6 Things to Consider Before Volunteering

6 things to consider before volunteering

Do you want to get some volunteering experience to help you with your career progression and job search? Here are 6 things to consider before you get started so that you can find the right role and organisation for you to join.

1.      Ask yourself, why do you want to volunteer?

Are you currently not working and want to volunteer while you job search? Do you want to gain some experience or learn specific skills? Do you have a passion for certain industries or causes that you want to get involved in? Asking yourself why you want to spend your time volunteering will help you focus your search. The organisation you apply to will also be asking you similar questions, so it helps to think about these points before you meet with them.

2.      Know what you like to do

There are a lot of volunteer options out there and it can be overwhelming to figure out what you want to do. The best way to narrow down the field is to make a short list of some of the activities you like to do either at work or outside of it, and any skills you want to utilise or learn. By doing this you will be able to avoid roles that you may not be happy taking on. Ask yourself, do you enjoy sports, being outdoors or working with children? If you search for these characteristics on volunteer job sites, like Do It Org, you can find roles specifically looking for these qualities and vacancies that will appeal to you more.

Companies looking for volunteers welcome the skills and knowledge that they have

3.      Make a list of skills you can share

Knowing what you can bring to an organisation is invaluable. Companies looking for volunteers welcome the skills and knowledge that they have, it’s one of the reasons why volunteers are highly regarded and sourced in businesses. If you’re an organised person, have a keen eye for detail or good at languages, then these are skills that you can apply to any number of roles. If you can budget, make things or play an instrument, these are great skills to share and teach others. Soft skills like talking to people or managing your time are also beneficial when it comes to volunteering.

4.      Think about what experience you want to gain

The same applies to any work experience and knowledge you want to gain. Write down a list of activities you’d like to try and skills you want to learn, you can then search for roles that offer the chance to try these out. Volunteering is about give and take, it’s a mutual benefit to businesses and their volunteers and sometimes you can gain experience doing something you’d never have thought of.

5.      Figure out how much time you can give

I work full time and I know what it’s like to have a busy schedule due to work and family, so bear this in mind before you commit to volunteering. Often the organisation you apply to is grateful for any time you can give but double-check with them if you’re unsure what the schedule will be like and how often they will need you. On most volunteering sites the vacancies usually indicate the hours you are required for, and you can also specify your own preferred days and times, for instance if you prefer evening or weekend work.

6.      Take advantage of free resources

If you are already in work or education, utilise any resources you have that can help you upskill or develop skills that you might want to use for your volunteering role. Any free training available is always good to take advantage of, and this could be something related to IT, teamworking or first aid training. It can all help boost your skillset. There are often local Adult Education Services that offer courses for free or at low costs and there is a wealth of knowledge available online. A great resource for free learning is the Open University, they have hundreds of free distance learning courses available that anyone can sign up for. You can also find tutorials on YouTube about any topic of interest. I love Wiki How, it’s a terrific site with tutorials to help you learn how to do pretty much anything you want.

Don’t forget!

  • References and a Disclosure Barring Services (DBS) check may be required – most organisations will cover the cost of getting a DBS check, so it shouldn’t cost you a penny
  • Add any volunteering roles to your CV, it shows you’re multi-faceted and a lot of organisations have a focus on corporate and social responsibility, which volunteering ties in nicely with

Useful websites to check out for volunteering opportunities, courses and tutorials:

www.do-it.org

www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses/full-catalogue

www.findcourses.co.uk

www.wikihow.com

www.youtube.com

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