One thing I love about my job is getting asked, “where should I volunteer?” What a great question! So you’ve decided you want to help. You want to leave the world a better place then how you found it. You want to devote your time to a cause you care about. You want to make a difference. Now what?
Maybe I can help. Here are some questions I ask my students when they come to me with that very inquiry:
Where is a place you’d like to spend more time? Where would you rather be right now?
One of the major allures of volunteering is this idea that you’re devoting your time to help others. If you’re going to devote time to something, it might as well be in a place you want to be. So ask yourself, where is your happy place? Is it in the great outdoors? Check out environmental agencies like Bridging the Gap, Operation Wildlife, or the Heartland Conservation Alliance! Is it in the quiet solitude of a library or museum? See what’s near you, they always need volunteers as well!
Who do you want to help? Are there any causes you’re particularly concerned about, interested in, or want to learn more about?
Volunteering is your chance to act on issues you’re passionate about! Maybe you drive by that same corner every day where there’s always a homeless person. You’ve been wanting to help, but aren’t sure how. There are a plethora of agencies in the metro area that work directly with homeless populations, like Cross-Lines, UpLift, or even Nourish KC. Think of a population you want to serve. Are there any social issues you find yourself talking about a lot? Find something you care about, so that every time you leave you feel satisfied that you’re doing something about it instead of just talking about it.
Think of your passions and hobbies!
Not all of us are lucky enough to make a living off of our passions and hobbies, but there are a lot of volunteer opportunities that might align with your interests! Are you crafty? So many agencies that serve children or adults are looking for people to interact with kids through arts and crafts – like SAFEHOME or Lakeview Village for example. Are you interested in fashion? Try a thrift store like TurnStyles. Search for volunteer opportunities that you’ll ENJOY, something you’ll get excited about every time you go in.
What strengths do you have to offer? What do you envision yourself doing?
Every agency has several volunteer opportunities that encapsulate different skill sets. It makes sense to apply the skills of your every day life to volunteering, whether that means a similar position to your day job, or ways to apply your specific education. Or do you want to do something completely different? What do you envision when you picture yourself as a volunteer? Are you working with people? Are you working independently? We all have something different to offer, think about what you want to give of yourself.
Hopefully that gave you some ideas. Now do some research and get out there and act on that philanthropic urge! Or at least keep checking back to find the perfect fit for you 🙂