Update September 2016: After 50, many women think about adding new purpose to their lives through volunteering. They may be nearing retirement or the end of child care responsibilities or just feel the need to expand their horizons. If you’ve considered an area of volunteering, it’s important to examine the options that will interest you and energize your life.
A good place for research is www.VolunteerMatch.org. It reports on opportunities, locations, training, volunteers’ personal stories, corporate programs, non-profits, donations, profiles of organizations and news stories. There is an email newsletter and blog. Webinairs allow you to ask your own questions. It’s become a community of six million people.
You can start enter your ZIP code and hit ‘Search’ to locate opportunities in your community or in a future retirement location.
You can refine your choices by searching by your interests and talents.
Here are some tips from their site to help you with the process.
- Define Your Interests Do you want to mentor children? Are you passionate about the environment? Do you care about the arts? In the search box on the VolunteerMatch homepage, type in a keyword that relates to your interests.
- Refine Your Search. Make your search specific to you. Use the VolunteerMatch Search feature to find opportunities by geographic area, interest, organization name, and more.
- Go Virtual. You don’t have to be physically located at your volunteer opportunity to participate in it. Virtual volunteer opportunities can be undertaken from any location in the world. While many of those will require a computer, some require just a desire to give back. To search for virtual opportunities, click on the small checkbox that reads “Search for Virtual Opportunities.”
- Focus on what you care about. What really moves you – children, the environment, poverty, ethics, whatever moves you?
- Decide what do you hope to gain from volunteering. Are you looking to meet new people? Learn new skills? Give back to your community or the world? Whatever your motivation, be sure to think about what is important to you. The more you know, the easier it will be to find your perfect volunteer match.
- Contact the Organization. Once you’ve identified an organization, click “I want to help” to let the them know you want to volunteer with them. This can mean a wide variety of activities and commitments for you to examine.
- It’s OK to experiment – Go easy on yourself getting involved to be sure it’s right for you. If you do make a commitment, be sure to follow through.
VolunteerMatch.org also offer some training, and tell you what to expect as an experience. In periodic scheduled webinars experienced volunteer managers discuss how to evaluate what’s right for you, how organizations deal with volunteers and the issues that may arise. Their FAQ’s are useful.
See more on YouTube.com
6 Steps to getting started as a volunteer:
|1. Time To Give? — First, determine how much time you have available. You don’t want to over commit and leave the organization in a lurch, and you don’t want to get yourself into situation where you’re not enjoying the work you’re doing.|
|2. Setting the Stage — Next, determine what kind of environment you want to work in as a volunteer. Outdoors? Indoors? At a desk? In front of an audience? On your computer at home? Not every organization can offer all these environments.|
|3. Does Cause Matter? — “Cause” refers to the specific mission of an organization, the goals they are working for. Do you find yourself energized and inspired to change the world in one specific fashion?|
|4. Now You Can Start — Once you’ve thought about availability, environment and cause, you’re ready to search. VolunteerMatch.org allows you to choose your area. That means even though you’re based in Ohio, you can help a Florida organization save manatees.|
|5. Getting Social — Use our advanced search page to search for opportunities that are good for groups and kids and anyone else you want to bring with you to volunteer.|
|6. Giving Back Benefits You–Choose opportunities that can help you pursue a personal passion. The more you can find something that aligns your interests with the needs of a nonprofit organization, the more likely you are to have a great experience.|
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