Four Ways to Start Volunteering Today

Living & Giving

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.

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Jessica
    May 25, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Wow – thanks for mentioning our affiliates – Hands On Atlanta, New York Cares & Chicago Cares! I noticed on Twitter that you’re coming to NCVS in NY in June! That’s great! Are you going to live blog any of it?

    Would you be interested in writing a guest post for the national blog abut why you’re excited about the conference?

    Best,
    Jessica

  • Reply
    Katie
    April 8, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Hey KB,

    We (Xkwizit Productions) sponsor monthly Bid Whist Tournaments/Game Nights and donate a portion of the proceeds to (preferably) local charities on the south side of Chicago and in the southern suburbs. Our latest was for the Chicago Southside Autism Support Group. We’re looking for local charities or local chapters of larger charities we can partner with to raise funds. If you have any suggestions, we’d really appreciate your help/comments/input.

    Thanks for all you’re doing.

  • Reply
    giaparker
    March 27, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    I feel you. I’m totally guilty of such, but not anymore! A new day.

  • Reply
    thefabulousgiver
    March 27, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Haha…”Plain ol’ bumminess”

    But, I hear you! College was my volunteer hiatus (other than some special events), so I know the feeling. If it’s what people are really looking to do, then they’ll come around to it.

    P.S. I like the title of volunteer motivator 🙂

  • Reply
    Luvvie
    March 26, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Yeah like I was saying last night, it’s hard getting started with volunteering not because from a lack of resources or opportunities but from the lack of initiative to go out there and actually put in time. I know that’s the main reason I haven’t volunteered. No excuse. Just plain ol’ bumminess. But it always bugs me that I don’t so I need to get on my Ps and Qs.

    I don’t consider you the volunteer police, but the volunteer motivator 😀

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