Are you considering volunteering? Or perhaps you’ve done so in the past and you’re looking for a new project? We all live busy lives and between work, looking after our families, socialising and making time for our hobbies it can be difficult to find a spare moment. But finding the time to do some volunteer work can be so rewarding.
Whether you want to work with a local charity, give your time to answering charity helplines, host fundraising events or raise awareness about an important cause, you can find a style of volunteering that best suits you. In this guide we’re going to look at the benefits of volunteering and where best to find the right opportunities.
Why should you volunteer?
There are a number of advantages of volunteering and doing so can have a positive impact on your own life and the lives of others. Below we’ll outline just four reasons why you should consider giving up your time to volunteer.
1) To give back
First and perhaps most obviously, volunteering is your chance to give back to the community – whether that’s to a local charity or a larger organisation that is close to your heart. You can help out on small projects for local schools, volunteer to work with animals, give your time to helping homeless people or act as a much-needed voice at the end of the phone for a mental health charity. Whatever you choose to do, you could be making a real difference to the lives of others.
2) To explore your interests
By taking on new projects you’ll be broadening your horizons and you might find new things you’re passionate about. These could influence your hobbies or even your career path. For example, you could work with animals, help combat climate change, care for those with disabilities or be a friendly face to the elderly. You might find through volunteering you find a new lease of creativity and motivation; you could discover things you never knew about yourself.
3) For your mind, body and soul
Volunteering can do wonders for your mental and physical health. If you take on active projects that involve physical work, this can help to keep you fit. It’s also been found that volunteering helps you to relieve stress, combat depression and is an escape from your everyday life. Not to mention it helps to boost your confidence and gives you a real sense of purpose.
4) To advance your career
Finally, volunteer work can help you to sharpen your transferable skills and looks great on your CV! It can help you to move forward in your career, particularly if you’re volunteering in your chosen industry. It gives you something to talk about in interviews and shows that you’re a passionate and caring person. It can also expand your network and help you to meet like-minded people.
How should I go about volunteering?
If you’ve made the decision to volunteer, you first need to find the perfect project or charity for you. In this next section we’ll look at how to get into volunteer work. Below are a few routes you could take to find the right project for you.
1) Look for local causes
Do you know of any local charities you could approach? Perhaps a walk around your local area will reveal some causes that need extra help. You could also talk to your friends and family in the area to see if they’ve heard about any volunteer work going. Alternatively, if you know the type of work you want to do you can approach local schools, care homes or animal shelters to ask if they need help. You can also check out the local paper to see if any ads have been placed in there.
2) Register for niche job boards
There are a number of job boards set up to help you find volunteer work. A quick online search will reveal these sites to you, simply register with your CV and sign up for email alerts. Watch the volunteering opportunities come right to your inbox.
3) Visit websites directly
If you have a particular charity or sector in mind you can go straight to their website. More often than not they’ll have a dedicated page which will tell you how you can get involved. So check out charities or causes close to your heart to see how you can help.
4) Make the most of social media
Finally, make the most of social media. Follow your favourite charities or causes as they’ll likely share opportunities to help on their social media channels. Alternatively, use appropriate hashtags to help you find volunteering opportunities.
No matter how you choose to volunteer your time, it is a surefire way to boost your confidence and improve your mindset about other aspects of your life. It’s also a great way to give back to the communities you are involved in – no matter whether they are big or small.