Volunteering 101: Giving Back to the Community
If you are looking for ways to make lasting, positive changes in your community volunteer work is a great place to start!
In moments when the world feels overwhelming, volunteering is a great way to feed that part of our humanity that wants to work together, contribute and lift up the people around us. We live in a time where it can be tricky to build authentic relationships with others. Through volunteer work, you get a chance to get to know the people in your community, serve others and to build strong friendships by working together while making a positive impact
Carving out time to do volunteer work can be tricky, so be sure to be intentional with your time. Look inside your Passion Planner to find where you have a free hour or two every week and dedicate that time to serving others. A great volunteer experience is something that you’re doing because you love it, and it does as much for you as it does for others. That will keep you coming back month after month, year after year, while slowly but surely making a difference.
Here are some tips if you are new to volunteer work or just looking for a way to get more involved. So add Acts of Service to “This Week's Focus” in your weekly layout and let’s get started!
How to Start Volunteering
We’ve all done volunteer projects that are tedious and exhausting. Finding a fulfilling volunteer experience will mean you are more likely to commit to it on a regular basis, do it well and bring your authentic self to the table, so be sure it lines up with your interests! Here are three places to start.
The Career Volunteer
A natural place to start can be offering up the professional skills you have developed in your career. This could look like lawyers offering pro bono services, writers editing resumes and cover letters, students tutoring their younger peers or bakers contributing to a bake sale.
Another way to start volunteering through work is to connect with people who are trying to start up their career in your field. This can look like mentorship programs, speaking on conference panels or connecting with your college or high school’s alumni programs.
Finally, do a Google search of organizations associated with your career path that focus on giving back to the community. Volunteering with your professional peers can be a great way to network with them while contributing to the community you live and work in.
The Curious Volunteer
Another great place to start can be diving into a hobby or skill you want to learn more about!
Use volunteering to develop professional expertise you aren’t currently developing in your day job. If you want to get better at social media, offer to help run the social media account for a nonprofit you like. Learn how to do that well, and then add that skill to your resume.
You can also learn random new skills through volunteer work. Maybe you’re interested in starting a compost bin but know nothing about it. Volunteer at a farm or compost hub to have your questions answered!
Volunteering can also expand your worldview and bring some diversity into your life. If you’re only hanging out with people your age, try volunteering at a senior center. If you don’t have many young people in your life, try volunteering at your local public library to read to children. If you don’t know many LGBTQIA+ folx, volunteer with your local LGBTQ center or a national institution like the Trevor Project. Be mindful that when you’re in a new space, you are there to learn, not to lead. Follow the leadership of these organizations and learn what you can do to help them achieve their own goals.
The Passionate Volunteer
Anything in this life you are remotely passionate about can exist in your community. If you’re passionate about sports, you can be a volunteer coach at a rec center. If you’re passionate about arts and crafts you can teach classes at a local community center. You’ve probably already been using your Passion Roadmap to center your life around these things that bring you joy. Now it’s time to figure out how to bring that passion and joy to those around you!
Ways To Give Back
Still not sure how to start? Try some one offs. Sign up for a shift at a local food bank. Work an annual event like Relay for Life or Aids Walk. Sign up to deliver holiday meals to folx in need. If you’re looking for other ways to give back, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Empower your community using Passion Planner
- Read to children at your public library
- Become a Big Brother or Sister
- Help your classmates register to vote
- Walk dogs and play with cats at a local animal shelter
- Deliver meals to seniors
- Create hygiene kits for the unhoused
- Give patients a ride to cancer treatments
- Become a docent at a local museum or art gallery
- Volunteer as farmhand through WWOOF
- Knit a blanket for NICU or hospice patients
- Donate blood to those in need
- Host a clothing, food or toy drive with your coworkers
- Volunteer to coach a local youth sports team
- Give a veteran a ride to an appointment
- Become a court appointed advocate for vulnerable children
- Be a volunteer usher for a local theater or concert hall
- Host a park or beach clean up to help clear litter and debris
- Apply to opportunities through AmeriCorps, Idealist or volunteermatch.org
At the end of the day, volunteering can be easy and enjoyable. It can be something you love to do and it can be something that brings purpose to your life when things get tough. So get out there and start getting to know your community! Find the holes that need filling and do your part to build a better world!