Welcome to another “face of ACS”, an interview series starring ACS Volunteers and their journey in serving the non-profit community.
Jennifer Wannenmacher started volunteering at ACS in early 2019 and is part of the ACS Community Outreach team, which regularly meets with NGOs to learn more about their organizations and the ways in which ACS (and ACS volunteers) can support and journey with the different NGOs.
When was your very first volunteering experience and when was that?
My first volunteering experience, and still ongoing, is with Mother’s Choice, a local charity which serves children without families and pregnant teenagers. When I was a Secondary School student in Hong Kong, I would stroll down Bowen Road after school to the Baby Care Home and take care of the babies. When I returned to Hong Kong after university, I continued to stay involved with Mother’s Choice mainly through fundraising assistance. My whole family now serves in some capacity with Mother’s Choice: my husband is on the Board and my children are out on the streets selling flags on Flag Days and raffle tickets at events. I’ve had a long term relationship with Mother’s Choice, and it has given our family opportunities to serve together.
You have deep and varied volunteering experience – what, in your view, keeps volunteers coming back for more?
Many volunteers would agree that, alongside giving of time, resources and finances, comes an abundance of receiving back while volunteering. Volunteering often exposes me to uncomfortable and helpless situations, but the feelings derived from providing assistance and meeting inspiring individuals – both at the NGO and fellow volunteers – keeps me connected. In my current role, I find the access to NGOs to be an invaluable and interesting prospect; and to somehow be of assistance to the NGO staff is a privilege. I am often inspired learning about diverse NGOs and their mission, and this has increased my appreciation for those individuals who endeavor to make our city a better one.
What top tips do you have for NGOs to engage better with their volunteers?
Volunteers want to know that they are making an impact and feel emotionally connected with the NGO. I suggest that NGOs can better engage with their volunteers by showing them the impact of their volunteering, via statistics. For example, the number of beneficiaries served or the incremental value of improvement from increased funds. Another way is to give volunteers the opportunity to visit the beneficiaries. And finally, in order to stay connected with volunteers, I encourage NGOs to show consistent, heartfelt, and thoughtful appreciation via notes, videos and their Annual Report.
Thank you Jennifer!