Saturday January 19, 2019
How to Find Volunteer Opportunities
For many individuals, finding a volunteer opportunity that satisfies your interests, utilizes your talents and matches your availability can be challenging. Here are some tips and online tools that can help you find an interesting and satisfying volunteer opportunity.
Volunteering is a great way to make a positive contribution to your community and stay actively engaged. Not to mention, it is good for your health too. But how can you find the right opportunity for you? Start by asking yourself some basic questions like: What types of organizations or activities am I interested in? What kind of skills can I offer a volunteer organization? How much time am I willing to give? What do I want to gain from my experience (e.g., meet new people, learn new skills, help those in need, etc.)?
Once you have a general idea of what you would like to do, there are dozens of volunteer websites that can help you search for different opportunities in your area. Many of the sites have search engines that allow you to search by location and area of interest. The sites will then give you a list of opportunities that you can browse through. Depending on your interest and expertise, here are some options to help you get started.
General volunteer matching sites: To find a wide variety of volunteer opportunities in your community, check out VolunteerMatch.org, IdeaList.org and AllForGood.org. These websites allow you to search for local volunteer opportunities or start your own project and invite others to help you. Another website worth mentioning is HandsOnNetwork.org, which connects volunteers to opportunities through more than 250 volunteer centers throughout the U.S.
Retiree volunteer sites: If you are retired and interested in opportunities targeting older adults and retirees, some good options include AARP's CreateTheGood.org, along with SeniorCorps.gov, which matches retirees with community projects and organizations that need experienced volunteer help.
Senior Corps offers three different programs: RSVP, which has a variety of volunteer activities with flexible time commitments; the Senior Companion Program that brings together volunteers with homebound seniors who have difficulty with day-to-day living tasks; and the Foster Grandparent Program that matches volunteers with children in the community who have exceptional needs.
Government-sponsored sites: There are a number of government-sponsored websites that can help you look for different volunteer opportunities. To locate dozens of general options in your area, visit Serve.gov. To find natural and cultural volunteer opportunities in places like national and state parks, see Volunteer.gov. If you are interested in emergency preparedness and disaster response volunteer services, go to Ready.gov. Lastly, if you are interested in longer-term volunteer opportunities, check out AmeriCorps.gov and PeaceCorps.gov/50plus, which offers a variety of three-month to two-year programs in the U.S. and abroad.
Professional and executive sites: If you have expertise in areas like business planning and development, marketing, communications, finance, fundraising, web design, graphic design, writing or editing, check out Catchafire.org, TaprootPlus.org and ESCUS.org. These websites can link you to volunteer opportunities with nonprofit organizations in need that are looking for certain skill sets. Another option, if you are looking to help entrepreneurs and small business owners, is to check out a volunteer mentoring program like SCORE at SCORE.org.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.