Volunteering opens doors to unforeseen possibilities. It benefits the organization you volunteer with; it benefits the individual volunteer and also benefits society at large. People are especially time-poor these days and wonder how to volunteer more.
Why would you volunteer?
Many non-profit organizations could not function if it wasn’t for the time put in by their band of volunteers. The greatest needs in society seem to be addressed by these organizations that exist simply to help a particular group or section of society. They often receive little in the way of funding and rely almost solely on donations and volunteers to continue their work.
There are many well-documented benefits to the person who volunteers as well. When you are helping someone else, it is almost impossible to think about your own problems. Research has shown that volunteering helps people who suffer from depression and other forms of mental illness. Helping out gives you a buzz, a feeling of deep satisfaction that you are able to help another human being. Volunteering makes you feel good.
Everyone has skills and knowledge that can be shared with others by volunteering. Organizations need all types of skills and you can be certain of finding a group where you can use your skills and knowledge to feel that you are making a difference. Volunteers give back to the society in which they live and it is this giving and sharing that makes for a cohesive community. Volunteers also find that they gain new knowledge and skills while gaining a better understanding of the challenges that affect others.
How can you volunteer more?
Like most things in life during these hectic and fast-paced times, you need to allocate the time to volunteer. Waiting for the time to appear is never going to work. Find time in your schedule when you can arrange a few hours to work with an organization that needs your talents.
Look for volunteering opportunities close to home so that you need less travel time to get there and home again. Maybe you can fit in a few hours before or after work, while you are already out.
Check out opportunities to volunteer online, using your computer. There are now online groups that link volunteers with those who need assistance. Many organizations have websites that explain their purpose and work, so this is a simple way of finding a good match for your volunteering efforts.
Volunteering doesn’t need to be time-consuming; even a couple of hours of your time will be appreciated. Look for opportunities that only require you for short periods of time, even if you help out a few times a week for a couple of hours.
Find volunteering opportunities in areas that you are passionate about or that allow you to do things you love. You will be more likely to stick with your volunteering if you enjoy what you are doing.
How do you find places to volunteer?
Many organizations advertize in local newspapers and this is a great way to find volunteering opportunities close to where you live. Some have retail outlets for their donated goods, so you might make enquiries there as well.
Newspaper reports are another way of using the media to find volunteering opportunities. You might read a report about a certain group that has had large demands on its funds and resources, for example, and see a chance to help out.
Think of areas that you are interested in as a way of finding a way to volunteer more. You might love animals, for instance, so you could contact your local animal shelter and offer to give some time for administrative assistance or to walk the dogs.
Wherever you volunteer your time, you will find that your time is greatly appreciated and you will feel satisfied and happy when you volunteer more.
So, do you volunteer, and if so, how did you find that opportunity? Also, what kind of rewards have you experienced?
I have to admit that I haven’t done as much as I should have lately, although crappy things happening tend to do that. When I do, however, I usually figure out what it is I want to do then just go online and search for opportunities. Sometimes, the ideas are just there if you pay attention. Like, my new thing is wanting to get involved with kids and obesity prevention, and when you watch any NFL games, there are always a few commercials for the Play60 program which is a joint effort between the NFL and United Way. So in that case I went online to the website and found as much info as I could on ways to get involved.
Don’t beat yourself up too much. Many of us have had those feelings of not doing enough at one point or another. We can only do our best remember.
Great goal for volunteering. Preventing obesity in kids is a big deal to me too. I am constantly trying to educate people around me about the little things they can do that will make big changes. I live in Canada so there is no Play 60 program but there are others I would like to get involved with.
The place that we volunteer the most is our local church. It’s easy to find areas where we can be helpful, and they are especially sensitive to the limited time people have available. I love that aspect, and it is a very enjoyable experience overall.
Church communities are awesome at giving back and looking after one another. Just last year in my neighbourhood a church had helped build a community garden which I thought was awesome. More affordable food for everyone.
I am usually asked to volunteer by friends for various things. One of my favorites has been volunteering to improve the energy efficiency of homes for the elderly or other nonprofit buildings. I’ll admit that I’m not usually that excited about the opportunity, but it’s always been more rewarding than I imagined it would be. It’s a great feeling!
