How to find the right volunteering opportunity

February 16, 2021

Volunteering is a great way to strengthen communities and support good causes. Adults looking to volunteer for the first time may be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of opportunities to lend a hand.

Finding the right volunteering opportunity requires careful consideration of a host of factors, including some that people new to volunteering may be unaware of.

• Time: One way to narrow down your volunteering opportunities is to consider how much time you have to give back. If your schedule is often hectic, it may be hard to honor a commitment to weekly volunteering. In such instances, signing up for a weekend park cleanup once per month or another opportunity that requires a similar commitment of time might make the most sense. Retirees, adults working part-time or people whose employers allow flex hours might be more suited to time-consuming commitments like coaching youth sports or delivering meals to the elderly.

• Interests: Volunteering and working can be similar, but they’re also different. And the main difference may be related to the motivation to keep coming back. Many people may continue to work at jobs they don’t like because those jobs pay for their homes, cars, etc. But if volunteers don’t like their volunteer work, then they can simply walk away without any financial fallout. Adults committed to giving back to their communities should consider their own interests when looking for volunteering opportunities. A passion for sports might inspire some to coach local youths. Men and women of faith may feel compelled to volunteer at their house of worship. An opportunity that incorporates existing interests and benefits the local community is a successful formula for many long-time volunteers.

• Safety: Safety should always be a consideration when looking for a volunteering opportunity, but it’s taken on heightened importance in 2020. With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 ongoing, it’s important that prospective volunteers familiarize themselves with a charitable organization’s safety protocols prior to signing up as a volunteer. Adults who are deemed low-risk for getting sick from COVID-19 must still prioritize safety, as friends, family members or neighbors may be more vulnerable. Many organizations have gone to great lengths to protect their volunteers and the people they’re trying to help, so don’t be afraid to inquire about protocols before signing up.

No two volunteers are the same. When looking for volunteer opportunities, adults must give ample consideration to how volunteering fits into their lifestyles and how each opportunity aligns with their interests and concerns.