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The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Getting Started with Volunteering


Volunteering for the first time can be intimidating, so our friends at Golden, a turnkey solution for creating and finding volunteer opportunities, have rounded up some tried and true tricks to make it easier and to ensure you get the most out of your experience! 

Find an opportunity that’s based on your hobbies and everyday interests. 
Volunteering has often had the taboo of being “boring.” That’s old news. Using technology that matches you with personalized opportunities allows you to find one that’s perfect for you! There are so many ways you can get out there and help, based on what you’d already be doing for fun. 

For example… If you like horses, many cities have equine therapy centers that allow you to walk alongside the horse while children with disabilities ride! Or, if you love the outdoors, hit the beach for a cleanup or participate in your local community garden project. There’s truly something for everyone. 

Causes are important, but don’t get too hung up on it. 
If you’re passionate about animals, the environment, or addressing homelessness, well, that’s amazing! But if there isn’t something available in your specific cause area, don’t let that stop you from volunteering. Leverage a platform like Golden to see what opportunities are available - you will be surprised at how your skills can make a world of difference for charities that align with your passions. Volunteering is an incredible way to discover new areas of interest and gain new perspectives. Plus, you’ll get all the emotional and health benefits of volunteering regardless of what issue area you engage with.


Ask your friends. 
Studies show that most people volunteer because they were asked. Don’t be afraid to send an opportunity to your friends and suggest they come along! Volunteering also helps build relationships through team-building and embarking on a meaningful experience together. Who knows, you and your friends might just get closer because of it.


On the other hand… Don’t be afraid to make new friends. 
While you’re out on the field, strike up conversations and try to connect with those around you! We’ll guarantee this leaves you and your friends feeling more fulfilled and builds a greater sense of community. 

Be a cheap (but amazing!) date. 
Don’t know what to do for a second or third date? Volunteering is a great (and inexpensive) way to show off your best side and learn more about someone new in your life.

You’ll get a more meaningful experience as a returning volunteer. 
Trust us on this one. Nothing is better than hitting an opportunity and seeing familiar faces of other volunteers or of the recipients of your help. Friendships will start to form, making it not only an extremely gratifying experience. You’ll also develop higher feelings of belonging (which decreases loneliness, anxiety, and depression). NBD, right? 

Make sure the activity fits your schedule. 
With plenty of organizations to choose from, participate in an opportunity during your free time so there’s no stress attached to the activity! 

Virtual opportunities are also great for completing service from the comfort of home and on your own timeline! 


Use the opportunity to explore potential career options. 
Looking for your next career move? Volunteering is a tried and true way to help steer you in the right direction. You can gain training and professional development, which will give you insight into what industry you want to pursue and give you stellar experience on your resume, increasing your chances of getting hired. 

If you’re interested in getting started, download the app to see what opportunities are in your area.

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