Purpose of Sharing Volunteering Experience

In one word: To inspire

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Volunteering story

All volunteering experiences are inherently inspiring. The trick is to capture this inspiration in text. It is the responsibility of the interviewer/writer to draw out the color and details that the reader can connect with. Conveying the energy, satisfaction, pride and purpose that the volunteer feels is actually not that hard. All you need as an interviewer or a writer is a bit if curiosity and ask about detailed accounts of experiences… zoom in on a specific moment and inquire using “what happened, what did you feel, what did you think and what did you do” question. Also, asking lots of “why” questions are helpful to go beneath the surface – where the real inspirational warmth lies.

As a volunteer or an interviewer, you will experience shyness or modesty.  If you find it hard writing about yourself, have a friend write it for you or you write about each other. Since these are stories about volunteers, they are written in third person, interview style. It is important to capture the feelings, thoughts and actions from key events, being as detailed as possible. For instance, it is very interesting to learn about the first exposure to volunteering, i.e. the formative event. This typically happens at a very young age and most likely may involve a role model/teacher/parent. This event forms the beliefs the volunteer holds about the spirit of volunteerism. It is then important to get an example of recent volunteering activity that he/she may have participated in that may serve as an inspiring story.

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Questions to ask

There are no specific set of questions but the following few may come in handy to get the conversation flowing

1- Meaning: What does volunteering mean to you
2- Background: What inspired you to volunteer, please think back and describe specifically a moment or an experience in your life (perhaps in your youth, perhaps with your parent/teacher/role model). What makes this experience an important one for you? What did you feel/think/do when you were in that moment of having that experience?
3- Experience now: What was most rewarding when you were volunteering, specific interaction during the experience that sums it all up for you and makes it all worth it
4- Advice: Advice for people who might be thinking about volunteering
5- Three words: If you were to describe THREE feelings that get triggered in you as you think back at the times you have volunteered
6- Looking forward: What are you looking forward to in terms of future volunteering

Story sample

Click here for a sample of Sharon and Percy visiting patients at a hospital (note: a new window will open)

Good luck!

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