There may be multiple reasons why you want to do community service, but there is more involved than just showing up at an organization and saying you want to help. Finding a meaningful volunteer opportunity can be challenging for someone looking to make the best use of their time and talent. To find the right place to volunteer, follow these simple steps:
Determine your availability
Before you commit to becoming a volunteer, check your schedule to determine when and how often you are comfortable giving up your time. You want to ensure that you can follow through on your volunteer commitments without neglecting other priorities.
Acknowledge your motivation
Many people are motivated to volunteer at the invitation of friends or family, a call to action from a celebrity or a simple desire to give back. All good reasons, but sometimes an even better motivation to volunteer is self-interest. Volunteering can be an opportunity to develop new skills, meet new people, stay active, learn about important issues in your community and can even lead to a new or better job.
Recognize your skill set
You know yourself well enough to know what you have the skills to do. Those skills could be related to your job or to hobbies you enjoy during your free time. Find places to volunteer that would benefit from your specific skill set and that can offer you opportunities to develop and practice new skills. Doing so will make the experience more valuable for you and the organization you’re seeking to help
Find a need in your community
Most people want to volunteer to make a difference in their community. If an organization doesn't appear to need your help, don’t give up; there is always a need to fill. It could be children who need help to keep pace with school, someone that’s hungry, but you’d never know it or sometimes, an organization won’t know what they are missing until a volunteer offers a creative idea and the talent and dedication to make it happen.
Do some research
To find the right place to volunteer, you will need to do a little research. There are numerous tools designed to match you with an organization that needs you. You might start by checking in with one of over 1,800 United Way locations in more than 41 countries and territories. Once you consider your options contact the place that seems like the best fit.
Many organizations require a background check before they will allow you to interact with the individuals they serve. Don’t take it personally. They are only seeking to protect everybody involved. The process can take some time, so be patient.
Now you're ready to give back to your community and advance the common good.