|Ten tips for a wise volunteering choice|
Whether you want to volunteer on a once off or on a regular basis, there is an organisation who likely needs your help. If you already know what you'd like to do, you can contact us directly to check what opportunities are available.
If you're not sure what you'd like to do and would like to know more about volunteering without making any committment, the information below is a good place to start.
1. Research the causes or issues important to you.
Look for a group that deals with issues about which you feel strongly. You might already be giving money to one of these organisations or you might know of a organisation locally you'd like to get involved with.
If you enjoy outdoor work, have a knack for teaching, or just enjoy interacting with people, you may want to look for volunteer work which would incorporate these aspects of your personality. Many positions require a volunteer who has previous familiarity with certain equipment, such as computers or who possesses certain skills, such as ability in athletics or communications. For one of these positions you might decide to do something comparable to what you do on the job during your work day,or something that you already enjoy as a hobby. This sort of position allows you to jump right into the work without having to take training to prepare for the assignment.
3. Consider what organisations need.
It's usual to think that an organisation needs volunteers to do the more obvious jobs associated with their work, for example the local under 10's football team needs a coach. But they may also need drivers or someone to do their typing.
4. Would you like to learn something new?
Perhaps you would like to move into areas that will provide you with something new. Then seek a volunteer opportunity involving training in an unfamiliar skill. Many organisations seek out people who are willing to learn, especially if the needs they serve are specialised or unique. Many nonprofits have a demonstrated need but few volunteers skilled in what it takes to fill that need. Remember though that such work might require much more of an effort or a time commitment for training before the actual volunteer assignment begins. Make sure you are willing to commit to the necessary responsibilities.
Make sure the volunteer hours you want to give fit into your lifestyle. Think about what time committment fits in best with your other activities, for example would doing odd days here and there suit better than a weekly commiottment for the next year? If you are unsure about your availability, or want to see how the work suits you before making an extensive commitment, see if the organisation will start you out on a limited number of hours until you get the feel of things.
While most organisations are eager to find volunteer help, they have to be careful when accepting the skills you offer. If you contact an organisation with an offer to donate your time, you may be asked to come in for an interview, fill out a volunteer application, describe your qualifications and your background just as you would at an interview for a paying job. It is in the organisations interest to make certain you have the skills they need, that you are truly committed to doing the work, and that your interests match theirs. Furthermore, in volunteer work involving children or other at-risk populations, there are legal ramifications for the organisation to consider and possibly Garda clearance which can take some months to complete.
Many community groups which are looking for volunteers may not have occurred to you. Most of us know that charity shops, sports clubs, youth clubs and churches involve volunteers for a great deal of their work, but here are some volunteer opportunities which may not have crossed your mind such as:
day care centers, community theatres, mountaineer and sea rescue, animal shelter, retirement centres and homes for the elderly, meals on wheels, museums and galleries, community choirs, bands and orchestras, afterschool programmes, hospitals, literacy and basic education groups
Yes, there is such a thing! If you have computer access and the necessary skills, some organisations now offer the opportunity to do volunteer work over the computer. This might take the form of giving free legal advice, typing a college term paper for a person with a disability, or simply keeping in contact with a shut-in who has e-mail. This sort of volunteering might be well-suited to you if you have limited time, no transportation, or a physical disability which precludes you from getting about freely. Virtual volunteering can also be a way for you to give time if you simply enjoy computers and want to employ your computer skills in your volunteer work.
We all tend to think more of those in need during the holidays, but volunteering is welcome and necessary all year.