Maximize Your Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer opportunities are all about helping people, but when we decide to give, the first step is often to think of ourselves. What is my availability? What is my budget? What are my skills? What can I do?

These are important things to consider when you’re looking for the best way to give, but even more important is another set of questions. These questions are less about you and more about the people you’re trying to help. How can I make the biggest difference? Who needs help the most? Where is the largest need?

Here are some steps that you can take to find ways for your service to do the most good possible.

Make Contact

If there’s an organization that you have in mind, talk to them and ask what they need most. It may be volunteers, it may be money, it may be donations, or it may be something else entirely. See if they have a mailing list so you can stay on top of their needs from week to week or month to month.

Volunteer Regularly

Organizations that use volunteers spend lots of time and resources training their volunteers and tend to see a high turnover rate. If you can stay with an organization and learn the ins and outs of what they do, your skills and time become even more valuable than the standard volunteer.

Find Your Passion

When you start looking for volunteer opportunities, it can seem like every one of them has a need that you can’t deny. It’s okay to choose the things that mean the most to you, though. It’ll make your service more meaningful for you and make it easier for you to give more of yourself. Once you’ve narrowed down the opportunities, research the relevant organizations in your area.

Think Big

Some of the places with the greatest needs are thousands of miles away, but with a little research, you can find organizations that provide water, medical care, food, shelter, and more to places suffering from war, famine, and poverty. It’s best to check these organizations with a site such as Charity Navigator to make sure that they’re reputable.

Think Small

Making an impact can mean working on a global scale, or it can mean helping one person in a significant way. Just because you’re focusing on one person doesn’t make your help any less significant. Consider local organizations that can connect you to specific people in your area. Being able to help with real change in someone’s life can come in many ways: mentoring a child, helping elderly people who live alone, providing stability and help for the disabled, and assisting homeless families. Having someone to count on can make a huge difference to someone who’s struggling.

When you shift the focus on volunteer opportunities to giving the most help, instead of making it the most convenient for you, you’ll have the added benefit of finding a service that means that much more to you.


Image source: Flickr