Volunteering is important valuable activity not only because it allows you to follow your interests and passions while benefiting others, but for a whole list of other reasons. A Harvard Medical School report claims that volunteering can increase your happiness by as much as 12%. It also helps you improve your social skills, builds connections with people from different parts of your community, increases your self-confidence while trying new tasks, and builds your capacity for compassion, which is essential for building relationships in your personal life or your career. It also creates an opportunity for you to showcase your strengths while developing new ones.
Volunteering can also help you in your career decision and development. Helping others allows you to try out different roles or even possible occupations. It can give you an insight into what you really enjoy doing while giving you a sense of contribution. It also helps you develop your strengths and talents while gaining real world experience to supplement your education. In some cases, volunteering can increase your visibility in the community and possibly attract career opportunities, recommendations, or future employers. So get out there and volunteer!
Step 1: Identify your reasons for volunteering
I want to use this giving back opportunity to: (identify all that apply)
- Showcase a strength
- Develop a new skill
- Make new connections
- Gain visibility in the community
- Consider a possible career path
- Align my life with my values
- Engage my passions
- Help attain my goals
- Gain Fulfillment
Step 2: Clarify your purpose
Being clear about what you seek in a volunteer activity will help you articulate your value to an organization and help guide you to the right opportunity.
- Which of my strengths would I like to showcase or what skill would I like to build?
- Who are the people I would like to work alongside? What volunteer projects do they support?
- What community projects most appeal to me and why?
- What volunteer activities might align with a career path that interests me?
- Which cause(s) might connect with my key values?
- What ignites my passions? What cause or organization might connect with those passions?
- What might move me toward my vision for the future?
Step 3: Investigate your volunteer opportunities
- Check the websites below and others you may find for opportunities. Consider the causes, needs, skills and locations that align with the values, purpose, passions, and goals you just articulated.
- Call or visit the organizations that sound like the best fit.
- Volunteer for a day, a week or a project to test the fit with the volunteer opportunity. Even if it doesn’t work out for you, others will have benefitted from your service, and it will get you one step closer to clarifying what you want to do.
Organizations to consider:
How to use the site
Their mission is to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world.
Use their “find a volunteer opportunity” feature to get suggestions based on specific areas of interest or locations.
This site includes links to major federal and national volunteer programs and volunteer clearinghouses.
Browse local volunteer opportunities by state to see what might be a good fit for you.
This site matches individuals who want to volunteer their skills with nonprofits that need help with specific project tasks.
Register your skills and interests to find a nonprofit organization that is looking for your skill set or just browse the list of projects needing assistance.
Their mission is to bring good people and good causes together.
You can find local and virtual volunteer opportunities by searching by cause and/or by location.
The Entertainment Industry Foundation has mobilized the entertainment community to raise awareness of key causes for which volunteers are needed most.
Search for opportunities by zip code and by cause.
This organization helps individuals find ways to participate in U.S. recovery and renewal by serving in our communities.
Enter your interest and location to find existing national and community service projects that might be of interest to you. You can also access their toolkit to start a “do it yourself” project.
Go Abroad is one of the leading international education and experiential travel resources for opportunities across the globe.
Explore opportunities abroad by searching by country, cause, and duration, or fill out a profile to help the organization identify program matches for you based on your interests and strengths.
Habitat for Humanity’s vision is to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Explore local to international volunteer opportunities from swinging a hammer to office work to disaster preparedness. You can volunteer on your own or as part of a team.
Their mission is to enable crowd funding for causes, with visibility through A&E TV network’s Project Start Up. The site offers “Success School” for building better projects and businesses.
Enter your project information, set funding goals and fundraising timeframe, and use the Success School to support you along the way.
Step 4: Get started! Create your volunteer profile using the table below and share it with the organizations you identified.