Ways to Connect Your Team While Making a Difference

I volunteer multiple times a week at The Farm at Oatland North, an animal sanctuary for farm animals. It is a beautiful, special place where retired, abandoned and abused animals come to live out their lives in peace.  Periodically we have groups come to help us with the chores, because we are a 501(c) 3 and entirely run by volunteers and we appreciate all the help we can get.

Depending upon their ages and interests, volunteer groups scoop paddocks, mend fences, paint, clean out the water buckets, etc. It’s dirty, physical work as well as very satisfying. 

This got me thinking about how teams bond when they get to do new and unexpected things together. We often think of fun field trips or fancy dinners when we want to connect and create special memories. Volunteering together can also be an excellent way to trigger endorphins, build relationships, and make a difference in our communities or for causes special to our teams.

It’s important to find the right volunteer opportunity for your team. The people on your team might have different interests and enjoy different activities.  This means selecting a place or way to volunteer together will take communication, collaboration and possibly some compromise.

Here are some ideas to select a place or way to volunteer together:

  1. Decide if this is a one time event or something the team wants to do regularly.
  2. Determine the ideal days and times for the team to volunteer.  Is it during work hours, evenings, or weekends? Is it a project you can work asynchronously on?  Is this a 2 hour or all-day event?
  3. Brainstorm places or groups for whom the team may want to volunteer. For example:
    1. Hospitals
    2. Nursing homes
    3. Schools
    4. Communities
    5. Non-profit organizations
  4. Brainstorm ways to volunteer. Do they prefer to work with people, animals, to raise money, or to do physical work. For example there are many different ways a team could volunteer to support a local homeless shelter including: 
    1. Hold a coat drive 
    2. Prepare and serve a meal 
    3. Clean up or paint the shelter
    4. Organize a fun run to raise money for the shelter
  5. Narrow down your ideas and select the one(s) you want to do the most.
  6. Reach out to the organization or group you want to volunteer with and work out arrangements.

It may take some time and some compromise to find something that everyone is interested in. Perhaps, you alternate activities so that everyone gets the opportunity to do something they are excited about. Be creative and empower your team to decide what and how they will do this.

If allowed, take lots of pictures to share afterwards and make time to tell your stories, talk about the impact of the volunteering and celebrate the effort made by the team. When volunteering is truly volunteering (not volun”told”), it’s incredibly fulfilling.

Please share ideas for teams to volunteer in the comments below.

About the Author: Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams, Team Consultant Academy, and FORWARD, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing.

Learn. Share. Practice. Move FORWARD.  Join the Better Teams community, FORWARD, to network and grow with some of the most experienced professionals in the field of team building and facilitation.  LEARN MORE

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