Saturday, June 1, 2013

How to Volunteer (part 1): Find Your Cause and Work Backward

Is volunteering a regular part of your life?   Can you think back to the last time you served someone?   Are you looking forward to the next time?   Are you ready to do it for the first time?

Volunteering has become such a part of the American landscape that most high schools have a community service requirement.    Whether you are 12 or 82 you can get involved in your community or the world at large.   Looking to find your way?   

This is the first post in a series of How to Volunteer

Find a Cause and Work Backward

Start by asking yourself this question:  What am I passionate about?
Cancer research and funding?   Helping children learn to read?   Finding forever homes for rescue dogs?  Feeding the homeless?   Job Coaching?  Building/repairing houses?  Children or youth at your place of worship? 

Every cause under the sun has a non-profit.   And every non-profit needs volunteers to get things done so that their operating budget can go towards their goal.   I recently went to a volunteer orientation for a service dog program in Denver.     They told us how thankful they were to have a volunteer came in every week to file.   Yes, that's right.  File.   Non-profits need people to file, answer phones, stuff envelopes, raise money and advocate for the cause at community events.   They also need people to volunteer for their big fundraising or community events.

Step 1: Find a Cause

Step 2: Do Your Research
Talk to someone who works or volunteers at the organization.   Facebook stalk the organization to see what they have going on.   Read through their website.   Many non-profits have a link on their home page that will say either volunteer or get involved.

Step 3: Do It
You need to make the call, send the email, or sign up for the event.   Until you take this step, it's just a nice idea "well, I thought about helping with ______."  If you're nervous about doing something alone, recruit a friend or family member to do it with you.   Remember, you picked this organization, cause, or event because you believe in what they are doing and you want to be a part of it.  And the other volunteers?   They believe the same thing.  Nothing scary about it.    

Ready to Go?
Need a starting off point?  The links below are for events that may be happening in your city this summer or fall.    Most big fundraising walks, runs and rides need a lot of volunteers.   The first year that I volunteered for the Colorado Bike MS, I was taking bikes off school buses and putting them in the bike corral.   How do you handle 3000 cyclists and their bikes?   Volunteers. 

What does a Bike Corral look like?
Now you know

Use these links to find an event in your area and consider signing up to volunteer.

Susan G Komen - Race for the Cure
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society - Light the Night
American Cancer Society - Relay for Life
American Diabetes Association - Step Out for Diabetes
National MS Society - Walk MS or Bike MS
March of Dimes - March for Babies
Alzheimer's Association - Walk to End Alzheimers

Where do you volunteer?

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