When you first decide to volunteer for a non-profit, you probably start with focusing all your time and energy on choosing the perfect cause, the type of volunteer project or your favourite location. However, volunteering—particularly skilled volunteering where you make your expertise available for a worthy cause—is very similar to an unpaid professional project in that you should dedicate time to understand not only if the prospective non-profit is working on a project that can make the most out of your technical expertise, but also whether they can provide a working environment that fits your behaviour, values, working style and attitude.
While the description of a volunteer project often includes the technical requirements (such as the minimum level of education and years of work experience acquired by the volunteer), it may also include personality traits possessed by the ideal volunteer that would maximise their success in the volunteer position. For example, some projects require team players, while others require their volunteers to be able to work independently with minimal guidance. Some projects require volunteers with a love for details and analyses, and others require a creative and innovative mind.
Knowing yourself, including your working style, attitude and behaviour is certainly useful in any situation in life, and this includes helping you find a volunteer project that suits your personality.
We advise you to include your personality traits on your volunteer project application letter. We also encourage you to discuss your traits during the interview with the host organisation and have an open discussion with the prospective charity about whether you are a good fit with the values and culture of their team.
To help you get prepared to properly present yourself, we recommend taking a personality test. There are a few tests available on the internet that can help you find out about people’s different working styles and orientations that are also applicable to volunteering.
Some free assessment tools are listed below. Finding a non-profit organisation that matches your personality and values as a volunteer is a key factor in a successful volunteer experience. Remember to provide honest responses in order to get the most value out of these assessments!