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Guide to Giving: How to find the right volunteer opportunity


Research shows Americans wait to be asked to volunteer. If you’re interested in volunteering, don’t wait!


Prior to seeking out a volunteer role, ask yourself these three questions: What causes do you care about, how much time do you have to volunteer, and what skills can you bring to an organization? Then, any volunteer opportunity will be more fulfilling.


Understand your passion


What moves you? For a fulfilling volunteer experience, it is best search your soul to understand what causes you care about most and what level of impact you want to make.


Spend time researching charities you may want to donate time or money to. Leverage social media to learn more about the local or national organizations you’re considering.


Consider your availability


Most charities have volunteer opportunities for as little as five hours a month — the amount of TV the average person watches in one night. It costs a charity hundreds of dollars when they invest in a new volunteer, but reliable volunteers are worth their weight in gold.


Identify the time you can realistically commit


Are you available on weekends or could you volunteer on weekdays, too? It will be helpful to both you and the charity if you know in advance how much time you can contribute.


Use your skills


Do you have any skills or hobbies that would be helpful to your chosen charity? If you’re a runner who likes animals, consider committing to a schedule of walking or running with shelter dogs.


If you like public speaking, many charities would love someone to do community outreach at houses of worship, community centers and corporate offices.


If you are interested in history or art, being a docent at a museum would allow you to learn more and share your interests with others.


Most people think of philanthropy as donating money, but donating your time and talent can be just as valuable. Charities run on the energy of dedicated volunteers.


To learn more about how and why people give back, visit HistoryOfGiving.org, an interactive history of the last 500 years of philanthropy.


Eileen Heisman is CEO of National Philanthropic Trust.

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