Just Volunteer. Period.

26 03 2009

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… 😉

-kb

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4 responses

26 03 2009
Luvvie

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 😀

27 03 2009
thefabulousgiver

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 🙂

27 03 2009
giaparker

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

8 04 2009
Katie

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.

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