Identify the issues that you feel strongly about, search for an organisation that works for that cause.
Do you have some special skills or interests? For instance you might enjoy working with the elderly or teaching young school children? You can look for volunteer work that incorporates your hobbies, interests, and special skills. Some agencies ask that their volunteers have experience with certain equipment, such as computers, or for their volunteers to possess specific skills. For one of these volunteer positions, you may decide to do something similar to what you have done for past jobs, or something that you already enjoy as a hobby. If you are able to identify a skill that you have or would like to develop, this is a great way to search for a community involvement opportunity.
If you are interested in developing a new skill or gaining practical experience in a certain field, consider serving at a community-based organisation that will allow you to do just that. If you want to brush up on your writing skills, you can work with an organization to produce their next newsletter or apply for grant funding. If you are interested in marketing, you can assist a community organisation with their marketing campaign and upcoming events. If you are worried that you don’t have the skills that an organisation is looking for, never fear as many organisations are happy to train those that are willing to learn. However, such training will often require a time commitment.
We suggest that you search for opportunities that will help you achieve your career and/or life goals. If you hope to begin your own non-profit organisation, gain some practical experience by volunteering with a not-for-profit organisation. By working in such a setting, you can better understand how the non-profit world works.
Be sure that the hours that you want to give will fit into your life. You’ll need to assess how much time you can give to an organisation. That way, you will not cause yourself undue stress because you cannot handle the added time commitment. If you are not sure about your free time, or if you want to see how the work fits your lifestyle, you can ask the organisation to start you on a limited schedule. It is better to begin your community experience slowly than to commit yourself to a schedule that you cannot handle.
Most of our community-based organisations are eager to find volunteers. However, they must be careful when accepting volunteers. You may be asked to come in for an interview, complete an application, describe your interests and qualifications – just as if you were interviewing for a paid position as charities will want to be sure that you have the skills needed, and that you are truly committed to doing the work. For volunteer work involving children and or vulnerable adults you will be asked to undertake a DBS check. To find out more about DBS checks, please click here.
There are numerous volunteer opportunities that are suitable for groups, even for parents and children to do together. When a group volunteers to work for an agency, the experience can bring them closer together, teach the value of giving of one’s time and effort, introduce group members to skills and experiences they have never encountered, and give the entire group a fabulous shared experience
If you have reliable computer access and certain required skills, some organisations now offer the opportunity to complete volunteer work over the computer. This might take the form of editing a newsletter, creating a website. If you have limited time, no transportation, or a physical disability that inhibits you from getting around freely, virtual volunteering could be a perfect fit for you. This is also a way for you to give your time if you enjoy computers and want to employ your computer skills in your volunteer work.
Many community-based organisations are looking for volunteers, and some may not have crossed your mind. Most people know about opportunities to serve at food banks, charity shops. But, there are many more opportunities that you may not have considered so be prepared to try new experiences.
Bring your sense of humour, your enthusiasm, and your skills to your volunteer work. These gifts of yours will be greatly appreciated by community-based organisations and the populations they serve.