OCAF and its mission to provide art centric programming for our community is driven by our volunteers. We need volunteers for opening receptions, art events, facilities improvement and so much more. As OCAF and its programs continue to grow, our needs will grow. The OCAF Board of Directors and staff want the volunteer experience to be a positive and uplifting exchange between you and OCAF; consequently we’ve put together some things to think about if you’re considering volunteering at OCAF.
Think about how much you receive when you give and consider why you want to volunteer. You may have several different reasons. Here are just a few of the many possible motivations identified by other volunteers:
You will probably have some special reasons of your own. Once you're volunteering, you will continue to serve as long as you feel that your efforts are accomplishing something, that your talents are appreciated, and that you make a difference. And if you also like the people with whom you work, so much the better!
Five Points of Advice for Volunteers
Point 1. Start with What You Can Do
When you do start volunteering start with anything that you think you can do. Remember, it's very important to start with what is easier and to gradually move on to more challenging activities as you grow more confident. Starting with what you are sure you can manage, you can lay a solid foundation for future steps.
Point 2. Don't Overburden Yourself
Don't be too ambitious if you hope to continue your activities for any length of time. A modest but continued activity will win trust and help you to be able to stay involved even longer. Remember that it’s important to have the courage to say no to what you think is beyond your ability.
Point 3. Keep Your Promises
Never break promises you've made, even if they seem to be trivial ones that you just happened to make during casual chats. It goes without saying that you must keep your word regarding such things as when you'll be available and the kinds of work you are going to provide. Your responsibility is a very important one. It would not be too much to say that the establishment of a trusting relationship with the other party is a key to your success as a volunteer.
Point 4. Be a Good Manager of Your Time and Energy
There is a limit to both the number of places where you can be involved and the amount of time that you can spend on your volunteer activities. Be aware of the limits, and match your efforts to your goals accordingly.
Point 5. Obtain the Understanding of Your Family
Basically, volunteer workers are required to provide their services when the other party needs them. Sometimes they have to work on Saturdays and Sundays, and sometimes they have to work for extended periods of time. Inevitably, volunteers end up spending less time at home, a possible cause for friction with their families. Don't sacrifice your family or your job for the sake of your volunteer activities. Obtaining full understanding of the people closest to you is an important early step to take.
Tax Credits for Volunteering Costs
Volunteers in the United States can receive tax deductions from the federal government on many costs associated with volunteering, such as mileage and other travel expenses, paper, copying, convention attendance fees, parking, uniforms (if the volunteer purchases his or her own), etc. These deductions apply ONLY if you are NOT getting reimbursed for these expenses by the organization you are assisting, and you are itemizing on your tax form (not if you use the 1040 EZ form).
Please note that the information given here is for general reference only. If you have questions about your situation, please consult a tax professional, or download IRS Publication 526: Charitable Contributions for complete information on this topic. This form provides the latest guidelines on what charitable contributions can and cannot be deducted from your taxes.