So you're starting to think about getting involved in your community. Congrats! One of the best ways to get involved in your community is to volunteer. The task of volunteering can be overwhelming at times and sometimes people quit before they even get started because they don’t know where to begin. Here are the top three things to keep in mind as you begin to connect to your community and the world around you.
1. Have a Plan
As with all good intentions, having a plan is a sure-fire way to get off to a good start! Here are a few different questions to ask yourself as you look for a place to get involved:
“What am I passionate about?”
This is the time to figure out what you care about and to start looking for missions and organizations that match your passions. Figuring out what your passions are is a great way to figure out which organizations you want to not only give your time to, but also your charitable giving.
“What does my dream world look like?”
Do a little research and see what local, state, national, and even international groups are helping to achieve a dream of yours. Maybe you want all dogs to have a forever home—there are a lot of different organizations that work to place dogs in permanent homes on all levels. Look at all organizations everything from your local no-kill shelter to the National Humane Society. Determine which groups are most effectively getting the world to a place you dream of.
“What are my interests?”
Narrow your interests and skills before you go to an organization. What do you want to do to help the organization? What skills do you have to offer? Make sure you know what you want to do to help the organization and what you have to offer. Often, people believe they should volunteer a skill set that they do regularly and are good at, but you can also volunteer a skill that you exercising, but don’t often have time for. This gives you an opportunity to shine, and ensure you don’t get burnt out while you are volunteering!
2. Find Your Perfect Fit
After you have narrowed your interests and determined what kind of organization you want to volunteer with, it’s time to find your perfect match! Take the time to search the internet for organizations in your area or call your local United Way chapter to get a sense of who they partner with. If you are looking for a larger database to pull from, take a look at idealist.org and volunteermatch.org. As you search for a fit, start small in the time you give. Make sure to test the waters at multiple organizations and see what fits you the best!
3. Know What to Expect
Don’t forget to think of yourself when you’re volunteering! Make sure that as you test out organizations they are as interested in you as you are in them. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship. Make sure that the work you are doing is appreciated. We all know that when you're volunteering, it isn't for the glory, but it’s still important to be appreciated.