So you want to volunteer. That’s great! Have you decided how to launch yourself into the unknown world of volunteerism? Here are some tips to get you started.
Step 1: Self-reflect:
Take the time to answer these three easy questions.
After reflecting, your passion for animals and photography could lead you to volunteering as an event photographer for a local animal organization. Alternatively, your reflection could lead you to discover other skills you want develop and different causes to explore. Self-reflection is a great way to frame your volunteer search and help lead you in the right direction.
Step 2: Do some research:
Now that you know what might interest you, its time to find an organization that matches. You can skip to step three if you already know were you want to volunteer. If you’re not sure, search volunteer matching sites such as govolunteer.ca or do an internet search of the volunteer area you want to pursue in your city. There are many organizations looking for volunteers so you could be overwhelmed with the results. However taking the time to search “animal organizations Edmonton” could very well lead you to discovering an organization you did not know existed.
Step 3: Ask questions
Once you’ve found an organization you like, contact them about their available volunteer opportunities. Be sure to ask questions to understand what the volunteer role entails. Here are some basic questions to frame your conversation with the organization’s volunteer coordinator.
Just like any new commitment, choosing the right volunteer opportunity doesn’t happen by accident. Be patient. Know what you want to give and what you want to get from the experience. Your first volunteer experience may be the beginning of a wonderful adventure.
The Benefits of Volunteering:
Volunteering is a way to give back to your community and impact the lives of others. The great thing about volunteering is that it also affects the life of the giver. These three benefits of volunteering may surprise you.
Health: Volunteering can have positive effects on your physical health. Volunteer Canada in their ‘Volunteering and healthy aging’ resource note that a study done of 500 volunteers over 30 years revealed only 36% of participants had a major illness compared to 52% of people who did not volunteer. Many volunteer activities involve being active and on your feet. Your physical health can get a boost just by volunteering.
Career & Professional Development: Volunteering is a great way to explore a new career path and gain valuable professional experience. Find a volunteer role where you can develop the skills you’d like to apply in your professional life. You can also list your volunteer experience on your resume to help you describe your interests and personality to a potential employer in a different way.
Social: Meeting new people can be difficult. Volunteering is a great way to make new social connections. The great thing about meeting friends while you volunteer is they probably share similar values and interests since you’re volunteering for the same organization.
These are just three examples but you never know what else volunteering might do for you, the benefits are endless!
What to expect from organizations when applying to become a volunteer
Did you know most organizations have a volunteer manager? This is often the first person you talk with at an organization. Their job among other things is to recruit, train and manage volunteers. Here’s the scoop on what volunteer managers want you to know about volunteering.
Did you know?
Nonprofit organizations face a unique struggle when large groups of volunteers approach them. Organizations with limited resources, budget and capacity find it challenging manage a large group volunteer activity. Nonprofit organizations also report it challenging to find groups who understand volunteering, desire to help
meet organization’s needs rather than their own and who are flexible with time and tasks.
Before you approach an organization or volunteer centre consider the following questions:
Resources & References
Volunteer Connector is the go-to platform that connects volunteers with nonprofits in Edmonton, Calgary and beyond! Pinpoint your next volunteer adventure by filtering according to your tastes, availability, group size, age, and more.
When you land, just make sure the dropdown menu on the left says EDMONTON in order to access volunteer opportunities in Edmonton.
Special thanks to our friends Propellus in Calgary for expanding their volunteer connector for use in Edmonton as well!