Have you been thinking of an excellent way to give back to others? Some people enjoy simply giving money to charity, while others like the more hands-on approach that comes with donating time in the form of volunteer work.
If you’re leaning towards the latter, then you will find a nearly endless amount of opportunities available to you. However, volunteering isn’t always as rewarding as many think it will be. The trick is to find something you enjoy doing as much the people you’re helping enjoy what you do for them.
Before you start making phone calls and filling out forms, there some things to consider. Think of this as your guide to finding your perfect volunteer match.
Painting A True Picture
People decide to volunteer their time for a variety of reasons. Some do it to make themselves look good, others are forced to, and even fewer truly enjoy the work that they do regardless of whether or not it is rewarding.
You need to ask yourself what your true reason for wanting to volunteer are. After that, you need paint yourself a real picture of what volunteer work is like.
Chances are you’ve seen pictures online of someone placing dinner on a decorative bedside tray or receiving kisses from a rescue dog. While those things might happen, the reality of volunteer work is a lot harsher than many would like to believe.
Placing dinner on that bedside tray might come with helping an elderly care patient eat the food as well, which can be a messy endeavor. Receiving puppy kisses after a rescue almost certainly came after the fear of being bitten.
These are not the idealist jobs that people create in their minds. They’re a lot of hard work, determination, and attention to detail. It takes passion and drives to stick with a volunteer organization. Do you honestly have what it takes?
Benefits of the Job
If you answered yes to that last question, then welcome aboard! You’ve taken your first step towards being a full-fledged volunteer. While there are several downsides and hardships to any volunteering situation, there are more than enough benefits for a passionate individual to enjoy.
Whether you have a talent or a hear the size of Kansas, here are some of the most rewarding aspects of volunteer work:
- Helping those who are less fortunate than yourself
- Providing crucial assistance to those who cannot help themselves
- Supporting a good cause that sees great things accomplished
- Gaining valuable skills and experience in life, and for on a resume
- Working with like-minded individuals
- Paying past assistance forward
- Raising money for positive outcomes
- Showing support for something you strongly believe in
- Making a difference, whether it is small or large
If you’re ready to do something good for someone else, the environment, animals, you name it; then the next step is to find places to volunteer.
Where to Look
There are numerous places to donate time to, but you should start by having an idea in your head of where your skills, talents, and motivations lie. Most likely, you can find something that aligns with you right inside of your local community.
Either head online or down to the courthouse for a list of volunteer organizations. When it comes to the worldwide web, you can’t go wrong with Nonprofit Connect. This ally member of the National Council of Nonprofits can give you insights to more charities than you could imagine. Plus, they can help hook you up with one to get you started on your volunteer work.
The website will help you find something you’re passionate about then show you all of the opportunities listed on their site. Each listing details specific requirements and skills needed by the organization, giving you the chance to see if you’d make a good fit.
If you choose to stay local, check the directory at your local courthouse for nonprofits and other organizations that might need a helping hand. The easiest to find are senior care homes, but a little research will reveal a whole world of steadfast volunteers behind the scenes of your hometown if care homes aren’t your thing.
Ideas to Get You Started
If you haven’t made up your mind yet (it’s hard, don’t worry), then check out some of these ideas for things you can do right in your hometown.
Do you enjoy working with children? Have a little brother or sister that you care for regularly? Babysit on the weekends?
Head to your local library or children’s museum, and you are guaranteed to find volunteer opportunities. Museums can always use tour guides and extra eyes when groups of children come through. Libraries might want you to do book readings or help little ones find the books they’re looking for.
Youth groups, children’s hospitals, and day care programs are also excellent ways to donate time towards working with children. Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America is another fantastic opportunity if working alongside children is something you have a knack for.
Are you a whiz on a particular subject? Why not offer tutoring services to those who have a harder time grasping the concepts you know like the back of your hand?
Get in touch with an adult literacy program if covering the basics of reading and writing for those less fortunate sounds like your cup of tea or contact a local school to ask about tutoring students if that’s more up your alley.
Assisting the Elderly
Senior centers, nursing homes, and similar facilities are always shorthanded to volunteers. Expect to serve and deliver meals, participate in arts and crafts, and simply spend some quality time with the elderly in this type of volunteer work.
It’s a rewarding experience, and you are guaranteed to learn a few key pearls of wisdom along the way. The stories you’ll hear about individual’s lives and the smiles on their faces when you listen and laugh with them is well worth the donated time.
Hundreds of nonprofits are working towards finding a cure for an illness. You can become part of that effort by helping them with fundraising events. Sometimes you might have to set up and run a table, ask survey questions, or even promote a special event. The best part of research geared volunteering is that you get to choose which cures you want to help work towards.
Environmental protection is something that a lot of people care about these days. If you find yourself fired up when our ecosystems are polluted and damaged, then reach out to nonprofits who fight to protect our natural world.
Most communities have active groups that place a strong focus on the local environment, which means you can be hands-on in protecting your hometown. If you’d rather focus on the international, look into the World Wildlife Fund and the Sierra Club.
Working with Animals
Hop onto Google, and you can find a plethora of animal shelters in and around wherever you live. These organizations require the touch of someone who knows how to work with animals and can donate time to simply being there to give the animals exercise, food, and water.
Often times, these organizations are also involved in active rescues. If you’ve ever dreamed of helping animals find a fur-ever home, then you’ll find dozens of opportunities to make that dream come true just outside of your front door.
If none of those interest you, head over to Volunteer Match where can find the perfect cause to donate time to. They feature multiple organizations for everything from advocacy and human rights to computers and technology. It doesn’t matter where you want to lend a hand; there is an organization just for you.
Once you’ve found a few charities that align with your beliefs and interests, reach out to see what type of help they might need and if you have the skills required to lend a hand. Don’t get discouraged if your first pick doesn’t work out.
You may find that your first choice requires too much of a time requirement based on your work or schools schedule. Perhaps your skillset doesn’t align with who they are looking for at the moment. Keep reaching out and continue to make contacts.
Once you find something that fits you and your lifestyle, the rewarding benefits of being a volunteer will come rolling in. There’s nothing quite like taking the time to contribute to a good cause or help someone in need.
Making the Commitment
Once you do find that special charity, remember to make a commitment to your new volunteer work. Showing up late, canceling at the last minute, or failing to perform your tasks can cost organizations hundreds of dollars. Put your best foot forward, let your passion guide you, and you’ll find your rhythm in the volunteer world.