It can be tough to remember the importance of visible results. This applies especially to community-based programs that use volunteers, where there is an overarching mission of change that might take a lifetime to come about. However, it’s important to set short term goals and achieve results that can be appreciated.
That’s not to say that the long term interest must be sacrificed – much the opposite; your short term results should build and combine into long term goals and results. Short term results are key to keeping volunteers motivated and interested. People want to know that their actions are important and are having an impact. When you donate to a charitable organization, they often will send pictures, letters, or other information to show what difference your contribution is making. The same goes for volunteer labor; at the end of a day of volunteering, you would like to see a difference.
I am excited to see how much progress I can make in a day of volunteering, because I feel great when I can see the good I bring to the world. On the average day, I hope that my work helps other people, but I can’t always see the direct results. Volunteering with one of Volunteer Maryland’s service sites, Ardmore Enterprises, as Kerry wrote about recently, was a fun experience because it provides a tangible sense of accomplishment. I may have not made a huge difference in one day, but now, feeling like a volunteer champ, I am ready to return again for future service projects.
Always remember the importance of short term, tangible success to people. Success will motivate and encourage them, and remind them why they do what they do.
What projects do you have that are frustrating you right now because you can’t see results? Or on the flip side, have you ever had a really great day because you were able to see your efforts come to fruition? I’d love to hear your stories!