Thursday February 22, 2024
Finding Volunteer Opportunities
For many retirees, finding a volunteer opportunity that meets your interests, utilizes your talents and fits your availability can be challenging. To help you find interesting and satisfying volunteer opportunities, here are some tips and online tools that can help your search.
Volunteering is a great way for retirees to make a positive contribution to their community, stay actively engaged and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But how can you find the right opportunity for you?
Start by asking yourself some basic questions like: What types of organizations or activities are you interested in? What kind of skills can you offer to a volunteer organization? How much time are you willing to give? What do you want to gain from your experience (i.e., meet new people, learn new skills, help those in need, exposure to a particular issue)? Once you get a general idea of the volunteer work you would like to do, there are dozens of volunteer websites that can help you search for different opportunities locally or virtually.
Most websites work like search engines. You can narrow your search by choosing an area of interest and your location. The websites will give you a list of opportunities to review and a brief description of the role. Prior to choosing a website, it is important to thoroughly review and research the volunteer website to ensure legitimacy before committing to any volunteer positions.
General volunteer websites: General volunteer websites allow you to explore a wide range of volunteer opportunities in your local community. Volunteer opportunities found on these websites can serve diverse causes relating to children, animals, seniors, education, health, the arts and more. These websites can be found through a simple online search.
Retired volunteer websites: There are also websites designed specifically for retired individuals. If you are interested in opportunities for retirees, a good option is AmeriCorps Seniors (AmeriCorps.gov/serve/americorps-seniors), which matches retirees with community projects and organizations that need experienced volunteer help.
AmeriCorps Seniors offers three different programs. RSVP has a variety of volunteer activities with flexible time commitments. The Senior Companion Program brings together volunteers with homebound seniors who have difficulty with day-to-day living tasks. The Foster Grandparent Program matches volunteers with children in the community that have exceptional needs.
Niche volunteer websites: There are also websites to help you look for specific types of volunteer opportunities in your area. For example, to find natural and cultural volunteer opportunities in places like national and state parks, see Volunteer.gov. If you are interested in emergency preparedness and disaster response volunteer services, try Ready.gov. For longer-term volunteer opportunities check out AmeriCorps.gov which offers three-month to two-year programs in the U.S. and abroad.
Professional volunteer websites: If you have expertise in areas like business planning and development, marketing, communications, finance, fundraising, web and graphic design or writing and editing, there are online platforms that can connect you with organizations in need of your skills. Alternatively, you can help entrepreneurs and small business owners through specific volunteer mentoring programs. Use search engines to look for these websites utilizing keywords like "professional volunteer opportunities".
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.