5 ways to start your volunteering journey!
Volunteering is a great way to gain new skills and gain valuable experience that can help you now and throughout your career. We’ve all thought about volunteering at some point in our lives but it can feel overwhelming knowing where to start or how volunteering actually works. So, we’ve put together our top 5 tips to help you get started on your volunteering journey!
Choose how you want to volunteer
There are loads of different ways you can volunteer so you can be sure to find something that suits you.
Remote volunteering has become increasingly popular and many charities really benefit from remote help. The type of volunteering ranges from training to be an online counsellor to helping charities with their social media presence. Wherever your digital skills lie, there is a remote volunteering opportunity to suit you!
Charities often rely on university ambassadors to help them raise their profile on campus. Alternatively, many nonprofits need ambassadors to campaign on their behalf through direct action. The sustainable non-profit Ecosia has a range of student ambassadors that campaign for environmental good in many university campuses across the UK and Europe. You can see more about their work in this video and on their Instagram page.
Most charities have a physical presence at sporting events and they always need volunteers to help raise their profile. Food banks are great places to find volunteer opportunities - you can find a full list of food banks in the UK here. Most countries will have their own databases of food banks that can be found online.
Choose your commitment level
It’s important that you’re aware of your availability and schedule and choose a level of commitment to volunteering that is sustainable. We’ve listed the three main commitment types below, but a lot of charities and organisations are flexible and you’ll definitely be able to find something that suits you and your schedule!
Regular volunteering e.g. once a week
Long-term volunteering e.g. a 1 month workaway
One off volunteering e.g. working at an event
Now you know what type of volunteering you’re interested in and how committed you can be, it’s time to find a charity to help! It can be overwhelming to choose from the many charities that exist, so we suggest following one of these 3 routes:
Research charities whose causes interest you: for example, maybe you care about animals or the environment
Research charities in your local area: local community centres are always in need of volunteers
Once you’ve found your charity, make sure you’re aware of all necessary resources. For example, some charities require remote volunteers to have a personal laptop and others require a driving licence.
Still unsure? Reach out to people who have done it before!
Follow charities on social media and LinkedIn to see testimonials from other volunteers. If possible, you can even reach out to past volunteers through these channels to ask them for more information about their role and the charity itself. It’s normal to feel nervous about volunteering, but once you start you’ll soon feel comfortable, especially as you know you’ll be making a real difference to the lives of others! Volunteering is also a great way to meet new, like-minded people and improve your networking skills.
Keep track of what you’ve learnt
Volunteering will teach you loads of great transferable skills that will look great on your CV and help you in your career journey. Who knows, you may even find your next career move through your volunteering experience!
Make sure you keep track of the tasks you’re doing and what they’ve taught you - you can do this in rough notes as you volunteer and then write it up for your CV at a later date. The more you jot down as you go along, the easier the CV writing process will be later on!
We hope these tips have inspired you to start your own volunteering journey!