What Kind of Work Do You Want to Do?
Kathleen says you should decide whether you'd prefer to do direct service work or to have an internal role within the organization.
Either way, don't stop short of finding a match that benefits the agency and makes best use of your talents. Volunteering is about creating a relationship, Robert says, and in every relationship, success comes from being passionate and engaged.
What Is Your Availability?
Think critically about how much time you can actually offer. Short-term, skilled projects are a great starting point. Robert says that can mean one-day events or those carried out over a week or two. These can give you an intense look into what the organization does and how it's run. Afterward, there's time to evaluate the experience before you sign on to a larger project.
Kathleen says people too often underestimate how large a commitment it can be to join a volunteer program. Others resort to community service to fill a gap between jobs but fail to inform the agencies that they might not stick around. "People think they can pop in whenever they have some free time, but a volunteer is just like a staff position," Kathleen says. "The organizations need to depend on an ongoing time commitment."