Guidelines for a Successful Volunteer Experience: Expectations & Preparations


For the entire volunteer experience, you are representing yourself, your team or organization and Rutgers University.  Your actions will reflect on all of these parties. 


Please dress appropriately for the type of volunteering you will be doing.  If you are in an office setting, dress should be at a minimum, business casual. If you are working outdoors or with some hands-on project, remember to wear close-toed shoes and other protective outerwear.  Also, we suggest that you wear older clothes as they might become damaged. 

  • Respect the organizational culture of the service agency.  The people working at the organization have the experience with and commitment to the agency.  Share your ideas and feedback in a constructive manner. 
  • Treat the experience as a learning opportunity and a chance for personal growth as well as a team building activity for your group or organization. 
  • Keep a positive attitude! Some volunteer opportunities may push you beyond your comfort zone.  Be open to new experiences and challenges but be aware of boundaries and voice your questions or concerns, as well. 
  • Although you may not see the immediate outcome of the service you perform, there can be value in every volunteer project, even the simplest ones. Your presence as a volunteer is appreciated and essential to many of the organizations with which you are working.    
  • Locate the service site supervisor to discuss project expectations and goals.  Make sure you are clear as to your role within an organization. 
  • Be the first to introduce yourself to everyone you meet and let them know you are a volunteer from Rutgers University. 
  • If time allows, request a tour of the agency to learn more about its mission and functions. 
  • Follow the rules and regulations of the service site. 
  • Be aware that you can say “NO” to a task when you feel the request is inappropriate, beyond your skill level and depth of knowledge, or if you perceive a situation to be unsafe physically or emotionally.  
  • Work hard and stay until your shift has ended or you are dismissed. 
  • Make sure to thank the site supervisor or organization for allowing you to volunteer your time before you leave. 
  • Know your rights as a volunteer.  When in doubt…ask and find out! 
  • If you are feeling uncertain about a situation, ask before you act. Practice common sense and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification of help. 
  • When requested by the agency to move off-site to service, travel in pairs (at minimum). 
  • If you are working with children or clients who are members of the opposite sex, always be in the presence of another adult. 
  • Do not share personal contact information with service site clients.  If you feel that this would be appropriate, discuss it with the site supervisor. 
  • Keep any information pertaining to service agency clients confidential, including full names and medical conditions.  There are confidentiality laws that pertain to certain information. 
  • If you have any concerns regarding the safety or well being of a client, please share this information with the service site supervisor.