Finding a volunteer opportunity is an enriching experience for anyone. Professionals bolster their networks and reputations by volunteering and supporting various charities and causes. Job seekers can also use volunteer opportunities to show a constant strong work ethic when finding a job is difficult. In addition, volunteering is a requirement for many students seeking enrollment in a four-year degree program.
Volunteer work is a great way to develop a skill set, learn about career choices, increase social and professional networks, and, in many cases, get exercise. It also has the added bonus of increasing self-esteem by knowing how much the work you do can help others.
Helping others can also help you live longer. Giving back to your community reduces the effects of depression and provides fulfillment when done on a regular basis. Donating time for a worthy cause activates the reward centers in the brain and provides an overall health boost. Balance is key, however, when it comes to reaping the health benefits of volunteering. Overextending yourself could lead to burnout, which is bad for your health and your community.
After you have decided you want to pursue volunteer work, determining what kind of volunteer work is the next step. Below is a list of different types of volunteer work to start your exploration:
- Hospitals recruit volunteers to sit with patients and be part of hospital-wide activities.
- Volunteering with schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, or tutoring programs can help provide after school educational enrichment for young people.
- Most humane societies would love volunteers to help care for the animals and to aid in marketing efforts.
- Volunteers at nursing and assisted living homes provide entertainment and support for the elderly.
- Local environmental initiatives use volunteer work to clean and raise awareness.
- Routine soup kitchens and food drives always need extra hands.
There is a volunteer outlet for almost anything a person is passionate about. Some volunteer activities only require a short-term commitment of a day or a weekend. Others are available for ongoing activities and may become part of a regular schedule.
Many sites online provide fantastic opportunities and ideas about finding volunteer work. Social media is a great place to look for nearby ways to get involved. The local chamber of commerce is also useful and can direct you to specific clubs and organizations that may need help in the community. In addition, churches almost always offer volunteer work. Habitat for Humanity is available in many cities around the country and is a great way to volunteer small amounts of time that add up in a big way.
For other ideas on finding volunteer work, try HandsOn Central Ohio. The organization connects individuals with organizations based on personal interest. Opportunityknocks.org houses searchable lists of volunteer and work opportunities with nonprofit and volunteer organizations in your area. Idealist.org contains resources for volunteer seekers and a searchable database for local opportunities. Finally, VolunteerMatch takes information about what volunteers care about and matches them with organizations and opportunities that fit all over the country.