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Make Contact

These days, finding the perfect organization is just a click away. Websites like VolunteerMatch.org, ChicagoVolunteer.net and AllforGood.org are among the many networking resources that can narrow down the nonprofit world and guide your search for an organization that's right for you.

Once you've chosen one, reach out! Start by checking the nonprofit's website for contact information, Kathleen says. She suggests treating the organization like a job opportunity. Before your first meeting, learn as much about their work as you can. By getting comfortable with the organization's mission, size, location and requirements, you'll be as prepared as possible for all that's to come.

Keep Realistic Expectations

Remember that baby steps are essential to achieving the larger goal. "You aren't going to be able to solve a problem in your first meeting," Kathleen says. "Keep your expectations real and keep them honest."

So while you may not feel like you've changed the world in an afternoon, you never know when your act of volunteering will alter another person's life forever.

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