Is There a Specific Cause You Care About?

Robert believes the biggest misconception about volunteering is that you just need to show up to succeed. "Showing up isn't the issue," he says. "It's being engaged once you get there."

So he likes to ask new volunteers what they think needs to change in their communities. "That's usually the cause they care about," Robert says.

If you're an animal-lover, consider a zoo or shelter. If you're a political junkie, find a group with similar political goals to your own. You may realize you have your heart set on working with children or that you want to help people with disabilities. What matters most, Robert says, is picking an organization you're excited about.

Do You Want to Volunteer Alone or with a Group of Friends and Family?

Think about getting your family involved in community service—it can make the experience even more powerful. You can teach your children about your values and make service a new family tradition that will continue for years to come.

"The takeaway for kids is the chance to see their parents in this environment of giving, in this environment of action," Robert says. Children, he says, can learn through volunteering that they have the power to make positive change.


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