Volunteer in the New Year: Find Your Cause

01/05/2018 09:42 am ET
Photo credit: NPS / Neal Herbert

From environmentalism to global literacy, and education acess to women’s empowerment, the possibilities for aspiring volunteers are endless. For those with a goal in the New Year to give back and get involved, deciding on a volunteer commitment can be tricky. How to find the right opportunity fit? With these five tips, find your perfect match for volunteering in 2018.

  1. Tune Into Your Passion: Finding a cause that captures your heart and mind is a matter of paying attention to what moves you. Do you jump at every chance to engage with children, or spend afternoons in the great outdoors? Consider volunteering as a peer tutor, or participating in an environmental cleanup. Get creative about translating your interests into a way to give back for a more rewarding volunteer experience.
  2. Team Up: While not everyone may love the idea of unpacking donations at the food bank or collecting trash around the park, recruiting friends and family to join the cause makes volunteer tasks memorable and fun. Consider making a Facebook group for people to join, share updates, and RSVP. Just make sure to seek the organization’s volunteer coordinator’s blessing, advise them about the number of people on board, and send out a reminder before the big day!
  3. Size Up Your Skills: Are you a math whiz, a master of organization, or an animal whisperer? Whatever your talent, there’s a volunteer opportunity that lets you give back while doing something you love. Or, consider taking on a volunteer opportunity that lets you develop a new skill, such as upcycling clothing donations, or lending a hand at a Habitat for Humanity construction site.
  4. Determine Time Commitment: Once you’ve determined the type of activity you want to engage with, realistically evaluate your schedule and decide how often and for how long you want to volunteer. Whether your goal is to unite family and friends for a day of service, or to familiarize yourself with the nonprofit world, be honest about the time commitment to ensure a smooth, stress-free experience.
  5. Know Your Niche: Before committing to a lengthy volunteer engagement, take a day to immerse yourself in the organization and determine whether you’re ready to sign on long-term. Ask more experienced volunteers about the challenges and rewards of volunteering there. Take time to observe the environment to ensure that it’s a good match for your personality, skills, and volunteer goals.

However you decide to engage with your community and contribute to a better world, finding a cause that matches your passions and skills is key for a fulfilling experience. Remember these five tips when seeking opportunities, and may your volunteer goals in the New Year be a success!

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is an award-winning entrepreneur, cross-cultural trainer, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, (3rd printing), was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

Photo Credit: NPS / Neal Herbert

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