Finding the right fit: How to find a volunteer opportunity that is right for you

When donating your time to a good cause, it is important to find a position that is a good fit. This article explores ways to find a position that will be rewarding.

Time is valuable and limited. When you choose to donate your time to a good cause it is important to find an organization you believe in and a position that is a good fit for your interests and skills. If you do not find the right position, you may feel unfulfilled and could burnout. You and the organization benefit when you love what you are doing and believe in the program. How do you find the right position for you? Where should you start?

First, brainstorm a list of causes and/or populations you are passionate about. Michigan State University Extension suggests this might include things like animals, children, the elderly, or disease awareness. Once you complete this list you can start thinking about what skills or talent you might have to lend to an organization. What are you good at and what do you like to do? Your list can include tasks like office work, helping people or manual labor. Your two lists will help you in the next step – searching for an organization.

You can start you search through a website like VolunteerMatch or United We Serve where you can enter your location and key words to find opportunities near you. Local volunteer centers and the United Way often provide lists of opportunities as well. If you have an idea of an organization you would like to volunteer for, you can learn more about them directly from their website. Once you narrow down your search to a few positions and organizations, you will want to do some research to see which one will be the best fit for you. You can look online or call the volunteer coordinator to get answers to your questions. Some questions to ask include:

  • What positions are you looking to fill?
  • What is the time requirement? Is this a one time or ongoing position?
  • What is the screening and training process?
  • What type of ongoing support or supervision is provided?

 Do not be put off by intensive screening and training – these are actually signs of a high quality program, particularly if you are going to be working with youth or vulnerable adults. Screening should be a two-way conversation. The organization is getting to know you to see if you are a good fit for the position and you are getting to know the organization and position to see if it is the right fit for your interests and talents. A good program will make sure you have the skills and information that you need to succeed and enjoy your service. This often requires orientation or training. The most rewarding volunteer positions involve serving an organization that you believe in and doing work that is enjoyable and valued. There are thousands of volunteer positions open at any given time. If you aren’t passionate about a particular position or program just keep looking- with a little research you are sure to find the perfect opportunity for you.

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