A Good Start to Good Habits: 3 Easy Steps to Volunteering

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Taking that first step to volunteer can seem daunting. With all of the uncertainty that comes with volunteering uncertainty- volunteer positions generally don't come with a job description- offering to do so requires looking beyond being just a volunteer to seeing that you are participating in something bigger (and better).

Volunteering can look different for everyone. What it boils down to is offering to get involved doing something you are passionate about, have fun, and make connections with others. Bonuses such as job opportunities, professional skill development, and camaraderie are a part of the package too!

If you've never volunteered before, or had a bad first experience and aren't sure if you want to try it again, here are a few quick and easy steps to finding the right volunteer match for you.

1. Find a cause or social justice issue are PASSIONATE about 
If you love environmental sustainability and maintaining a clean earth, you may not mind doing a task your less fond of if it is for the success of an awareness or fundraising event that will support this cause. Perhaps you love just lending a helping hand and being involved in a variety of things just for the fun of it. Whatever lights that fire in your belly to add volunteering to your list of priorities, pursue it!

2. Research organizations and people in your area who are following this same interest and contact them!
This can be the scariest part of all. You are calling or emailing a stranger to say "Hey! I am really interested in what you and/or your organization is doing. How can I get involved as a volunteer?" It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like that. But the beauty of volunteering is rarely will someone turn you away. Rejections are few and far between in the volunteering world and most people are incredibly happy to work with you. Odds are, they share the same exact passion!

Note: If a representative of an organization is rude, be wary and look for another opportunity. Volunteering should not be a one-way street but rather should be fun and a benefit to both you and the organization/group you're working with.

3. Be honest and up front with yourself and the volunteer coordinator about what you're good at and what you may want to try
Volunteering requires some self-lessness, but it is also a way for you to just do what you enjoy. Generally we like what we are good at. If you are good at event planning and like it, say so! The organization/group you're with may need extra help there. If you want to try something new such as fundraising, say so! This your chance to learn and explore. Learning how to communicate your needs, interests, and ideas will help you be better at communicating those of the populations you work with!

It may take a couple tries or you may find the perfect volunteer opportunity for you right away. Enjoy, have fun, and be proud of what you're a part of. You can never underestimate the ripple effect of your positive actions.

-Jacqui, AmeriCorps*VISTA, Center for Community Engagement


Post a Comment