by Robin Popik, owner/founder of Volunteer Strategies Solutions
Where to start?
Think about it. You’re retired and finally have time to do what you want to do, but what exactly is that? Becoming a volunteer sounds nice, but where should you look? How do you find the right volunteer opportunity, “the right fit”? To get a little closer answer the following questions?
- What am I passionate about?
- How much time am I willing to share?
- When am I available?
- Do I want to use my business skills or do something completely different?
- How far am I willing to drive?
- What are the benefits?
Passion and Mission:
Make a list of organizations whose mission connects with your passion. Look online to learn more about their short and long-term goals – how do you feel about them, is it still a match?
Ask people you know what they’ve heard about the organization; do they know someone who volunteers there? Maybe you’ve been to a fundraising event or another activity. How was it organized? What did you like or dislike about it? If you are impressed with what you learned about the organization, lout look for a list of volunteer opportunities on their website and a way to sign-up.
Time, Availability and Location:
Retirees are busy, if you’re not now, wait and you will be. Whether you’re taking classes, babysitting, going to the gym or catching up on reading, time seems to slip away just as it did when you were working.
So how much time are you willing to give and when is your schedule free to volunteer? On average organizations ask people to volunteer 4 hours once or twice a week. If you are looking at a board position remember to count in meetings, projects and responsibilities. You may also want to add in driving time if you find an organization that is not close to your home.
Business Skills or Something Completely Different
This may sound like a simple question, but believe me it’s not. Ask yourself, do you want to use your business and leadership skills during retirement? If yes, then consider sharing your LinkedIn profile with the organizations you’ve chosen and see where there might be a match.
But let’s say you decide you want to do something completely different, like walking dogs, reading to children, helping in a kitchen or being a docent, then share that with the volunteer coordinator. But what if the organization needs your business skills – then what? You’ve already vetted the organization and really like them, you don’t want to keep looking, but you also don’t want to go back to work!! Let them know how you feel, remember this is your time and your passions. If you decide it might be something you’re willing to do, take your time to think about it.
Benefits To Both You And The Organization
You may hear people say that volunteering is “free Labor”… well, I have to disagree. It’s a labor of love that you share with the organization. Whatever you choose should be something you feel passionate about. Keep in mind, like a job, it’s important to find the right fit so don’t rush it. A wrong fit can easily cause frustration for you and the organization. But knowing your interests, skills and timeframe will help you find “the right fit” to make volunteering meaningful for both you and the organization.
Here are a few volunteer websites to get started…
Robin Popik, an experienced leader and trainer, is the owner/founder of Volunteer Strategies Solutions, an organization dedicated to helping individuals and companies build resilient volunteer programs. Robin worked for the City of Plano, Texas as the Volunteer Resources Supervisor for more than 27 years, creating numerous award-winning programs. She excels at management and strategic planning of meaningful community engagements; program development, design and expansion; increasing the power of partnerships; and program marketing and analysis. She holds a Master’s in Non-Profit Management and is here to help you with all your volunteer needs.