12/20/2013 10:00 am ET Updated Feb 19, 2014

Effective Volunteering During the Holiday Season

During this season, the holiday spirit produces an increase in volunteering. This is great for nonprofits. However, the demand for volunteer opportunities sometimes exceeds the needs of organizations. So, learn how to take an effective approach to your holiday volunteering.

Do Something You Love
Choose a volunteer opportunity you truly enjoy. Pick a group that supports something you love. Think about the issues that are important to you and what you might want to gain from the entire volunteer experience. If you like outdoor activities, exercising, or caring for others, you may have success this holiday season looking for volunteer work at local hospitals, nursing homes, and even schools. If you enjoy painting and dancing, research how you can volunteer with individuals who do not normally get to enjoy those types of activities, like the elderly or the sick.

Use Your Own Unique Skill Set
Can you play the piano? Are you a talented artist? Do you know your way around the kitchen? Maybe you have fantastic organizing skills! Volunteer to put your own talents to use by providing a simple public service. Be sure to check out volunteer opportunities at your local shelters or thrift shops. You could even ask your next-door neighbor if he or she needs assistance. Skills-based volunteering helps you become an asset for others.

Bring Others On-Board
If you really want to be effective, consider volunteering with your friends. Once you become aware of the nonprofit's goals, you may discover that the organization needs more than one person. You may be surprised at how willing your friends want to contribute to your worthy cause. With a collective effort, your team can help the nonprofit reach its goals faster. Plus, your friends and you can share some memorable experiences. Helping others become more involved in volunteering by volunteering shows your commitment.

Set Realistic Goals
Be honest about the time you can offer. Don't overpromise, and then fail to meet those obligations. Be truthful with the volunteer manager about your time constraints. You only may have enough time to volunteer twice a week or for a one-time project. Talk with the organization about different ways you can have the best impact. Also, don't underestimate the power of your work. Nonprofits need volunteers, and you are making a difference!

When volunteering this holiday season, be strategic in your efforts. Your unique talents and group of friends can change the lives of others. Start by visiting Happy volunteering!