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Volunteering 101

Posted on February 17, 2014
By Nikki Martinez

There’s an itch that keeps growing, a pull on your heart strings that won’t go away: the need to volunteer! I can tell you this, I’m VERY familiar with this feeling, and once it gets you it won’t let go. But that’s not a bad thing. In fact, to be more and more like Christ, it means loving on others the same way Jesus would, and what better way than helping at places that need the help. The question can then become, “Where do I start?” The good thing is answering that question isn’t a difficult process. In fact, the BBB has laid out game plan on how to go-about helping out, whether it be at your church, your child’s school, or anywhere in the East Texas community.

 

Identify your skills.

Volunteering opportunities are available for any skill level. Consider what you’re good at and what services you’d be particularly well-equipped to provide. From stuffing envelopes to construction or even providing pro bono legal advice, you can find a good fit regardless of your education or talents.


Consider your passions. 

Maximize your enthusiasm for volunteering by finding an issue that resonates with your own personal passions. If you’re a runner, consider a marathon fundraiser. If you like history, look for opportunities to help out at an archeological dig.  By identifying your passions, you’re more likely to stay engaged with the charity and be a more effective volunteer.

Determine your availability.

Make a realistic estimate of how much time you’re willing to give. Maybe it’s just a weekend of picking up trash at a park, a week of building schools in a foreign country or maybe you’re willing to make a long-term commitment to tutoring someone to read. It’s better to volunteer the amount of time you can reasonably handle, rather than drop out in the middle of a longer commitment.

Research the charity thoroughly.

Just as you would before making a cash donation, research the charity fully before you volunteer to make sure the organization has a commitment to standards and accountability. You can view BBB Wise Giving Alliance evaluations on nationally-soliciting charities for free at www.bbb.org/charity.

Commit to stick with it.  

Most volunteers don’t have long term goals with charities they work with. Even if your early attempts at volunteering weren’t a good fit, keep at it and look for new opportunities to give back. In a tough economy, charities need the support of volunteers more than ever.

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