How to start volunteering and love it
Find the right fit to help your community and feed your passion.
Want to make a difference through your volunteer work? The secret is to find the right fit. Consider these elements to find volunteer opportunities that can turn into the ultimate passion project.
What is your volunteering goal?
"Giving back" is worthwhile, of course, but defining what you want to accomplish is more helpful. In addition to making an impact in the lives of others, some volunteers may also take on a volunteer role to learn more about their community, make new friends or broaden their professional network. Your goal doesn't have to be broad or long-term. In fact, narrow and small in scope is a good way to test out the waters. For example, "feeding the hungry" is admirable, but how about "organizing a holiday food drive" as a more specific effort?
What groups are working toward your goal?
After goal-setting, this is a great next step. Nonprofits have a mission and there may be different groups that work on different aspects related to your goal. For example, one group may work on helping homeless veterans, while another may do outreach to homeless teens. VolunteerMatch is a great resource to help you find volunteer organizations that might fit your goals. In addition, you can create a volunteer resume that lists your experiences, interests and skills so the organization can get an idea of who you are.
How do I learn more?
After you have decided on the organization that fits your interests, set up an interview with the volunteer coordinator. Learning about the organization, their mission and different opportunities they might have available for volunteers, will give you an idea of whether it’s a good match for what you are looking for.
What are realistic time commitments you can offer?
Be honest about your schedule and limit your initial involvement. It’s tempting to commit to large chunks of time, especially when you’re starting out as a new volunteer, but small commitments can help you ease into the right volunteer match. A good idea to ease the volunteer process is to attend a volunteer meeting and interact with other fellow volunteers so you can understand the type of commitment you will need to make moving forward.
What if a group isn't the right fit?
It is ok if you feel that the group you are volunteering at is not a good fit for your skills and or interests. If you find that you are not making an impact or you don't feel valued, do not hesitate to move on. Use it as a learning opportunity in trying to find an organization where your volunteering passion fits. Be sure to talk with neighbors or others in your community about potential volunteer opportunities.
Ultimately, finding something where you can feel connected to the organization can help you make a bigger difference in the lives of others. Whether you volunteer as a mentor to a child, do a volunteering vacation, help at an animal shelter or spend time helping in a community garden, to name a few, these opportunities to give back will also be very rewarding for you.
Join the community of Good Neighbors. Download the 100 for Good® app today (available on IOS and Android App stores) to start tracking your Acts of Good. Together, we can do so much good and inspire others to join the movement of making this world a better place, one Act of Good at a time.