Find time to volunteer

How to find time and follow through with volunteering

Volunteers pain furniture at Bright Stars Academy during the United Way's Day of Caring.

Published: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 8:52 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 8:52 a.m.

Volunteering is one of the few resolutions that requires only one thing - time.


Tips on how to volunteer

  • Research the causes or issues that are important to you. Look for a group that deals with issues about which you feel strongly.

  • Consider what you have to offer. If you enjoy outdoor work, or have a knack for teaching, you may want to look for a volunteer opportunity in which your special skills can be utilized.
    Similarly, you may want to think about your specific personality and how your organization skills or communication style might fit with different organizations or activities.

  • Think outside the box! Many community groups that are looking for volunteers, such as neighborhood watch programs, prisons, disaster relief organizations, youth organizations, intergenerational programs and park services may not have occurred to you, but could just be the perfect fit.

  • There's no need to wait to be asked. There are many ways to find organizations that are looking for volunteers. Ask your friends or colleagues about their own volunteering activities. The Internet has great online volunteer referral services, such as, or Or try visiting your local volunteer center or United Way.

  • When you find an organization that is in line with your interests, request an interview and plan for it in much the same way that you would plan for a job interview. Be ready to describe your interests, qualifications and background, and also be prepared to ask your interviewers about their organization and the benefits they offer to their volunteers. An interview will allow you and the organization to find the right match for your skills and interests.

  • Would you like to learn something new? Consider whether the organization offers training or professional development opportunities for their volunteers. Volunteering can provide you with the chance to learn about something you're interested in and develop skills in a new area.

  • Find the volunteer activity that fits your schedule. Organizations need different levels of commitment for different types of volunteer activities.

  • Volunteer with friends, co-workers or as a family. Volunteering with others can be a great way to get to know people better and can help keep you excited about volunteering.

  • Virtual volunteering - yes, there is such a thing. If you have computer access and the necessary skills, some organizations now offer the opportunity to do volunteer work over the computer. This can be a great way to get started in volunteering, and can also provide a way to volunteer at home on a flexible schedule.

  • Don't give up! If you find that your volunteering experience is not all that you expected, talk to your volunteer supervisor or coordinator about it. Think of what could make it better and check with them to see if your ideas are possibilities

- Corporation for National & Community Service

Give a Day, Get a Disney Day

For 2010, the first 1 million people who perform a day of volunteer service for a participating organization will receive a free one-day admission ticket to a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park. To sign up and search for a charity in your area, visit

But you don't have to spend it all to help others, said Mindy Underberger, vice president of marketing and communications of the United Way of North Central Florida. "It doesn't take a tremendous amount of time to be a meaningful volunteer. To be a mentor you only have to give one hour. ... You don't have to commit a huge amount of time to make a difference."

The first thing to remember about volunteering is to do something that matters or holds special importance to you. Every cause doesn't involve children, animals or the environment. Take an interest or skill you have and then search for a way to give your time to it. By doing this, you will be more committed and possibly increase your chance of sticking with the volunteer opportunity.

Setting a realistic time schedule is another way to to stay on task of your volunteer goal.

Wendy Spencer, chief executive officer of the Governor's Commission on Volunteerism, suggested starting slow. She said work the volunteer time into your existing schedule and not the other way around.

"Overcommitting may cause you to back off completely," she said. "Take your time and do what you can, that way you haven't set yourself up for failure or won't disappoint the organization."

Spencer said knowing the benefits of volunteering can keep you motivated to do it.

"Remember volunteering is good for your health," Spencer said. "Studies show that it lowers stress, reduces anxiety ... and helps you live longer."

Contact Lashonda Stinson Curry at 374-5038 or

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