As mentioned in a previous blog, Volunteering 101: Where to Start, volunteering speaks to an almost animalistic instinct within humans to help their fellow kind. And while we, as a species, want to help others, it can be overwhelming figuring out how. Although we all might have the same calling to help one another, we don’t all express ourselves in the same ways, enjoy the same things, or have the same skill sets. Therefore, how we want to help volunteer is going to vary as well. To give and get the most from volunteering, it is essential to find an avenue that best suits each individual’s interests and skills. While one person might enjoy organizing a car wash for charity, another might prefer to read a story to kids at a local library.
The first step of doing anything is deciding what you want to do. Rather than looking for ways to get involved in multiple events and organizations, hone in on one or two issues or causes that you want to focus on. It is also important to remember that volunteering can act as a stepping stone within one’s career, so it can be beneficial for volunteers to center their focus on what suits their skill sets. However, volunteering can also be doing the mundane tasks that are crucial to an organization’s success. Volunteers should determine which types of causes and organizations to give back to, as well as in what capacity they can and want to give back. Once these things have been decided, there are many ways to go about locating the right organizations in need of the right skill sets.
Those who live around the same area they graduated can look into an alumni association; these types of organizations often host events for the schools and charity, as well as help to increase a person’s network. Parents looking for more opportunities can ask their children’s school about the PTA, or Parent Teacher Association; this association helps organize events for the school, but also the students and teachers. People with a religious background could enlist the help of faith-based networks and churches to find opportunities near home.
This organization was founded in 1998, and to this day, has connected millions of people to a volunteer opportunity that fits them. Volunteers search the website with their zip code and a keyword, such as technology or art. The site also has filters for cause areas, and age ranges for those who aren’t exactly sure how they can give back. Once a match is found, volunteers can message the organization through VolunteerMatch. Today, Volunteer Match has nearly 110,000 active opportunities, nearly 130,000 participating organizations, and has almost 16 million users. VolunteerMatch can also be used to create volunteer opportunities.
Other websites dedicated to helping volunteers find the right opportunity in their area:
- VOA.org (Volunteers of America)