Local Volunteer Opportunities: A Smart Guide for Retirees
You're retired. Your time is finally yours. You might be considering adding some volunteer efforts to your day now that you have the time to give back.
But where do you even begin?
Researching Local Volunteer Opportunities
A great way to start researching opportunities to volunteer is to search by your skills and interests. Did you spend a few decades as a computer programmer or developer? You might start by researching local STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) nonprofits. If you're an animal lover, you can start by looking at local animal rescues. Think about how your former career skills and long-time hobbies and passions could be an asset to nonprofits who are looking for eager folks like yourself to help fulfill their missions. Need help getting started? A simple Facebook post or email to a few friends along with a web search for "nonprofits " can get you started with a solid list to explore.
Vetting Local Nonprofits
When you've made a short list of potential organizations that could benefit from your skills and interests, you want to make sure they're on the up-and-up. Both Charity Navigator and Charity Watch can help you research the financial side of organizations that can benefit from your time and skills. It's also never an unwise idea to speak to other volunteers if possible. If it's an animal charity, drop by on adoption days or visit the shelter and chat up a volunteer or two. If it's another kind of organization, ask to be put in touch with a few volunteers to ask about their experiences. Questions are your ally, because the answers will help you see what it's really like to volunteer for an organization beyond a group's website and printed literature.
Deciding Where to Spend Your Time
You could pour all of your volunteering efforts into a single organization or opt to help multiple organizations with varying local volunteer opportunities. How do you decide where to focus your time? There's no hard and fast rule, but here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you decide whether to go wide with your efforts or keep a narrow focus:
- If I focus on this one organization, will that help me develop deeper relationships with the people I'm directly helping with my volunteer efforts?
- Does the idea of "mixing it up" with varied organizations excite me or exhaust me?
- For each organization I choose to volunteer with, how will I see the direct impact of my time, talents and skills?
- Is there an organization I'm more passionate about volunteering for than others?
By answering these questions, you can begin narrowing down your volunteering options. A smart idea is to start small — focus on one organization — and from there, see how those efforts impact your time and energy. Then, you can decide how to spend your extra time and energy.
Local Volunteer Opportunities: The Smartest Choices
Your smart choices will always be those where you're passionate about the work you're doing and can see a true impact for your efforts. Choose wisely, and know there are numerous organizations hungry for your skills and passions. From there, you can choose the right fit for your time and your generous heart.