How to Motivate Yourself When Volunteering for a Charity



This is a collaborative post with Markel.


When volunteering for a charity, there are many different aspects to be aware of- none moreso than how you (and your team) stay motivated to continue the wonderful work you do.


It is important to remember the reason why you’re giving up your time for your chosen charity, whether you are working in one of the many high street charity shops, volunteering as a leaflet dropper, you're out on the high street raising money for them or you're helping the charity out behind the scenes.



When working in a team of volunteers, it is important to ensure that they’re sufficiently motivated to continue doing their important work.


There are many ways you can do this and Markel has a few ideas already – their post inspired the one you’re reading now actually!


Find out about my experiences with motivation and running- and how raising money for a charity kept me motivated to stick to my goals.


So, What Is Motivation?


Motivation can be defined in one of three ways:

  • A reason/s for acting or behaving in a particular way

  • Desire or willingness to do something; enthusiasm

  • A set of facts and arguments used in support of a proposal


It is the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviours. It is what helps you to lose weight, for instance, or pushes you to get that promotion at work.


In short, motivation causes you to act in a way that gets you closer to your goals.



Motivation also involves factors that either directly or indirectly keep you on the right path towards your desired goal. Some of these, however, are not outwardly observable by someone watching your behaviour.


In this instance, it is more inward and therefore the behaviour requires more effort on your part to continue towards whatever goal you have in mind.


This means that motivation can be easily lost. It is a psychological desire which, upon completion of your goal, can release a whole host of the good feeling hormones, serotonin and dopamine which leave you with a good feeling and encourages you to continue doing the behaviour that led to the release of these two happy hormones.



As humans, we crave these good feelings, always looking for the next boost.


Working with others, giving up your time unselfishly to work for a charity and doing a random act of kindness are a few good ways to get that next high.


Finding The Motivation To Train For Half Marathons


I’ve recently completed my second half marathon, but when I took part in my first (Leeds Half Marathon May 2022) I genuinely had to dig deep to find motivation because it was the biggest distance I had ever run.


Keeping myself motivated during the dark Winter days was particularly difficult because of the cold and the fact I’d not long started running and I worried I’d not be able to finish on the day.


The longest distance I’d previously covered before signing up to do the Leeds Half Marathon was 10K, and even then I worried I wouldn’t be able to complete the hilly terrain course. However, when I did I knew that anything was possible if I put my mind to it.



Raising money for a charity really helped to keep me motivated, as it meant that there was something bigger than myself.


Knowing that whilst I was running 13.1 miles, I was also raising money and awareness for them too, definitely helped to keep me going whilst I was putting in the miles during training!


Having a goal to work towards whilst undertaking something as monumental as training for a half marathon (or even a full!) ensures that, however you feel during your runs, there will always be something bigger for you to concentrate on when you find yourself struggling.


When I ran the Great North Run, the goal obviously was to finish in a good time, but more than that, there was the charity I was raising money for.



To know that I was putting myself through the rigours of training for a reason bigger than crossing the finish line definitely helped to keep me going on my training runs and through the 13.1 miles of the Great North Run!


Knowing I’d meet the team in the charity village afterwards was also a good motivator because I didn’t want to let them down by making them wait a long time for me to finish!


Despite them saying they’d be there until the absolute end of the run, I still didn't want to disappoint them! This, combined with the fantastic work of my chosen charity, definitely spurred me on to complete the 13.1 miles within my range of 3 hours.



Finding Motivation During Training!


Along the way on my training, every run gave me the motivation to continue. I figured I needed more motivation when I had to do a speed run, rather than when the training plan called for a long run. I’m built for endurance not speed!


But sometimes, especially when the weather was against me, it felt particularly hard to drag myself out of bed, lace up my trainers and do the run. But I found that once I was up and out the door, it was easier to go because I’d go before my brain had time to catch up!



If I was doing a long run, then pre-planning the night before really helped to ensure I got up and did the run. Getting my breakfast of choice ready, in my case, porridge and a banana, all set up in the pan with milk in it, ensured it required as little effort as possible on my part.


One tactic I’ve now learnt through my training, is ensuring that there are as few a barriers in the way as possible to get me to my goal.


This is something that can be applied to any goal. For example, if you're volunteering for a charity, you could get your outfit ready the day before or get a ride instead of walking.


Getting my breakfast ready is definitely one of them, as well as ensuring my running gear is all washed and ready, I’ve an idea of the route I’m going to take, all the technology is charged up and working correctly and I’ve a treat lined up for afterwards!



All of these steps gave me the motivation to step onto the start line of my very first half marathon. As well as all the support I was getting from the people in my life, both on and off line. As the Winter gave way to Spring, the better weather also helped to get me out the door, as running in thermals is no fun!


Whenever I’d have a good run it would push me onto the next one in my training plan. The so-called ‘runner's high’ would last all day, leaving me in a happy state and wanting to push onto the next distance in my plan.



Motivation is a tricky beast. Once found, it can be hard to keep and even more difficult to find again.


Sometimes it can feel like you’re never going to find it again, but I promise you will! Whether you're volunteering for a charity or building up the courage to go for a run, I hope these ideas and experiences can help you get into your groove again.


Have you ever struggled with motivation? I’d love to know more!


Love, Sarah xoxo

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A 30 something woman navigating life, sharing posts focussing on mental health, midsize fashion, self-care routines and life as a vegan.

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