A volunteer always thinks with his or her brain and heart. When good intent, the required skill set and compassion are presented together in the right context, the combination can be deadly in the world of volunteerism. Every volunteer counts, every volunteered hour has a positive impact. Yet, there are some qualities that go a long way in making a volunteer more special and coveted in the non-profit world.

Here’s my list of the top traits that give a volunteer that extra edge:

1. Having gratitude and positivity: When you meet a volunteer, the first thing that strikes you is how positive and cheerful she or he is. Good volunteers are always grateful for what they have and have a distinctly positive energy about them. This makes it easy for the beneficiaries to engage with them and deepens the impact of the session they volunteer for.

2. Compassionate beyond one’s comfort zone is what creates impact in volunteering. An empathetic heart, a helping hand and the willingness to learn and absorb new skills ideas for the sake of those who need it the most, make for a gifted volunteer.

3. When a person is committed or dedicated to a cause and volunteers for it, you can see the reflection of this in the quality of her or his service. The ease and comfort with which they render service is almost enviable. Volunteering can be integrated into our already busy schedules if we truly feel for the cause and the people affected by it. There are some lucky volunteers who find the right fit and their volunteering journey becomes a purposeful part of their life.

4. Being organised and disciplined is a trait that most returning volunteers would have imbibed. Planning one’s time in advance helps one to volunteer regularly. The benefits of this can be felt only if it becomes a discipline in one’s life, in the long run and the result is immense fulfilment for the volunteer.

5. Being flexible in thought and action helps a volunteer to understand the purpose of the session. The ability to respect the NGO or community that seeks your time and understand their perspective takes you a long way as well. A good volunteer never judges the organisation or community she/ he engages with. If you can’t put their needs above your ego, then there is little point in volunteering.

6. A seasoned volunteer knows how important it is to be an effective team player. You need to be someone who is willing to listen to other people, appreciate their point of view, work amicably in a group and above all, be willing to share credit with others.

7. Creativity and imagination are the tools a discerning volunteer will use to involve and hold the attention of the group he or she is volunteering with. Sometimes, even the best-laid plans go waste and your time is precious. So you innovate. You think on your feet and create something that will interest the people you are working with, while keeping the content and purpose of the volunteering session intact.

8. Integrity is the building block of volunteerism and a good volunteer imbibes it. The people we engage with are very often vulnerable and sometimes not in the best frame of mind. A mature volunteer always respects their confidentiality of and is always ethical and honest with them and the volunteering organisation.

As part of a social initiative that facilitates volunteering, it has been a pleasure to see many volunteers who get it right. It may seem intimidating initially, but then the sheer ease of volunteering and the happiness that we see on the faces of the people we work with, take over. We start putting our best foot forward almost intuitively and very soon, each one carves out their volunteering journey.

Happy volunteering and here’s to all of us “getting it right.”