Haven’t heard of that before. Being a green thumb it makes me tickle pink to hear about it though; energy efficient seniors- that’s awesome.
It is amazing how much better things can turn out than what you expect hey. There are many times in my life I too have been surprised.
I don’t do enough at all, hopefully I will start.
Even little things matter remember.
I volunteer for a local civil rights organization and try to donate 10% of my income every year(didn’t make it there last year).
That is awesome. I love civil rights stuff. It gets me all fired up. Thanks for helping out.
I definitely make sure to fit in giving back/volunteering despite my insane schedule. Sometimes, it’s just a random act of kindness; others it’s a full-blown day of giving my time. I usually find options online, then I pare down by researching the time commitments, etc.
Volunteering has so many wonderful benefits that I’m always amazed when I find people who don’t contribute in ANY way!
I think it is great having variety like you do. That keeps things interesting. Plus you can have the personal satisfaction of knowing you are helping out in numerous different ways. I too do similar to you. Sometimes it is a random thing and other times I spend weeks helping out a project.
I love to help out others but personally I find that when I volunteer, the organization has too many volunteers and I am useless and not effective. This has happened to often and it makes each experience less rewarding. This happens at other events I attend and I was wondering if anyone else notices this?
I have seen that happen sometimes too. This happens when there is a lack of volunteer organization. Typically this will happen with smaller organizations who have limited resources to hire a coordinator. Don’t sweat it too much though. Even if you think you aren’t doing much, chances are you are.
One thing I do is I look at the job page of places I would like to work and see if they are also looking for volunteers. This way I can help out in a niche I have a passion for.
I used to volunteer by playing music at Sunday mornings at a church, but the time commitment got to be too much for me. I haven’t done a lot of volunteering for the last couple years, but I would like to get involved again.
I love volunteer musicians. We have them at the cancer centre I work at and patients and staff love it. Don’t worry. Sometimes life gets in the way and we need to stop for a bit. The key is thought to make it a priority to get back at it.
Volunteering is good but volunteers need to be treated properly. My old history teacher (ex military chap) used to say “One volunteer is worth ten pressed men” (it was a boys’ school!) and he was right.
I agree. I have seen volunteers treated badly and not given the respect the deserve which is not right. I guess some people are just jerks.
I put volunteering on my 2012 goals. Last night a volunteer position fell in my lap. I am investigating it to see if I should pursue it.
The starts answered your call Krant. Glad to hear you are making volunteering a priority. I hope this opportunity works out for you.
I don’t do enough, but my wife does plenty at our church. So, our household is doing decent.
This would be a good way to get out of the house and associate it with an activity.
Glad to hear your wife is helping out.
Yes, associating volunteering with an activity works great. I used to coach new runners at a run club and I loved it. I met so many great people and I loved helping them reach their fitness goals.
There is never a shortage of volunteer places… I remember as a child my parents taking me to old folk homes to visit those that couldn’t get out and help them with little tasks. It seems there’s always opportunities to help others if we’re looking for them.
Great point. Yes there are. In fact, many volunteer opportunities aren’t even posted. They are informal and are spread through word of mouth.
You make a great point about scheduling volunteer activities instead of waiting for the perfect moment. The perfect moment is rarely going to happen. I have two kids in high school right now. There are so many clubs at the school and most of them have volunteer activities that they are sponsoring. A quick check of your local high school’s website can often provide many volunteer opportunities.
It seems like schools are doing more these days which I think is great.
And yes, there is never a perfect moment and that goes for everything in our lives. We have to do something if we want to do it and make it work somehow. There will always be something that isn’t ideal we have to work around.
Thanks for the volunteering tips. Great point about volunteers also getting something out of the experience, a win-win!
I have learned a ton from volunteering. It has been not only rewarding but I have also gained a lot of new skills.
I don’t think I’ve ever volunteered my time before. Stuff and money, yeah, but not time. These are great reminders that just a little bit of my time could make a difference somehow. 🙂
It really is amazing how much the giving of time can make a difference. What I really like is that anyone can give time, no matter what your financial situation.