Experiment with civic volunteerism until you find something you love. Unless you came to this page because you were assigned to community service
by a court or because you were required to do service learning for high
school or college, you should be giving away your time and your skills for a cause that brings you joy.
You can make your own community better, and a multitude of worthwhile causes deserve your attention. So choose one you like.
Neighborhood associations and communities rely on volunteerism to meet critical needs. If you are engaged in community development work in a neighborhood, consider whether teams of unpaid folks can perform the many tasks you would like to assign an executive director, if only you had the money to hire one.
Best of all from the point of view of the potential volunteer, helping a nonprofit, community organization, or government can meet a host of personal development needs.
These include advancing your job search, giving senior citizen volunteers
something challenging to do, getting anyone out of the house, providing
a way to meet new friends or even potential dates and mates, and
broadening your perspective by exposing you to people, places, and
things that are foreign to your everyday experience. Helping others often provides an emotional high and some real life satisfaction that is difficult to achieve otherwise. You can bring joy or comfort to others so easily.
Before you start surfing the Web, making phone calls, and visiting actual work sites to follow up on your interest in volunteerism, consider which you like best:
A second category of consideration is what group, geographic area, or virtual territory you want to consider your community. Is it closer to:
Be as certain of your motivation as possible. Are you considering this commitment or specific one-time project because:
It's also worthwhile to evaluate honestly your capabilities:
Your local United Way, YMCA, library, neighborhood organization, city hall, or place of worship may be able to give you more than enough ideas from which to choose. Radio and TV station websites often feature opportunities too.
If you don't see something really interesting, think of a local organization that you admire. Call them, ask them if they can use your services, and if they aren't able to use your energies, perhaps they know a related cause that could.
Or perhaps you can be their first unpaid helper. You're a good candidate if your schedule is reliable, health and transportation are good, you have a sound education at least a high school level, you can look people in the eye and say something appropriate, and you've stayed out of trouble and done some worthwhile things in your life.
Although you may not think of working in community organizations or neighborhood associations as volunteer work, commitments such organizations indeed count as volunteering. Poke around further on the website if you think becoming more active in such a group might be for you. If needed, you could start a neighborhood association, or if you have some relevant background, start a community development corporation.
Or if you do everything on-line, just search among a number of great national and international listings on-line, including:
-Community Built Association, particularly appropriate for this site, as they match professionals and community people to transform the physical environment
-Hands On Network, a huge international volunteerism program of the Points of Light Institute, which has more than 70,000 corporate, non-profit, and faith-based partners in 16 nations,
-VolunteerMatch, a major site,
-idealist.org (which includes many other resources for cause-oriented people such as people attracted to this site),
-another all-purpose site to help you find the right community service opportunity
-the International Volunteer HQ showing opportunities in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, Mexico, the South Pacific, and Europe
Two U.S. governmental listings are a site that compiles natural and cultural resource opportunities for 12 federal agencies, and the Obama Administration initiative, Corporation for National and Community Service.