What are Your Volunteers Learning from You?

A Horton's Kids volunteer and student.
Often volunteers learn as much as those they serve. A volunteer and student with Horton’s Kids.

Recently I was perusing my long list of LinkedIn groups, and I stumbled upon a discussion about what skills people have acquired from volunteering.

I was quickly captivated by the stories the group members told. The more I read, the more two things became clear:

1. Extraordinary people volunteer.

2. Volunteering will help make you an extraordinary person.

Below is just a sample of what people said they learned from volunteering. I bet if you ask your volunteers what they’ve learned from their experiences with you, they will have some similarly incredible answers:

[pullquote]Working with adults who have ADHD is challenging and fun, and you learn to think on your feet.[/pullquote]

“I have volunteered for most of my life as well. In high school, I helped tutor inner city children, and I still remember one young girl in particular. I learned that perhaps all they needed was a little extra help and attention (at least back then). Being an assistant Brownie leader was also rewarding, learning how to relate to girls in that capacity. Then my volunteerism leaned towards the environment and activism. I parlayed my years of learning and experience into a new career after I lost my job in 2009. Yet another rewarding opportunity was being a facilitator for a local ADD support organization. Working with adults who have ADHD is challenging and fun, and you learn to think on your feet. While earning my BS, and then after, I turned that experience into a part time side business leading a mutual ADD coaching group.”

“I have learned human resource management and project management skills. Collaborating skills, training with executive staff, and leadership skills. Also tons of training, curriculum design and presentations skills. Most important was the team-building and patience. Volunteering is fun, rewarding and so very worthwhile… we always get back so much more than we give…”

“I learned about public speaking while volunteering at the Houston Zoo. We were each assigned an animal at the zoo and had to stand in front of their exhibit and talk to people about the animal and habitat, etc. Also, “manning” booths at various events for a variety of volunteer organizations — that teaches you how to speak with people from all walks of life about something you are passionate about. Love it!”

Have you asked your volunteers what they’ve learned from you? How do you make sure your organization is providing enriching experiences for your volunteers?