Be a volunteer: part 2.
Rather than looking at volunteering as another item on your to-do list, the goal of our Be a Volunteer series is to drill down and figure out how to make volunteering a habit. In part one we talked about the benefits of volunteering and took a personal inventory of our passions and skills. Today’s #DailyRevolution is to answer a few more questions and figure out what your capacity is for volunteering.
There are lots of awesome sites out there that want to help you find a great place to volunteer: volunteermatch.org, idealist.org, or for you New Yorkers, Newyorkcares.org, to name just a few. But sometimes the breadth of opportunities can leave you paralyzed!
Last week we asked and answered three questions to begin to narrow down the wide world of volunteer opportunities: What do you care about? What are you good at? What is missing in your life? These questions will help identify the kind of volunteer work you want to do. Today we’re asking a few more questions to find out what kind of volunteer work you are able to do.
How much free time do you have? Can you give up a few hours on a weekly basis? Or do you have one free Saturday every now and again? Many organizations, especially groups that work directly with high-risk communities like children or those experiencing homelessness or domestic violence, look for people who can make a longer-term commitment (six months to a year) so that you can build trusting relationships with the people you serve. Other groups seek people who can come on an off day to do a big clean up of a community garden, or take a group of kids on a field trip. No matter how much time you have, there are opportunities out there for you.
What are your limitations? Maybe you’re great on the phone but sometimes have social anxiety in situations dealing with new people. Maybe you have kids, so you need a family-friendly opportunity. There may also be financial considerations as some groups may require you to pay for a background check or an in-depth training before you can start. Identifying your own needs before you start will better help you serve others’ needs.
How far can you travel? Do you have a car and love to use it? Your car is an asset for many organizations who have transportation needs (think homebound food delivery). Or do you really need to find some place that doesn’t require you to travel far or even to leave your house There are lots of opportunities to do good from your own couch, whether phone banking for a political campaign or helping to man an abortion fund hotline, or writing letters to prisoners in solitary confinement. Whether local or long-distance, knowing your capacity will help you narrow down the list of what's out there to find what's right for you.
Take some time today to write down the answers to these questions and last weeks’, and hopefully you’ll start to get a better picture of what you want to do, and what you can do. Next week we’ll stop looking inward and figure out how to find out what’s available in your community.
7 Traits of Amazing Volunteers - Forbes