Are you looking for a great way to give back to the community? With busy careers and personal lives, it may be overwhelming to think about adding one more item to your to-do list, but getting involved can benefit you in many ways. Not only does it allow you to support a good cause, but it can help expand your networks, knowledge, and professional experience as well. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect fit:
Take Time To Reflect
It may be tempting to dive right into researching organizations and attending events, but slow down and take some time to reflect. Think about why you want to get involved and how much time you can truly commit. Are you looking for educational and professional opportunities that will increase your knowledge, or are you interested in doing hands-on volunteer work? Perhaps you want to do a mix of both? Make a list of your goals, interests, likes, dislikes, passions, etc. Be honest and realistic. A written list will make it easier to stay on track as you research the many organizations and opportunities out there.
Do Your Research
Now that you know what type of organization and opportunity you’re looking for, go ahead and dive in! Do your research. Talk with friends, family, and colleagues about organizations they are involved in or know of. They know you best and probably can recommend a good fit. In addition, knowing someone within the organization may make it easier to make contact down the road.
Another great resource is the Internet. Be sure to use your goal list to identify key words, otherwise, you may find yourself sifting through hundreds of thousands of links. There are also websites that may help match you with an organization based on your passions and skills or expertise. Here are a couple for starters: volunteermatch.org and allforgood.org.
Once you have narrowed down your top picks, use a simple Google search and those endless search results to your advantage. Check out the organization’s website, news, social media, videos, events, etc. This will help you get an idea of what the organization is all about and if it is an opportunity worth pursuing.
The next step is to make contact with the organization you have chosen. If you know someone who is already involved, make contact through them. If not, reach out to the organization’s volunteer coordinator. Be prepared to give them some background information about yourself and your goals for getting involved. The more information the better. It will help clarify if this is the right volunteer opportunity for you.
Be sure to ask your contact about the next steps for getting involved. Each organization is different; some may require trainings while others may not. The volunteer coordinator can also answer any lingering questions you may have and provide you with information about upcoming meetings or events. Attending the organization’s events will help you get to know the organization and its members on a more personal level.
Do Not Rush In
The key to finding the right organization is to take your time. Getting involved is about doing purposeful work and developing meaningful relationships. Do not rush in and join an organization just for the sake of joining one. Take time to do thorough research and get a feel for how the organization is run; attend its annual event, observe several committee meetings, go to a seminar, or get coffee with your contact. It is better to start slow and be sure of your commitment, than to overload yourself with responsibilities before knowing if it is something you will enjoy. People will notice if you are just going through the motions. You are investing a lot of time and energy, so make sure it is worth it, for everyone, including yourself.
Getting involved in the community is a truly rewarding and enriching experience, especially when you are working towards something you care about. By doing your research and taking your time, you can find the right organization that aligns with your goals and passions, which is a win-win for everyone.
Amanda Peth is part of the marketing team at McManis Faulkner. She assists with crafting, tracking, and implementing marketing strategies regarding client development, social media, and general public relations.