Opportunities and examples of volunteerism exist all around you. National, international, and local volunteer experiences turn small acts into a big impact.
Examples of Volunteerism in the Professional Sector
If you are a credentialed professional, look for an opportunity to share your abilities and skills with others as a form of giving back to the community.
Doctors, Nurses, and Other Certified Medical Specialists
Consider donating your time or expertise to help ensure medical needs are met in your neighborhood or around the world. Services include everything from helping at a flu shot clinic to providing annual physicals.
Places you can look for volunteer opportunities in the medical field include:
- The hospital where you have privileges
- A medical charity such as Doctors Without Borders
- A local health clinic
- Local scout troops or similar organizations
- Disaster relief organizations
Teachers and Child Care Experts
Certified teachers and trained child caregivers can extend their reach to at-risk youth or disadvantaged populations by:
- Running an after school program
- Tutoring at a local library or kid's club
- Providing classes in a disadvantaged area
- Working overseas teaching English and literacy
Other Professional Opportunities
Use your professional training to help others pro bono or volunteer with an organization, like the American Red Cross, which will train you in the necessary skills.
- Accountants and finance professionals can volunteer with government programs like the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs where under-served communities get free help filing their taxes.
- Help children and adults with life-threatening illnesses and low incomes get to specialist appointments by using your skills as a licensed pilot to fly for organizations like Wings Flights of Hope.
- Hairdressers and barbers can offer free haircuts to the homeless or low-income families on a monthly or quarterly basis.
- Join the volunteer-run board for a local nonprofit or school to put your executive leadership skills into action for a good cause.
- Event planners can choose one annual nonprofit event fundraiser to donate their organizational and networking talents to.
- Animal shelters find professional photographs help animals find homes faster, so professionals in this field can volunteer to take animal portraits on a regular basis.
Ways to Find a Volunteer Opportunity
The best ways to find your ideal volunteer opportunity are to check with large, popular organizations dedicated to a field you're interested in or look around your neighborhood to find local examples of volunteerism.
Whether it's Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Earth Scouts, or something in between, scouting organizations are run almost entirely by volunteers. Programming provided by scouts include both indoor and outdoor experiences.
Organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of America rely on volunteer mentors, coaches, and tutors to provide many of their youth services. Specific programs vary by location, so contact the club nearest to you and find out what kind of help they need.
The Red Cross is purportedly the largest volunteer organization in the United States. Not only do they provide opportunities to train people in life saving techniques, they also respond to natural disasters and provide emergency relief in the US and abroad.
Your Local Hospital or Nursing Home
You can visit residents in the nursing home, cuddle preemies, or volunteer to play games with children who are in the hospital for lengthy stays. Programs vary from hospital to hospital, but if you have a great idea, run it by the volunteer coordinator.
Food Pantry or Bank
Help stock shelves and dole out dinners to low-income individuals at the local soup kitchen. If you're a great cook, you can help make the meals for weekly in-house dinners. If you're just great at talking with and serving others, you can help people grab their allotted pantry staples.
Animal Rescue Organization
Active volunteers take dogs for long walks to get them exercise and teach them proper walking behaviors before they head off to their new home. Volunteers also clean cages, greet customers, and transport animals to and from the local veterinarian.
Finding Opportunities Online
If you're not sure where to start, there are a lot of opportunities listed in searchable databases.
- Volunteer Match.org allows you to input your location and a keyword to find a good match.
- If you love being outdoors Volunteer.Gov is a searchable database of opportunities pertaining to caring for national parks and forests.
- The Peace Corps not only has the benefit of having been around forever, but you can also volunteer and get part of your federal college loans canceled.
Give the Gift of Time
Next time you head out to a community event or take a walk through town, think about how many volunteers provide services in your area. Consider your unique set of skills and see where you fit in as a volunteer.