Taking up a volunteering position can be incredibly rewarding and provide an excellent opportunity to develop key skills, meet new people and gain valuable workplace experience.
Finding a volunteering opportunity should start with a little introspection; for the experience to be truly valuable it should be well-matched to your interests and skillset and fit in with your, perhaps already busy, schedule. So ask yourself what kind of work you’d like to do. Is there any cause you’re particularly passionate about? Also think about the skills you can bring and the ones you want to develop and consider the time you have to spend and how you will support yourself financially.
Once you have a clear sense of the types of things you would be interested in it’s time to start searching for opportunities. Here’s where you might want to look:
It’s possible that you already know people who undertake some form of voluntary work. Ask your friends and family about any voluntary work they may have done and how they found out about it. Asking your online network for ideas and experiences may also be useful.
Your local volunteer centre
Find out if there is a volunteer centre in your local area and pop in to have a chat with them. They’ll have a good knowledge of opportunities available locally and may be able to find a good match for you based on your skills and interests. Also check out your local councils’ website or social media pages as they will usually provide information about opportunities near you.
You could just use Google to find opportunities, but there are websites out there specifically designed to help you find volunteering opportunities near you such as Volunteering Matters and Do-it in the UK, Volunteering Australia or the National and Community Service website in the USA. These will usually allow you to browse opportunities based on your place of residence, while you may also be able to customise your search to take into account your availability, the type of volunteering work you would like to do and your skillset.
If you have your sights set on volunteering for a particular organisation, check out their website to view their latest opportunities. If you can’t see anything that suits you, there’s no harm in reaching out to them anyway and having a chat to see if, how and when you could offer them your services.
And don’t forget social media either. Companies, industry bodies and news websites will often share volunteering opportunities on their social media pages (Facebook, Twitter etc.) so make sure you give those you’re interested in a follow. You could also try signing up to Nextdoor, which allows you to connect with people within your neighbourhood, to find out about opportunities nearby.
Your Student Union
If you’re a student, your student union can be a great place to start when looking for volunteering opportunities. They’ll often organise and arrange voluntary opportunities for students through their clubs and societies as well as external partnerships and arrangements.
Whether it’s helping out at your local animal shelter, taking part in the organisation of a festival or fundraising for a charity; the opportunities to volunteer are endless and there is definitely something out there for you. So do some thinking about what you want and use the tools above to find your next volunteering project.