Things to Consider Before You Volunteer

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In it’s simplest concept, volunteering is an amazing experience and is easy to do. There are so many causes and opportunities available these days, it seems that there really is something out there to suit everyone. There are, however, some things that should be given a lot of thought before making a commitment to volunteering:

Time: Be honest with yourself. How much time of yourself can you really give? Don’t forget to consider other commitments apart from your day job, such as family, friends, hobbies, exercise, down-time. 

Location: Where will you need to travel to? If its, say, an hour away, you need to add this to your time and financial (petrol, wear and tear on the car, etc) commitment.

The organisation: Things to consider are the size of the  organisation, the dynamics, roles available, funding, structure, diversity, politics, and so on. 

Values: Compare your values to the organisations values – they need to match.

What you want to do, or – what are you passionate about doing: This is really important! You don’t want volunteering to become a chore. If you are doing something you want to do and are good at, you will happy and you will make more of a difference!

Try before you buy: More often then not you can approach an organisation to sit in on a meeting, or to put in a few hours in order to gauge if the place is the right fit (from both points of view).

Have you had any experience with volunteering?

If so, what do you think are some of the things people should consider before volunteering?


10 thoughts on “Things to Consider Before You Volunteer

  1. Our rule is volunteer for 4 hours a month, minimum. That includes travel time. So, when time is at a premium, our efforts are local. When we can give more time, we either provide the whole day or travel longer distances.
    We only volunteer for those activities that are in concert with our vision! Period AND exclamation point.

  2. I once went on a volunteer program where a couple of volunteers were getting uncomfortable with the children with Down Syndrome. If you can’t handle the atmosphere, just don’t be there. Simple. It is very rude and such behavior is absolutely unacceptable. Being in the mental health sector I always went to volunteer for such programs and unfortunately always met a “volunteer” who didn’t know what they were getting into and just made it uncomfortable for the whole lot. The children and their parents don’t need your pity, if you are not prepared, just go back home. That is the only suggestion I have.

  3. *The Organization!!* I want to shout it out, but I feel that using all caps would be rude. =P When I first arrived in Peru for the internship, the other Canadian intern and I were swept up in tons of drama. Needless to say, we weren’t happy with the ethics of the organization. This is exactly why I love how you mention “Try before you buy.” There are a lot of volunteer organizations that have the nicest facades, but evil is lurks within!!

  4. This is such a timely blog post for me because I live in tornado-ravaged Alabama. People are all trying to volunteer and trying to figure out where their skills can best be used. I say, go with something that’s a good “fit” for your skills and ability.

  5. I say when your intuition calls you, DO IT!

    Though I must say that Roy’s feedback was inspirational. Actually scheduling volunteer time? The world would be such a wonderful place if we all thought this way!

    I NEVER have time to volunteer since I am a single mom living in the jungle. However, my intuition doesn’t take that into account. If I come across a cause I know that I can help to further, that gets my intuition’s attention … I’m there!

    Never ignore your intuition! Even when the experience feels “evil” there is always a reason my intuition called me forth to serve.

    Seems like sometimes the message is “do good without judgment”

    It also helps to remember that everything has a reason or a season, or it will be lasting through out your lifetime! Volunteering is an awesome way to spend your time!

    Thanks for this post! It speaks volumes of the quality of your character! Good on ya!

    Many blessings

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