As a high school student, you are becoming adept at building relationships. This is an imperative skill to help you succeed in the “real world.” Something that you’ve probably figured out by now is that building relationships looks different in every scenario. There are some commonalities though between groups of people. You wouldn’t invite your teacher to go to the movies, just like you wouldn’t interrupt a heartfelt speech from a friend. There are unspoken Do’s and Don’ts for building relationships. Here at x2VOL, our realm is community service. We feel like we have valuable advice about building relationships with nonprofit organizations, and we would like to share them with you.
Before we begin, you might be thinking: Why do I need to build a relationship with a nonprofit? Usually when you volunteer, you will choose to do something you’re passionate about or maybe something you are considering for a career. People at nonprofit organizations are very knowledgeable about their cause and will have advice and valuable insight to offer you.
Introduce yourself to the volunteer leading the project. Even if there are lot of students volunteering, you should approach the lead volunteer and say hello. They will be more likely to remember you.
Be a ghost. Like we mentioned before, it is easy to get lost in the sea of volunteers.
Thank the person for hosting the volunteer event. This may be done at the end of the project or it can be in the form of a follow up email.
Sprint for the proverbial door as soon as you are dismissed. Or, if you do have somewhere to be, go ahead and send the thank you email.
Check out the nonprofit’s website. Sometimes there are national or local events that aren’t heavily advertised. You can also learn a lot about the nonprofits history, who they have worked with, and the core values of the nonprofit.
Show up without a clue on what the nonprofit does. The name of the nonprofit is not always clearly indicative of what the nonprofit does.
Sign up for more events. If you attended an event and enjoyed yourself, go ahead and sign up for another. Your interest and helping hands are much appreciated. In addition, you will get to know the people that work at the organization. They are great resources for you.
Think that it was a great experience and think you would want to do it again, and then not take action. This is common. A student will go and have a fantastic time volunteering, then the student will never visit the location again.
Remember, volunteering is valuable! Make sure you are getting the most out of participating in your community.