Getting started with giving back
When you’re inspired to give back but don’t know where to start, try these first steps
At a Glance: Ready to start giving back? Factor in your personal and professional interests, and actively search for organizations looking for volunteers.
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Motivated to volunteer in your community but don’t know where to start? There are so many good causes it can be overwhelming. How can you find the best ways to share your time and talents with the world around you?
Some things to consider:
- What organizations in your community need help?
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you enjoy doing? Working with people one-on-one or using your hands?
- What kind of career do you have or want? Is there volunteer work that might introduce you to that field or give you different experiences within it?
- What people or places in your community are most important to you?
There are many ways to find the right organization or cause where you can make a difference. Going online is an excellent place to start. Numerous web sites have tools for potential volunteers to search by location, cause, time of day or whether an opportunity is family friendly or works for a group.
In just a few clicks you’ll have a whole list of organizations that are searching for volunteers. For starters, you can browse opportunities on VolunteerMatch, Create The Good, United Way or Points of Light. Many list information about organizations and needs right in your community, and they’ll also let you search by your interest areas.
There are even places to find opportunities to use your professional skills. Try Catchafire, a website that connects professional volunteers with nonprofits. Your work helps organizations increase their capacity to do even more good. Similar to the other volunteer match websites, Catchafire lists postings for nonprofits’ needs for graphic design, strategy, social media work and more. Professionals search for a good match, volunteer their services, interview for the job and complete the requested task.
If you’re not finding the right match or the sites just don’t cover your community, consider reaching out to places that have been important in your life. Schools, colleges and universities, libraries, community centers, hospitals, parks or natural areas, museums and faith institutions are all great options to consider.
Most of these places would be thrilled to have your helping hands do all manner of jobs. And if they don’t need volunteers right then, perhaps they have information on organizations that do need assistance.
It’s important to find the right cause and setting that meet your community service goals. When the fit is right, you’ll want to keep coming back and sharing your time and talents, making your corner of the world a better place.