reason? Volunteering lowers stress, which not only improves general health, but improves your mood. Which leads me to point number two…

2. Volunteering is Good for Your Happiness

Make your volunteers HAPPY!According to that same UnitedHealth Group study, 94% of volunteers report an improved mood from volunteering. And it’s not surprising. Volunteering can be fun.

Volunteering is a great way to meet others in your community with similar passions and get connected with your neighbors. Volunteering together with friends or coworkers can strengthen those relationships.

And beyond the fun, volunteering can give you a sense of purpose. By seeing how your actions are having a positive impact on your community, you’ll feel an unsurpassed sense of fulfillment.

At VolunteerMatch, we collect stories from our network of volunteers, and nearly every one is inspiring in some way. Becky, a volunteer at a hospice care facility, recently told us, “Other than raising my children, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything quite so meaningful!”

3. Volunteering is Good for Your Community

Older Americans "Get Active" By Volunteering for Older Americans MonthLet’s not overlook the obvious. People volunteer because they are needed in their communities. There is someone that needs help, a problem that needs to be fixed, or an improvement that can be made.

According to the National Council of Nonprofits, 85% of nonprofit organizations are entirely volunteer-run. Gina, who works at a no-kill cat shelter, said to us, “Without our volunteers, we would cease to exist.”

Furthermore, if you put a dollar amount to every volunteer hour, you would find that the amount of social value volunteers generate each year is astounding. Do you volunteer using your specialized skills? That number gets even higher. For example, $1.3 billion dollars of social value was created through connections made on VolunteerMatch.org alone in 2014.

Even if you have the means to give monetary donations this #GivingTuesday, consider giving your time as well. Working during the week? Volunteer the weekend prior, or the weekend after. While the exact date doesn’t matter, the act will carry you and your community to a better place.

To find your #GivingTuesday volunteer opportunity, visit VolunteerMatch.

Meet Louise, Animal Welfare Volunteer

Louise monitoring the animals at CuriOdyssey.

Louise monitoring the animals at CuriOdyssey.

Meet Louise.

Louise knew she wanted to volunteer, but didn’t know where. A VolunteerMatch search led her to CuriOdyssey, a wildlife center she had visited the previous year.

With her background in science education for children and her love of animals, it was a perfect match. Now, she enjoys keeping the animals happy and safe as an animal welfare monitor.

At VolunteerMatch, we make it easy for good people and good causes to connect. However, since these initial connections happen online, we don’t always get to see firsthand the impact of these numerous connections – the impact on the volunteers themselves, the organizations they volunteer with, and the communities they serve.

That’s why we went out into our community to see what volunteers who found their connections through VolunteerMatch (such as Louise) were up to.

In the short video below, get to know the amazing work Louise and CuriOdyssey are doing together.

9 Quotes to Inspire Your Volunteers (And Yourself!)

Guest post by Lesley J. Vos

Inspire Your Volunteers!Even the most devoted volunteers experience a lack of inspiration and motivation from time to time.

As a volunteer leader, it’s you who can change this. You can encourage your volunteers, engage and motivate them to grow, and become a source of inspiration!

There are many ways you can do this. What is one simple way? Sometimes the right words can perform magic, helping us reach new horizons and inspiring us to do good for others.

Share these awesome quotes to inspire your volunteers (and yourself next time your organization can use a little extra motivation!)

Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in the world all of your own.”
~Albert Schweitzer

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

You can study government and politics in school, but the best way to really understand the process is to volunteer your time.”
~Rob McKenna

Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”
~Elizabeth Andrew

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
~Winston Churchill

“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.”
~Erma Bombeck

You may not have saved a lot of money in your life, but if you have saved a lot of heartaches for other folks, you are a pretty rich man.”
~Seth Parker

Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”.
~Author Unknown

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”
~Oscar Wilde

Keep Calm and VolunteerDo everything you can to create an amazing, inspiring experience for your volunteers– and you won’t regret it.

Because isn’t it a true happiness to help others?

About the author: Lesley J. Vos is a blogger. She writes for Bid4Papers and many other websites, sharing her writing experience and helping others improve their writing skills. Lesley volunteered for Euro 2012 in Ukraine, and she had a background in volunteer teaching of French for Ukrainian students.