Often, actually too often, I hear my peers tell me that they want to volunteer but don’t know where (or how) to get started. I won’t lie to you…When people tell me that phrase, my inner KB drifts to a land of confusion and skepticism. Why? It’s because I’m wondering if they are really telling me the truth!
I was talking to Luvvie last night at the Heineken with a Heart event and mentioned to her that people give me all of these “reasons” why they aren’t volunteering, instead of simply saying “It’s not a priority in my life.” 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 (hence the blog). But, if you’re not a big volunteer, that’s fine! I am the LAST person to judge. Please trust that!
Now, that I got that off of my chest, I’m going to give a few simple tips for those of you who really do want to get involved with a cause or organization but need a little push or guidance in that area!
1. Start with a cause or activity that means the most to you!
My gateway cause was the 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. Volunteer activities are more than you think.
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.
Hopefully, these tips are helpful! 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. P.S. Did I mention that volunteer experience looks great on resumes? Not that I’m trying to bribe you or anything… 😉