Volunteering can be incredibly rewarding. If it’s something you’re thinking about getting involved in, there are thousands of charities in the UK to choose from, as well as numerous organisations that rely on donated time to run efficiently. So, how do you choose a volunteering opportunity that’s right for you?
Whether you want to volunteer at one-off events that fit around work or make a bigger commitment as you enter retirement, volunteering has plenty of benefits. As well as the feel-good factor of helping a good cause, it can be an excellent way to meet new people, develop skills and enhance your CV. But with so many different opportunities, it can be difficult to find a position that’s right for you. Diving into why you want to volunteer and what you hope to get from it with the seven questions below can give you direction.
1. What causes are you passionate about?
Thinking about the causes you’re interested in supporting with your time is a great place to start. Choosing something close to your heart means your passion and efforts have an even bigger impact. There are probably more than a couple of areas that you’re interested in, and some may be deeply personal to you. From working closely with animal charities to selecting an organisation that’s pioneering treatments for a disease that has affected your family, there are numerous options. The diversity of the charity sector means you can choose to back a cause that you’re passionate about.
2. What are you interested in doing?
Within a single charity or organisation, there’s likely to be more than a few roles they hope to fill with volunteers. As a result, taking some time to consider what you’d like to do in a volunteer role can help. For example, a charity that’s dedicated to providing services for young people may need volunteers to run a shop to raise funds, complete admin tasks and work directly with children.
3. What commitment can you make to a charity?
How much of your time do you want to commit to volunteering? Do you want to volunteer on a one-off basis or regularly? Whatever free time you have to donate, there are likely to be options in your area. Events in your local community, for instance, may require just a few hours of your time as a one-off to ensure they’re accessible for all. On the other hand, charities will be grateful to those that can offer support on a long-term basis. It’s important to factor in other commitments you may have here and be realistic with the amount of time you’ll be able to offer.
4. How can your skills add to an organisation?
Having thought about the type of charity and role you’d like to offer support in, it’s worth assessing how your skills can enhance this further. This includes both soft skills, such as customer service and networking, as well as hard skills or technical knowledge. Thinking about what your experience and skill set can bring to a charity can mean your donated time can have a far greater impact. You may also be able to bring invaluable connections too, helping the organisation expand its work and reach a greater audience.
5. Are there any new skills you want to develop?
On top of what you can bring to an organisation, you may also want to develop your own skills. Whether there’s something you’ve wanted to try for a while or you’re hoping to develop skills that will boost your career progression, there are usually multiple opportunities. Taking the lead on a charity project could, for example, help demonstrate leadership skills when you’re seeking a promotion. Learning new skills should always be welcomed, whether you’re retired or just starting out on a new career path.
6. What else do you want to get out of volunteering?
In addition to enhancing your skill set, there’s plenty of other benefits of volunteering that may be part of the reason for deciding to get involved. Thinking about what these are can help you pick out a charity that’s right for you. Among the benefits that you may prioritise are meeting new people, improving activity levels or taking on new challenges.
7. Do you want to focus on your community or further afield?
Finally, do you want to work with a charity that has a local, national or international presence? Each option has benefits to weigh up. A local charity often means you can see the efforts of your hard work and gives you an opportunity to meet more people in your community. Whilst national and international charities are likely to tackle wider issues that could improve lives across the country or globally.