Giving is a good thing. We can give our money, our expertise and our time. 

In many ways, the latter is the most important. When we share ourselves in a selfless way through volunteering our time, the world opens up to new possibilities. People feel understood, cherished and honored. That’s where true societal growth takes place. We’re working together to make a better world.  

Over the past few years, “Done-in-a-Day Volunteering” has become very popular. People want volunteer opportunities that are convenient. They want to “get in and get out.” It’s fun, it’s active, it feels great. And it didn’t take your whole day! 

That’s an energizing approach. But to truly get the greatest benefit from volunteering – both on the giving and the receiving end – it must be done differently.  

1. Consistent, Devoted Time

We need to be available at least once a week, and sometimes for many hours. Often, it entails working with people who are in deep need. It’s not something you can dip in and out of. Nor can you cram in 20 hours and leave. It’s consistent, careful, thorough involvement.

This can be done at the local level as well as internationally. Either way, it merits your consistent, active presence.

2. Vetted Organizations

When giving your money – and especially your time – it is natural to feel uneasy about where your efforts are going. How much of your time and money are going directly to the cause? What impact are you really having in the local community? Find organizations that are vetted for safety, trust, and have a transparent impact. It will allow you to operate with security while focusing all of your energy on your efforts to make a difference. How do you know if you can trust a nonprofit? Check out UniversalGiving, where all of our partner organization are vetted are based on our proprietary 24-stage Quality Model™. Our opportunities ensure that you will volunteer with top-performing projects – and 100% of every donation made goes directly to the cause.  

3. Clear Your Schedule

If you’re ready to take this step, start by clearing out your schedule. Have an honest conversation with yourself. Are you truly ready? What other commitments might come up in your life? It could be an important business meeting or a heavy travel schedule. Perhaps a family member is in great need of you right now or, you simply enjoy preparing dinner for your family each night. These are important and take time.

To get the greatest benefit of volunteering as an individual, and to make the greatest impact in the community, you have to be all-in. Decide if you can make that commitment.

4. Expect To Be Changed

What is most remarkable about committing to a genuine, reliable, time-encompassing volunteering opportunity is the change that occurs. You don’t get that “Done-in-a-Day” volunteering. Contrary to many views, the volunteer is really the person who is changed the most.

If you’re truly listening to another person’s heart, and if you really try to understand their experience… you will be Unbelievably Moved. Your whole life, experience, way you treat others will change. You will be humbled, more thoughtful, in all that you do.

Serving halfway will not do. You have to be all in. Be ready – it’s glorious!

Pamela Hawley is the founder and CEO of UniversalGiving, an award-winning nonprofit helping people to donate and volunteer with top performing, vetted organizations all over the world. She is a winner of the Jefferson Award (the Nobel Prize in Community Service) and has been invited to three Social Innovation events at the White House. She also writes Living and Giving, a blog with the mission of “Inspiring Leaders to Live with Excellence and Love.” For more information about Pamela and UniversalGiving, follow them on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.