10 Tips and Ideas for Potential Volunteers

Before volunteering, one consider the following suggestions:

1.  Research the cause and issues important to you.  Search for organizations that compliment the issues that motivate you the most to want to make a positive difference.  If you can't find an organization that suits your interests, try starting one on your own.  You can rally your friends, neighbors, businesses and family in your community to participate in your cause.  It could be anything from cleaning up the grafitti and other vandalism around your community to visiting the local children's hospital or nursing home to make someone's day. 

2.  Consider your skills.  Look for volunteer opportunities that compliment your skills and personality.  For example, if you enjoy horseback riding and like to help children, perhaps you can volunteer at a therapeautic riding stable to offer assistance to children with disabilities. 

3.  Consider opportunities to learn & gain new skills.  Perhaps you enjoy writing as a hobby and would like to expand your hobby into improving your writing and editing skills by volunteering at a local animal shelter and assist with the publication of their monthly newsletter.  It can possibly even open the doors for a future career in writing. 

4.  Combine your goals.  Search for volunteer opportunities that will help you achieve other goals in your life.  For example, if you would like to learn more about cooking, volunteer at a food bank that teaches cooking skills.  Or if you would like to be more active and lose a few pounds, volunteer at a city park or local YMCA to help out with the summer youth programs. 

5.  Don't over-commit your schedule.  Make sure the time you want to give for volunteering does not interfere with other commitments in your life.  You don't want to exhaust all of your energy where you may neglect other areas in your life.  Manage your time wisely by searching for opportunities that fit your schedule and needs.  If you can only handle something short term with a set maximum number of weekly hours, make sure you stress this to the organization's volunteer coordinator. 

6.  Prepare to be interviewed, when inquiring for volunteer opportunities.  Nonprofit organizations have to be careful when accepting the services from volunteers.  If you contact an organization with an offer to volunteer, you may be asked to come in for an interview and submit a resume and complete a volunteer application just as you would for a job interview.  It's in the organization's best interest and most beneficial to those it serves to make certain you have the skills and commitment for the available volunteer opportunities.

7.  Consider volunteering as a family.  Look for opportunities suitable for everyone in your immediate family to do together as a team.  When families volunteer together, the experience can bring them closer together.  It can also teach young children the value of giving their time and effort.  Such an opportunity, provides everyone in the family to skills and experiences never before enountered, which gives the entire family a shared experience as a wonderful family memory.  Volunteering can even become an annual family tradition.   

8.  Volunteering from your home computer!  Many organizations offer opportunities to do volunteer work over the computer.  For example, you can be a peer mentor contact for a shut in with a computer.  Another example would be to help edit and type a term paper for someone with a disability.  This type of volunteering is excellent for those with limited time or no transportation. 

9.  Many community organizations are in need of volunteers.  Hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, and churches use volunteers for a great deal of their work.  Here are some further volunteer opportunities to  consider:

  • Day Care Centers
  • Animal Shelters and other Animal Welfare Organizations
  • Neighborhood Crime Watch
  • Public Schools and Colleges
  • Halfway Houses
  • Community Theaters
  • Drug Rehabilitation Centers
  • Fraternal Organizations and Civic Clubs
  • Retirement Centers 
  • Meals On Wheels
  • Homeless Shelters
  • Church or Community Sponsored Soup Kitchens or Food Pantries
  • Museums, Art Galleries and Monuments
  • Community Choirs, Bands and Orchestras
  • Prisons
  • Neighborhood Parks
  • Youth Organizations, Sports Teams, and After-School Programs
  • Shelters for Battered Women and Children
  • Historical Restorations, National and State Parks

10.  Most importantly, give voice to your heart through your giving and volunteering!  Bring your heart & enthusiasm with you to volunteer opportunities.  What one gives to his/her community is immeasurable!  To all those that make a positive difference in our society, Thank You!  Just imagine what more we can do to help our communities! 

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