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By Hope C.
There is no doubt that giving back is important, but it can be difficult when deciding how to do so. There are countless volunteer opportunities in every community, so it may feel overwhelming to try and find the right cause for you. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you find the best fit when it comes to volunteering opportunities!
1. Find Your Passion
While all volunteer work is good, your experience will be immensely better if you choose a cause that you are genuinely interested in. You shouldn’t choose a specific organization just because you think it will look impressive or is the most popular. Volunteering is about a lot more than checking off a box on your resume or trying to stand out in the college application process. It will be more beneficial for both you and the organization that you are working with if you truly care about the cause. Ask yourself what it is that you are passionate about. For example, if your passion is teaching others, you could try out tutoring or volunteering at a museum. If you’re passionate about physically building things, try working with an organization such as Habitat for Humanity. If you love animals, try a pet shelter. The options are limitless when it comes to worthy organizations, so look for a cause that is important to you!
2. Know Your Time Commitment
Make sure that you are realistic about how much time you have to give. Depending on the organization that you choose, there will be differing levels of commitment expected. Pull out your calendar and check your availability. Keep this in mind when considering volunteer opportunities and the positions within them. It’s okay to start small!
3. Identify Your Skills
When choosing a cause to volunteer for, it is important that you consider what you have to offer. What will you bring to the team or organization that you are volunteering for? Some nonprofits have specific areas where they are looking for help. Look for some that apply to you! These can include skills such as marketing, fundraising, planning, building, or public relations. These may sound like daunting tasks but organizations are also looking for people who have connections in the community, are good at working with kids, enjoy outdoor projects, and so on. Similar to finding your passion, identifying your skills will help you and your cause! Once you know what you’re looking for, it may be easier to narrow down your top choices.
4. Do Research
Make sure to do research and try out different places! You can research in many different ways; you can look around your community for local charities, talk to friends or family, and search on the internet. Many sites such as volunteermatch.org allow you to type in your interests and generate organizations where you can volunteer. Directories in your local community centers, school bulletins, and counseling offices also have similar resources. Take your time so that you pick the cause where you will be the most impactful!
5. Start Small
It’s okay to start with baby steps rather than quickly jumping into a huge commitment. Many organizations will even let you try helping at smaller events to find out if you are a good fit! Try it out and see what you enjoy before making a decision. Even after you have decided on the cause where you will be volunteering, there is no need to overload yourself too quickly. It’s best to get to know your organization and become comfortable with what you are doing. This way, you’ll also help avoid the dreaded volunteer burnout. As you feel more confident with your tasks, you can step it up and begin to work on bigger projects! Work with your level of comfort and the timeline that is best for you and your organization.
It can be challenging to decide where you are going to volunteer. These are some things to consider so that you can help make a change in the best way possible. Remember that no act of service is too small, and you have already taken the first steps towards making a difference! Rather than choosing the first opportunity that you come across, make an informed decision and find the right fit. Don’t forget to have fun in the process!