Finding your ideal volunteer role is a process that can help you better understand who you are, how you like to work and with whom you’d like to work— all before you begin the actual search. Here are five ways you can help make the most of your time as you figure out what you were born to do.
Just a few minutes of soul searching can save you hours of volunteer searching. What are your interests? Are there special skills you have to offer, either professional or recreational? Is there something you’re great at, but unable to do in your day-to-day job? Would you rather work for a large organization and choose from several roles, or do you feel more comfortable working alone?
Choose your target.
Perhaps you’d like to make a difference in the life of a child, make it easier for seniors to navigate their daily challenges, make a lasting impact on a disadvantaged community, or show animals the love and attention you feel they deserve. Choosing a volunteer role that aligns with your passion can help you feel more engaged and fulfilled. And while volunteering is ultimately a service to others, it’s important to feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction of your own.
Let’s talk commitment.
One of the best ways to ensure a positive volunteer experience is to make sure your new role fits with your overall schedule. Being available doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll want to fill every open time slot. Consider easing into your new role in a way that leaves you more opportunity to expand if you really like what you’re doing. Are you leaving any time for yourself, your family and your friends? Some volunteer roles require you to work a regular weekly schedule, in addition to occasional weekends and evenings. A map of your anticipated availability over the next year may make it easier to determine which roles make the most sense.
Pick a place.
Today, you can volunteer from home, indoors, outdoors, in and around your community, and all of the above. Making a list of priorities can help you decide how important location should be in your decision. Do you want to dress up, meet new people and have face-to-face interactions, or would you rather serve others in your PJs, from the comfort of your home? With volunteering, the choice is yours, but answering these questions now may help you start down the right path.
Setting realistic goals and expectations can make for a more enjoyable volunteer experience, especially early on. Be honest with yourself about how much time you’re willing to give, how far you’re willing to travel, and whether you really want to keep leveraging your existing skills or take this opportunity to learn something new. No matter what you decide, remember that the smallest donation of your time, energy and resources can make a big difference.
So, now that you’ve gotten it all figured out, it’s time to use this Volunteer Wizard to help you find your next opportunity.