One of the most rewarding relationships you can create in your life is volunteering with a nonprofit organization. To get the most out of your volunteering experience, it is critical to find a nonprofit that can use your skills and gifts to enhance and expand their reach in the community.
Many nonprofits are eager to work with those that bring business skills and knowledge to their groups. Study after study has shown the benefits of volunteering both for the organization and the volunteer. Volunteers are healthier and happier than their non-volunteering counterparts. The key to making it an extraordinary partnership is finding the right organization with which to get involved.
Nonprofits need help this time of year because many of their volunteers have returned to school or college. For many nonprofits, this is the busiest time of year. Their communities need help more than ever because of the challenging economic conditions. Because of the increased demand for services this year, their yearly budgets are starting to run out early. In past year’s economic conditions, most are forced to do more with less. Your time or contribution can make a huge difference to so many, both people and animals.
Now, how do you go about finding the perfect nonprofit for you and your talents and gifts? Making the right decision for you and the nonprofit requires some time and effort, but it’s not difficult. Here are several questions to consider as you begin looking at nonprofits with which to work:
• What is your passion? The first step in identifying the right place for you is to look at what you are passionate about. Do you have a soft spot in your heart for animals? Know someone suffering from a particular illness? Do you want to help those less fortunate? There is no shortage of organizations that need your help. You need to decide who you most want to help.
• Is there a local branch? Once you decide where you want to donate you time, you need to determine how to donate it. Can you work with them online or does the organization need someone that can provide face time? Most organizations can use people both in person and spreading the word online, if that’s where your skills lay.
• What are the politics like? Nonprofits are like any other organization of people. There is frequently a political hierarchy. There are a few people that do most of the work and a few people that get most of the credit. Make sure that you know how the organization is organized and if you can live with the people and politics. It’s one thing to deal with prima donnas for your paycheck. It’s another thing entirely when you are volunteering your time.
• Can you live with doing the worst jobs? Volunteering for a nonprofit isn’t all about the annual charity ball. Sometimes it’s getting down and dirty cleaning the dog kennels or emptying bedpans, or whatever the worst job is for that particular nonprofit. An organization needs people willing to do whatever needs to be done, when it needs to be done. Make yourself an asset and be willing to be the go-to volunteer. Sometimes that means getting dirty. A volunteer that only does the clean jobs isn’t much help at all.
• Are you dependable? Not only do nonprofits need people to do the lousy jobs sometimes, they also need people that follow through and do what they say they’ll do. If you have difficulty following through on commitments, or think, “Hey, it’s not like I’m getting paid to be there,” don’t volunteer and waste everyone’s time.
• Are you willing to take a leadership role? Volunteering is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and expand your skills. Be willing to step up and take on assignments that might be more than you’ve done before. Whoever did the job before you is usually willing to give you a hand in learning the ropes. And just think how that will look on your resume.
• Can you afford to volunteer with that organization? A nonprofit status doesn’t mean no money changes hands. It just means there’s no money left at the end of the year. Some organizations require you to join and pay dues or a membership to help out. With others, some people spend a lot of their own money to make sure the organization can help as many as possible. Do you have the monetary resources to join the group?
These are a few of the questions you can ask yourself to make sure you join the right nonprofit group for you. Many organizations are out there, needing your time and help to succeed in their mission. Find the right group so you both come out winners.