So you want to find a volunteer job? Maybe you need to fulfill a requirement for a college course, want to score some brownie points at work or, even better, you’ve decided that it’s time to give back to your community. Volunteerism is a great way to gain valuable skills and beef-up your resume. Once you’ve scoped out some volunteer websites and looked up some local causes the amount of opportunities might seem overwhelming. How do you choose the best fit?
Discover what moves you.
No matter the reason you want to find a volunteer job, you are most likely to have the best experience if you are doing something you feel good about. Does coming home to your labradoodle make your day? It may be time to see what the need is at your local animal shelter. Passionate about the environment? Chance are, your community has a park cleanup planned.
There are plenty of ways to research organizations. Scouring volunteer matching websites is a great way to start, but did you know that many organizations place ads for volunteers in local newspapers and on traditional job boards? Social media sites are also full of volunteer information and opportunities. Checking out the profile of a potential volunteer organization allows you to see what they are all about and view feedback from other volunteers and stakeholders.
How much time do you have to commit?
You might be looking for a short-term opportunity or a project that you can devote a great deal of time to. Spend some time thinking about your needs and the needs of the group that you’d like to get involved with. There are plenty of volunteer options, big and small. If a day is all that you have to give, consider signing up to volunteer at a fundraising event or informational fair. If you are handy with a computer, virtual volunteering might be an option. Be upfront when you approach an organization, that way they can give you options that work with your time-frame. Some organizations provide a schedule for their volunteers, others let you come and go on your own terms. Do a little research and find out upfront what you’ll be expected to take on.
It’s OK to start small
Some organizations like to see what you are all about before assigning you a large task. Keep in mind, they’ve probably worked with a lot of different personalities and there is a pretty good chance that they’ve been burned more than once. Folding a newsletter or fixing a window may sound like a small thing to you, but if it’s saving them time and money, you are making a difference. It’s perfectly acceptable to provide a resume when applying for a volunteer job. Even though you won’t earn a salary, you will be gaining skills, so crafting a volunteer resume might be worth your time.
Don’t be afraid to ask.
Just because an opportunity is not advertised, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Many organizations need help but don’t have the time to put together a comprehensive list of all of their needs. Are you a computer whiz? An artist? Have a knack for planning events? You might just be surprised at what you can make happen.