Be a volunteer: Part 3.
As we come to the end of our year of daily action, we’re looking for ways to build giving back into our lives for the long term — not just by speaking out on big national issues, but by finding ways to support our immediate communities. After all, all politics is local. For the past few weeks you’ve looked inward and answered a series of questions to figure out what kind of volunteer work you want to do, and what kind of volunteer work you’re able to do. Today’s #DailyRevolution is settle in with your Sunday coffee (or whiskey? No judgement!) and spend some time researching the right volunteer spot for you.
Finding that perfect volunteer spot isn’t unlike finding a new job, and we all know how brutal the job hunt can be. But don’t despair — there are lots of awesome sites out there that want to help you find a great place to volunteer. Start with volunteermatch.org, idealist.org, or for you New Yorkers, Newyorkcares.org — to name just a few. These kinds of sites often take some navigating, but your personal volunteer inventory should help you narrow down what you’re looking for. Volunteer Match lets you search for both local and virtual opportunities, and filter your search by cause areas, from seniors to health & wellness, and much more.
Are you the kind of person who needs the reviews? All of the reviews? Many local papers put out semi-regular lists on the best-rated places to volunteer in your city. New Yorkers: Check out Time Out New York’s Where to Volunteer, or CBS News’ Best Places to Volunteer in NYC; in Washington, D.C., find the top-ranked Place to Volunteer in City Paper’s annual ‘Best of’ issue, or check out The Washington Post’s Top 25 list. Out in L.A.? L.A. Weekly has a top ten list, and Thrillist’s list of where to volunteer around the city promises to help save the world. And don’t forget the OG review app! Yes, we’re talking about Yelp, which has both the worst sushi spots and the best places to volunteer within blocks of where you’re standing.
And don’t be afraid to think outside the box! If you find a place that does incredible work that speaks to you, but their posted needs aren’t quite what you’re looking for, give them a call or shoot them an email. Often non-profit organizations need more help than they advertise, and there may be a chance for you to do some work outside of their featured opportunities.
Want to help, but don’t necessarily want to get your hands dirty (figuratively or literally, as the case may be)? Urge your friends to open their wallets or find you on Venmo, and host an informal fundraiser for an organization you care about at your home or fav happy-hour spot. Or use an online crowdfunder or Facebook’s new fundraising tool — but take in mind that Zuckerberg and Co. take a 5% cut.
Last but not least, ask around! Often organizations looking to bring in new people will host get-to-know-you events or let current volunteers bring a friend to check it out for a day without making a full commitment. Post on social media to find out what your community is up to, and ask your friends if they do any cool work in your area.
Remember, no matter what you care about or like to do, there is an opportunity out there for you. Take a little time today to make a big impact in the future.