This is the second post in the Community Volunteer Engagement Blog Series.
By this time, you’ve hopefully read the first post in this series on why people choose to volunteer and narrowed the list of causes you care about down to one or two. Now you want to start volunteering. What’s next?
- What is my main motivation for volunteering? Am I looking for a way to work on a cause I care about? Am I hoping to network with people with similar values and form new relationships? Do I want to get involved in a fun opportunity, regardless of the cause? Do I want to share a special skill of mine? Understanding your main motivation for wanting to volunteer will help you determine if a volunteer opportunity fits your desires.
- What kinds of activities do I want to do? Do I want to work directly with clients? Do I want to do administrative work such as mailings and phone calls? Do I want to help with special events such as planning logistics or soliciting sponsors? Do I want to lead a committee or group?
- How much time can I realistically commit to volunteering? Knowing that ongoing volunteering is the most impactful, how much time can I commit to volunteering on a monthly or weekly basis?
- How long do I plan to volunteer? Can I commit to six month or a year?
- How much autonomy do I want? Am I looking for an opportunity that is structured or one with more flexibility for me to be creative?
- Are there barriers that would prevent me from volunteering? Consider transportation barriers or an organization’s operating hours.
With your answers to these questions in mind, you can take a few simple steps to begin your volunteering journey:
- Go online to the United Way 2-1-1 Volunteer Center at uw.org/volunteer to search our online database of over 300 volunteer opportunities or dial 2-1-1 to speak to a trained information specialist that can help you connect to a volunteer opportunity.
- Contact the agency you want to volunteer with and let them know what you had in mind. The more specific you can be using the answers to the questions the better the agency can match you with the right opportunity.
- Don’t give up! If you’re new to volunteering you might not realize that at some agencies the volunteer coordinator is also the program coordinator and receptionist. Sometimes it may take multiple calls or emails to reach someone. It’s not that they don’t need your help; they may just be juggling multiple responsibilities.
If an agency isn’t responding to you, contact Stephanie at UWSL with the name of the agency, the contact information you’ve been using, and your contact information and we’ll reach out to determine if they still need volunteers or if their point of contact has changed. If you have other questions or would like to discuss a group or Eagle Scout project, contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801.746.2566.
Stay tuned for next month’s Community Volunteer Engagement post on the impact you have as a volunteer!