Perhaps you could start with a few questions. Starting with:
- What issues do I care about?
- What are my skills /strengths?
- How much time am I willing to invest?
- Shop a charity?
- Career, hobby or lifestyle?
What issues do I care about?
List the top five issues you care about. Noting the reasons you care about each one.
This is a great trick to tap into your subconscious and get to the core of where your true cause lies.
Feeling a bit stuck and needing some inspiration? The UN has a list of global goals relating to a range of issues such as:
- Gender Equality
- Global Warming
- Food Security
- Water and Sanitation
Establishing a foundation of knowledge together with identifying your “true cause”, provides essential information to both new and old social crusaders. This makes you a far more engaged and empowered do-gooder.
What are my skills/strengths?
What do you bring to the table? These can be formal based skills like those acquired through tertiary education. For example; that degree in nursing allows you to help on a range of health related matters from consulting to grassroots helping.
They can also be informal such as the ability to speak a second language or, a character strength like good listening skills.
Make a list, check it twice (haha). But seriously, outlining your skills is not only a great ego boost. It’s also useful identifying your most transferable skills to the cause of your choice.
How much time am I willing to invest?
How much time are you actually willing to give? There is no right or wrong answer here. The onus lies in honesty. That means recognising a realistic time commitment, communicating this to the organisation and sticking to it.
Why so serious? Charities and beneficiaries value and depend heavily on volunteer service.
Case in point, if you commit to visiting an individual on a weekly basis. It’s important to remember the value you are providing not only to the organisation but to the individual you’re befriending.
If that commitment is too much, that’s okay. Just choose something with a better fit.
It’s better to establish this early on rather than midway down the track.
Shop your local charities
Many charities host information nights and training sessions designed to introduce and induct new volunteers. These sessions offer the volunteer the chance to learn about the work, meet the people involved and get a feel for the organisation.
Attending these sessions might seem like a waste of time. But trust me, they’re not. Engagement nights like these provide a great way to solidify your “cause of choice” and iron out any big personality differences (Yes, this can be a common problem).
Good questions to ask yourself include:
- Who is the volunteer manager and do I feel comfortable with him/her?
- Does their vision align with mine?
- Does the work inspire me?
- Will the charity support me innovate/ not to innovate?
Alternatively, you could follow their social handles for a few months.
Hobby, career or a bit of both?
Doing good is not isolated to volunteer work. It can be a career, a lifestyle choice, a hobby or variance of all three. The choice is yours. Volunteering is a great way of throwing yourself into a cause, developing new skills and meeting new people. It can also be the pathway to a more rewarding career and lifestyle.
Want to study a degree relevant to the helping field? Consider these:
- Public Health
- Water and Sanitation
- Social Work
- Human Services
- Sustainable Business
- Public/foreign Policy
Good luck and keep going.