Today’s teen volunteers are tomorrow’s nonprofit leaders. While identifying the right organization for you might feel overwhelming, it is really simple. Follow these easy steps to find your do good adventure:
Pick your passion. Your first step is to ask yourself a few simple questions. What is really important to you? Animals? Music? Sports? Literacy? Who do you want to help? Kids? Seniors? Folks with disabilities? There are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States. Chances are, whatever your interest, there is an organization for you.
Select an organization. Your goal at this stage of the process is to find an organization that matches your interests and at which you can have an impact. Use word of mouth or one of the searchable data bases listed on our “Books and Web-sites” page to find an organization that is right for you.
Do due diligence. Ask your friends and family if they know anything about the organization where you are thinking of volunteering. You might want to attend an orientation session or meet with an organization’s volunteer coordinator before committing. Find out what is expected of you in terms of time and responsibilities. Make sure that the projects you will be working on will be meaningful for you. Your goal at this stage is to find an organization where you believe in the mission, would be comfortable spending your time and has needs that mesh with your schedule.
- Once you choose an organization or project you will be expected to do your job in a timely manner. Nonprofits rely heavily on volunteer labor and need volunteers to honor their commitments. Yes, sometimes emergencies arise, but if volunteers don’t take their responsibilities seriously, the work of an organization will be hampered.
- Try to step in to help whenever you can, even if it isn’t in your job description. You may sometimes be asked to complete assignments that are tedious. Keep in mind that every assignment helps the organization further its mission and do important work in your community.
- Get to know your supervisor and/or staff liaison. In any business structure, open lines of communication are very important.
- Most importantly, enjoy your volunteer experience!
Spread the word. Once you are involved in an organization or project you like, let others know. Teens are four times more likely to volunteer if asked; so ask them! Don’t forget to enter the Do Good Drawing for a chance to win money for your organization.