How to Find Volunteer Opportunities
When you volunteer your time and talents, you are not only helping organizations and people in need, you are also helping yourself. Volunteer work comes with a lot of mental and emotional benefits and it can also put you in touch with people who can help you with your own personal and professional goals. Find volunteer opportunities based on your skills and interests by looking for places that need help in your community or doing an online search.
Finding Opportunities In Person
Check with local schools for volunteering opportunities or suggestions.If you are a student, your own school is the best place to start when looking for volunteer work. Visit the guidance counselor or ask a teacher about any opportunities they might be able to direct you towards.
- If you are in college, try the office for student involvement. There are likely a good amount of student organizations based around volunteer work that you could look into or get information from.
- Find out about using your volunteering to get academic credit. Some college programs incorporate volunteer work into the normal curriculum, but there is a chance that other programs might offer a way to earn credit hours through volunteering. If you are a junior or senior in high school, you might be able to work volunteering into your school schedule. See your academic advisor or guidance counselor.
Find out if your local library or museums need any help.They might be looking for ongoing volunteers or need help with special events. Your local Chamber of Commerce would be a great place to start when looking for locally-based volunteer opportunities.
- Even if there are no specific programs that exist through the city itself, they still might be able to direct you to organizations or groups that need help from volunteers nearby.
Reach out to local recreational sports teams.Little League teams are often looking for help from older kids, teenagers, college students, and parents. Visit your local sports complex for a practice schedule, and to get contact information for coaches and leaders.
- There may be summer camps that are looking for young people or parents to volunteer to help with the kids while they attend camp. If you are looking for an opportunity geared more towards outdoor activities like sports or camp, try an internet search for summer camps in your area and contact the directors.
Volunteer at places of worship.Churches, synagogues, or mosques in the area might need volunteers for a myriad of different projects, including after school care and Sunday school. They can also help you find volunteer opportunities with other groups and organizations they serve.
- For example, the United Methodist Church has an online database of volunteer opportunities that you can search and find something local. But, simply driving up to a nearby place of worship and asking about opportunities might be just as effective.
Inquire about opportunities at local service organizations.The Rotary, Lions Club or United Way have many chapters across the US. Try contacting these organizations and inquiring about what volunteer work they might need help with in the near future, and how you might go about becoming involved.
- The Lions Club is a great place to seek different types of volunteering opportunities. Head to their website, find a club near you, and see a calendar of events. They help with everything from serving the community to disaster relief.
Check bulletin boards.Local stores, restaurants, and recreation centers might have bulletin boards advertising for volunteer opportunities in the area. Check these places, or just keep your eye out while you’re out around town for these kinds of advertisements or posts.
- You can also get on the phone and call local youth groups, organizations, and health clubs to see if they might have any suggestions or opportunities for you.
Find a local Red Cross chapter.Use the search feature on their website to locate the chapter closest to you, and follow the procedure for signing up to volunteer. They have a small questionnaire you can fill out that will match you with ideal volunteer opportunities through the organization.\
- Most of the Red Cross’s work is done by volunteers, so contributing to this organization will really have an impact on your local community. If there has been any kind of natural disaster nearby, the Red Cross can connect you with projects and teams helping those affected by it, as well.
Finding Opportunities Online
- Check out the list of existing volunteer initiatives and see if any of them interest you. You might be able to join up with a local group already working on a certain project.
- Type in your area of interest and the city and state you live in for a specific list of volunteer opportunities that match in the website’s database.
Visit VolunteerMatch.org.This site matches willing volunteers with organizations and groups in their area who need help. You will get a list of ideas based on your zip code and the type of work you want to do.
- Through this website, you can send a message directly to the volunteer coordinator from the VolunteerMatch.org website once you find an opportunity you would like to pursue.
Go to Idealist.org.This is a site that people use to find paying jobs in the nonprofit sector, but you can use it to find volunteer opportunities as well. It also has some valuable advice on how to get the most out of your volunteering experience.
- Check out the list of upcoming fundraisers, events, walks, marches and other volunteer opportunities in your area and see which of these fits your needs and your schedule.
- You can also search for internships that are available in your field of interest. An unpaid internship is volunteer work that helps you work towards specific career goals. Many college programs encourage students to seek internships through their course of study, so this is a valuable source for finding those.
Finding Opportunities Based on Your Skills and Interests
Determine whether you work better with other people or on your own.Even if you tend to work better apart from a group, there are still ways for you to volunteer your time and skills. Before looking for volunteer opportunities, decide how much you would like to interact with others while volunteering. This will determine what sort of volunteer opportunities you should pursue.
- If you like groups, you can join one of the efforts through your local United Way or even through your school. If you work better on your own, you can try things like making some fundraising phone calls for a charity, or volunteering for a crisis helpline from home.
Consider the amount of time you are willing to commit.If you are not currently working and you're willing to take on 20 to 30 volunteer hours per week, you might have more opportunities than if you can donate only an hour or 2 every month. On the other hand, if you want something to do just once, or a few times a month, there are still plenty of ways to get involved.
- If you are a student, make sure you take your own personal obligations into consideration when determining what kind of time you can commit to volunteer work. Try to avoid overcommitting yourself, and then having to back out of things last minute.
Evaluate your skills.Think about what you have to offer, both practically and emotionally. By determining what skills you would like to put to use, you can narrow down volunteer opportunities to the ones that would best fit you.
- Don’t focus strictly on “practical” skills you might have, such as your specializations or education. Think about what else you have to offer, including patience, compassion, an ear for listening, a sense of humor, working out problems, and even things like arts and crafts.
- Finding a volunteer opportunity that matches your specific skills will help you and your community get more from the work you do.
Identify what you are passionate about.If there is a specific cause you are interested in, look for opportunities in that field. For example, you might love the arts or animals or helping elderly people or children with disabilities. Maybe you want to volunteer with an organization that has something to do with your college major, or with a cause you have experience with already.
Determine what you would like to get out of the experience.Just like volunteer work can help your community, it can help you as well. The act of volunteering is emotionally rewarding, and can also help you build a strong resume or curriculum vitae when applying to college or graduate school.
- Volunteering is a great way to get a better look at a specific field or organization. You can learn a lot in the process, so you can use volunteering as a way to help you get a better understanding of a certain career path.
- Everyone can benefit from the feeling of their skills, time, and personal qualities being valued and needed by others. Volunteering can offer a sense of personal accomplishment and value.
QuestionWhat if I'm unskilled and bad with people? Most unskilled roles seem to require intense interaction with people in need, which would be uncomfortable for both me and the people I'd be dealing with.Desperately_lookingfora_communityCommunity AnswerPhysical labor is probably your best bet, and can be a very important task. See if you can drive a truck bearing food and medical assistance to areas in crisis. In places hit by hurricanes and other natural disasters, transporting the supplies/assistance to remote areas through places where roads have been decimated is a heroic job. Alternately, you can try volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, although there's usually some amount of light interaction there (people do work together, and there tends to be a picnic or something like that, but there's not a lot of one-on-one conversation).Thanks!
Video: How to find volunteer opportunities
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