Posted by Laurie, Human Resources Manager
A study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that volunteering rates in the U.S. are the lowest they have been since 2002. At Tom’s of Maine our employees are allowed to use 5% of their paid work time volunteering. But we also understand that getting started isn’t always easy. Here are a few simple tips on how to start volunteering.
Tip #1: Focus on the cause first, your skills second
Some online resources can help you find a volunteer opportunity in your community, including volunteermatch.org and idealist.org. But sometimes people can get hung up in finding the perfect match for their expertise. In our experience your skill set is less important than finding an organization that supports a cause you are passionate about. Once you have, contact them directly to let them know you’d like to discuss volunteer opportunities. You might be surprised what you find! Many nonprofits simply don’t have the time or resources to keep volunteer databases updated. And when you are thinking about how to start volunteering, remember that volunteer experiences can be great opportunities to develop new skills, so don’t be afraid to try something new.
Let’s face it – we are all busy. Between work obligations and family obligations it is easy to wonder “when will I have the time to volunteer?” An interesting note – one study found that people who volunteer feel like they have more free time because giving this time away increases a sense of competence and efficiency. These studies aside, speaking directly with the organization is likely to give you a much better sense of how you can fit volunteering into your busy life. Many organizations have opportunities that allow for very limited time and flexible scheduling. In addition, technology is making it easier for people who are wondering how to start volunteering, because volunteering “virtually” opens up many more options for when and where you can volunteer.
Tip #3: Share your experience on how to start voluntering with others
Sometimes people are hesitant to share their volunteer stories because it feels a little bit like bragging. But think of it this way – with all the stories of bad news we get bombarded with every day, doesn’t it make sense to show stories of people working to do good? When our employees share their volunteer stories, one theme comes through over and over – volunteering feels good. Giving your time to a cause bigger than yourself can give a great sense of camaraderie and fulfillment – even when you are volunteering in the pouring rain! When you share your experiences with others – even the challenges that you might have faced getting started – you may be providing the inspiration needed to get others started as well.
We hope those tips help to get you started volunteering! We are always looking for new ways to give back to our communities and love the tips and stories we get from our fans. If you have any other ideas on how to help people get started volunteering be sure to leave them in the comments below.