Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and can provide you with enormous personal satisfaction. You can also improve your job prospects by gaining valuable skills and experience within a professional organisation. With so many opportunities out there, it's a good idea to think carefully about what you want to get out of volunteering and what you're willing to commit to before deciding where you should give your time.
Think about why you want to volunteer when trying to find an organisation that suits you. Are you hoping that you'll be able to use your experience to help a charity, or would you like to develop new skills that might be useful to you in the future? If you've got bookkeeping skills, for example, then your services might be really useful to small charities that may not be able to pay a professional to do this job. Or, if you're planning a career in childcare, then volunteer with a local school or nursery.
What kind of tasks would you like, or be prepared, to do? Would you like to work from home or would you prefer to get out into the community? Once you've identified what you want to do, find a group that will be able to accommodate your wishes. Whatever your preferences are, there will be an organisation which will benefit from your help, although it may take time to find the right one if your requirements are very specific.
Be realistic when thinking about the time commitment you're willing to make. Many organisations will welcome casual volunteers others, however, will need to know when they can rely on your help in order for them to plan their services. Be honest with any organisation you approach about how much time you can give.
Consider which charities or groups that you're interested in helping and then contact them directly to find out more information. Write down any questions you have and ask for a meeting with the volunteer manager. Many towns and cities also have volunteer bureaus that can give you advice if you're not sure where you would like to volunteer.
Once you start looking, you'll be surprised at the number of volunteering opportunities that exist out there. If you have thought about some of the questions above, you should be well on your way to finding the perfect one for you.