Current nonprofit sector research and recommendations for effective day-to-day practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.
SOS - Association
Committing to volunteer can end up being the equivalent of a part time job! It can be quite the commitment in addition to your “real job.” As you are doing your research, remember to sign up for a cause you’re passionate about, be realistic about the time commitment you are willing to dedicate to the cause, and research the organization before you sign yourself up. As you’re looking, put forth the same amount of effort into looking for a volunteer position as you would a part time job. A good volunteer posting should include:
- Purpose of the position — how will you, as a volunteer, be working toward the project or organization’s goal?
- Length of the volunteer term — from a few hours to the course of a few years- be sure you know what you are signing yourself up for!
- Location of volunteering — is the project a reasonable distance? Perhaps the project is virtual — virtual volunteering is on the rise (and is commonly listed on volunteer search sites as part of the description) and making it more convenient to volunteer from the comfort of your home or office
- Description of expected duties — be aware of what it is you will be doing. A thorough description should not leave you wondering what exactly is expected of you as volunteer. Look for a list of duties or tasks that match your needs and interests
- Mission/vision of the organization — the description should tell a little bit about the organization, or at least have a website where you can do more research on your own
- Training and qualifications needs — some organizations may require that you go through one of their training courses or come into the position having a certain skill set. Inquire about the qualifications that may be needed for the position before you commit. For example, if working with a youth organization, volunteers may be required to pass a background check and/or drug test.
As you begin your search, keep in mind organizations for which you have been associated with in the past at one point or another. Maybe you participated in a youth organization’s sports league as a child or volunteered at a soup kitchen in college. Can you take that involvement to the next level by volunteering to serve on their board of directors? Serving on a board doesn’t just mean giving financially, but also becoming involved in program development, community relations and networking with likeminded professionals.
As an account executive who serves board members for a living, it is always obvious when I am working with volunteer board members who have bought into the cause by doing their homework on the organization, have a history and passion with the organization, and have the right amount of time set aside each month to focus on the mission of the association.
Good luck finding a volunteer project in which you feel at home!
Ashley is SOS - Association Management Solutions’ newest staff members with 16 years experience in the nonprofit industry. She recently graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies, concentrating in Sociology and Nonprofit Administration. Ashley worked in youth programs for over fifteen years and specializes in event planning, coordinating and motivating volunteers, developing training programs and collaborative leadership initiatives. Ashley is an Arizona native who enjoys cooking, creating and baking as well as yoga and being outdoors in the Arizona sunshine in her spare time.
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Click here to read Sarah Hipolito's post, "Switching gears: How I found my place in volunteering."