How To Choose The Best Volunteering Opportunity For You
By volunteering your time and efforts, you don’t just get to give back to the world around you; you teach yourself to see beyond your own reality. You open your mind and heart to others’ experiences, and cultivate gratitude and generosity within yourself. In short – you become a better person. But for volunteer work to have the intended impact, on both the cause and your own mindset, it’s important you pick a placement that’s right for you. How can we do this, considering there are so many campaigns to join and so many admirable organisations seeking assistance?
Below we outline a few key considerations.
Consider Your Interests
Sure, volunteering will likely be rewarding no matter what sector you get involved in.
“But the truth is, we as humans are most motivated to give of ourselves when we’re aligned with our passions.”
So, before choosing a volunteering opportunity, take a moment to think about where your interests lie. Are you, for example, especially enthusiastic about animals? Or is helping young kids more your thing? Do you get fired up when talking about nature conservation? Or feel a deep desire to assist immigrants and refugees in need?
For some of us, it’ll be immediately obvious where we should focus our attention. Others might have to work a little harder to figure it out. But it’s worth doing. If we opt to volunteer in a field that gets our heart racing, we’re much more likely to get out there and do good on days when we’re not feeling particularly inspired, or when our to-do list feels insurmountable. And let’s be honest, we all have those days.
Consider Your Skills
Certain programmes and organisations ask that volunteers have specific qualifications or expertise. They might, for instance, want you to have a medical background or require you to have taught in a school environment before. If you meet specific criteria where most others don’t, then perhaps that’s where you should be concentrating your energy.
It makes sense to volunteer for a programme that calls for skills you already have in your repertoire. That way you can use your strengths not just to boost your bank balance through your daily work, but for the greater good too.
It’s also possible you have certain abilities you’ve just never considered using in a philanthropic capacity. Perhaps you’re proficient at writing, web design or social media management, or maybe you’re really talented at organising events. Do you know how many NPOs desperately need people with such skills? Hundreds. All of them, in fact.
“By taking time to carefully consider your strengths and match them to social needs, you might open your own eyes to totally new volunteering options.”
Consider Your Schedule
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got 20 hours a week to give or just 30 minutes, there’ll be a volunteering opportunity suited to your schedule. But you do have to be realistic about what you can squeeze in – you don’t want to overcommit and underdeliver. That said, don’t underestimate the number of hours you have available – it’s always possible to make time for volunteering. Once you have a clear idea of how much time you have to give, choose an opportunity that fits.
If you’ve got every afternoon free, you could commit to a more intensive arrangement, like tutoring school children for a few hours every day. If you only have a moment to spare here and there, you could seek out micro-volunteering opportunities or jump on the virtual volunteering bandwagon, lending a helping hand online from the comfort of your own home.
Ask These Important Questions
Before you join a volunteering programme, ask the organisers a few key questions to ascertain whether it’s really an initiative you want to get involved in. These include:
- What are the organisation’s primary goals? What does it aim to achieve and what practices have the founders put in place to help realise their objectives?
- Does the organisation involve the targeted community in decision-making? You’ll want to ensure the programme organisers consult local authorities along the way. After all, it’s critical that the project is appropriately addressing real people with real needs.
- Has the impact of the programme been measured? Is it having the desired effect, and is that effect sustainable?
- If there are costs involved in volunteering, how is this money being used? How much is being invested in the cause and the expansion of the programme?
- How much time will you be required to invest in the project? Is this a commitment you can make? Can you rearrange your schedule to make it work?
Find the volunteering opportunity that feels right by taking the time to ask the right questions and to carefully consider your interests and skills. Still not sure where to start? No problem! Contact us at Brownie Points and we’ll connect you with nonprofit organisations in your area.