Often, actually too often, my peers ask me, “How do I start volunteering?” Then, the question is usually followed by all of the reasons why they aren’t actively involved with the community or giving back. I get it, but I wish that people would just say, “It’s not a priority right now.” Guys, the truth is perfectly acceptable for one main reason…
I am NOT the volunteer police!!!! I never ask people about their volunteer committments, nor do I talk about mine in a bragging sense. If you ask me what I’m doing this weekend or tomorrow, there may be a volunteer activity on there because that’s my passion . But, if you’re not a big volunteer, that’s fine! I am the LAST person to judge. Trust.
However, we could all use a little push in the right direction. If you are truly looking for a cause or organization to get involved with, here are some simple tips to get you going.
1. Start with a cause or activity that means the most to you.
My gateway cause was multiple sclerosis because I have a personal connection. Think about what means the most to you. Love to garden? Look into helping out at a local greenhouse. Love to read? Maybe you spend an hour every week or so reading at a nursing home. Love watching sports? Shoot hoops with teenagers. Make sense?
2. Expand your definition of volunteering.
Many volunteer opportunities are outside the box of traditional office-based or event-specific duties. Business professional? You can volunteer on pro-bono marketing and strategy projects with The Taproot Foundation. Former athlete/coach? You can volunteer to be a referee for community youth leagues.
3. Let the Internet be your guide.
With a few key-strokes and a mouse click, you can discover websites looking for helping hands. National sites include Idealist.org, VolunteerMatch.org, or USAService.org.On a local level, many cities have organizations which promote volunteer opportunities on a local level. Some sites to check out are ChicagoCares.org, DC-Cares.org, NYCares.org, or HandsonAtlanta.org.
4. Just ask.
If you got through tips 1-3 and still feel like you don’t know how to get started, then you need to just start asking people. Ask your employer if there is a preferred charity. Ask your pastor/priest if they’ve heard of any community organizations looking for help. Ask your friends where they volunteer and offer to come along.
I want to see more young adults out there volunteering. It’s such a great opportunity to enhance the lives of others and further the purpose of an organization.
If these tips were helpful, let me know! Also, share any tips that you have in the comments below.