Volunteering has been a part of America’s civic culture since the early days of barn raisings and quilting bees. Neighbors have nearly always been willing to pitch in and help others in times of need. Helping others is not out of fashion. In fact, a new trend in volunteerism is sweeping America and you can be a part of it!

Consider Time, Interests, and Skills
When choosing a volunteer opportunity, consider the amount of time you have to volunteer, your interests, and your skills. Volunteering is a perfect way to enjoy an activity and contribute to a cause that you are passionate about. Think you have no talent or particular skill set? You probably have more talents than you realize, but don’t worry. There are many opportunities that simply require a caring heart and an able body.

Questions to consider when thinking about volunteering:

  • How much time do you have to contribute?
  • Do you want to do something on a regular or just an occasional basis?
  • Do you have any particular skills or talents that you would like to share?
  • What cause or population would you like to work with? A better environment, a neighborhood cleanup project, the elderly, young children, animals, teens, the homeless?
  • Do you want the activity to include just you or your family as well?
  • Do you prefer to volunteer as a team or by yourself?

Types of organizations that utilize volunteer services:

  • Churches
  • Social Service Agencies
  • Civic-minded Groups
  • Cultural/Artistic Groups
  • Schools
  • Health Care Organizations and Institutions
  • Political Organizations

Family Volunteer Ideas

  • Participate in organized charity runs or walks.
  • Collect food for the food bank in your community.
  • Visit the elderly at a local nursing home; adopt a grandparent.
  • Baby-sit free on occasion for a harried single mom.
  • Rake leaves, plant flowers, or shovel snow for an elderly or disabled neighbor.
  • Walk dogs or cuddle kitties at the local animal shelter.
  • rite letters for or read to a sight-impaired person.

How to Get Started

Ask Your Friends and Relatives
The least threatening way to find a volunteer opportunity is to ask your friends or relatives where they volunteer and go with them. Or, ask a friend to go with you when you find a place you think you’d like to volunteer. Walking into a new place alone can be intimidating. But just know that nonprofits want your help and will encourage and welcome you! Most will work to match your skills to their needs.

Check with those you know if they are aware of needs in the community and what agencies or churches head up the programs. Call them, introduce yourself, and ask if they have regular need of volunteers. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t strike gold immediately. It’s ok if you don’t feel like jumping at a particular opportunity right away. It’s important that you have an interest in what you’ll be doing.

1800Volunteer.org and VolunteerMatch.com
Another way to find a volunteer opportunity is to use either of these web sites. Both start with your zip code to provide you with local options. They also track your volunteer service and send e-mail notifications whenever your time and talent would be needed. If the thought of volunteering is daunting, these sites narrow down the possibilities for you so you can do a little research on the organization’s web site before you commit.

Simple Steps to Get Involved (you have a double space after this sub-title but not after others)
Follow these steps and you'll be volunteering in no time!

  • Visit the Search page and enter your ZIP code. Go to: http://www.volunteermatch.com
  • Find a listing that interests you and click on its title for additional details. Next, click “I like this opportunity.”

Register as a VolunteerMatch.com member and an automatic email will be sent to the volunteer organization notifying them of your interest. They will contact you if there is an opening for volunteers.

Finding the Right Opportunity
Now that you understand how the service works, screen the opportunities that suit you best. Follow up promptly with the nonprofit after you've referred yourself to an opportunity.

  • Choose a cause that you're passionate about.
  • Find an opportunity that matches your skills, interests, and schedule.
  • List your skills for the nonprofit for which you’d like to volunteer.

How to Be a Great Volunteer
Part of having a great volunteer experience relies on your ability to be a great volunteer. These basic principles are good to keep in mind:

  • Be professional.
  • Honor your volunteer commitments. Show up on time and call in when you are ill.
  • Extend gratitude to an organization for any training or professional development you receive.
Author's Bio: 

Debra Berg is a coach for nonprofit causes and leaders, an author, speaker, and the foremost authority on The New Civic America. In the nineties, her self-funded trek across America engaged over 100 citizen-inventors of social solutions to our toughest social challenges. In the process, she uncovered a new trend of nonprofit innovation and volunteerism. Now a respected expert and speaker, Debra has appeared in the Chicago Sun Times and on over seventy-five radio and TV talk shows. Her groundbreaking research is featured in her book, The Power of One: The Unsung Everyday Heroes Rescuing America’s Cities. She is also a co-author in the best-selling book “Living in Abundance.”

The author holds two public policy degrees, the Certificate of Excellence in Nonprofit Administration, and is trained in social media promotion for nonprofits. Debra staffed the Watergate hearings on Capitol Hill and later served as an analyst for three state legislatures where she co-authored studies on education and social policy.

Debra is known as the “Cause Coach” by her clients. She works with new and existing causes to improve their visibility and viability. She is the Charity Guide on SelfGrowth.com. In 2007, she launched the National Institute for Civic Enterprise, a national research and human services nonprofit network. Her numerous articles and e-books target civic/social entrepreneurs, donors, socially conscious businesses, and volunteers.

Debra Berg is available to inspire your organization as a speaker, to appear on radio/TV for an interview on the NICENetwork or her books, and to provide nonprofit coaching.

Phone: 1-888-753-3395
Email: debra@nicenetwork.org
Web Site: www.DebraBerg.com

Chat with Debra: @CauseCoach on Twitter and Facebook
DebraJBerg on Linkedin.
Join the NICENetwork Linkedin Group.

Debra Berg – The Official Guide to Charity and Volunteering

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Debra Berg, the Official Guide to Charity and Volunteering