How I was a Bad Volunteer
Volunteering is usually a great way to save money and make a workshop more affordable for yourself. However with the benefits come the responsibility of being a good volunteer. I’m kind of ashamed to admit this, but this weekend I was a sub-par volunteer at LabLove.
Due to having a lack of transportation, in addition to being unfamiliar with the Philadelphia metro I missed my first volunteer shift and had to switch with the person doing the second one instead. I woke up the volunteer coordinator in the morning, calling her in an attempt to inform her that I was running late and lacking a ride. Lastly, I had to miss my last volunteer shift, because my ride which I previously thought was going to stay for the last dance was understandably fatigued and wanted to head home early.
So in an attempt to help volunteer coordinators and volunteers everywhere and slightly make up for myself failing, here is my basic guide on how to be a good volunteer.
- Read the information the volunteer coordinator provides you and keep a hard-copy on yourself: Especially for bigger events, often the event coordinator is trying to juggle multiple volunteers and tasks to complete at the same time.The less you have to interrupt them to get clarification on things, the more time they have to get things done.
- Be honest about when you are available to volunteer: If you are a late-night owl who has trouble waking up, the morning shift is not for you. Likewise if you are someone who loses track of time on the dance floor, a mid-dance shift is probably not good for you as well. If you have any doubts of being available at a certain time, play it safe and put yourself as unavailable instead of making the volunteer coordinator try to find a last minute replacement for you.
- Have transportation to your volunteer shifts: If you have a car, then it is as simple as making sure you leave early so you arrive to your shifts on time. However if you are without a car, then that means securing a way to get to the venue on time for your shift. If you can’t guarantee that, it is better to just list you are unavailable.
- Be friendly, helpful and courteous: This one is for the workshop attendees just as much as the volunteer coordinator. When you are volunteering, you are doing a job in exchange for payment for a service. This is common sense, if you were working at the front desk of business you wouldn’t be caught talking to your friends while ignoring a customer would you?
What it comes down to is respect, the workshop organizers are kind enough to give an opportunity for people who may not be able to normally attend a workshop to show up. You can pay that back by giving them less things to worry about and being effective at the role they are providing you in exchange for a discount at their event.
After my blunder of a volunteering experience, I emailed the LabLove coordinator apologizing for being a sub-par volunteer and offered to pay via PayPal for the time I missed. I would advise people to do the same and make amends if while volunteering you mess up, irregardless if it is ones own personal irresponsibility or a misunderstanding. It is the nice thing to do and most people will understand you are just human. (This also applies to most aspects of dancing/life as well)