You may be surprised by what you’re about to read, but your volunteering journey actually starts long before you officially find the right place, cause, or organization that’s right for you.
Wanting to make a difference somehow, somewhere, is the very first step you’ll take to embark on this life changing journey. Just by reading these lines, the journey has started.
The next step is to acquire a sense of direction. To explor volunteering opportunities without the right set of questions is like attempting to find a needle in a (very) large haystack. But whether you’ll be volunteering from home or abroad, when heading out on an exciting new path these questions will serve as your useful tour guide that will direct you towards an accomplished and meaningful volunteering experience.
How to Volunteer?
The trick with choosing the right volunteering program or opportunity is first ask yourself what goals you are looking to accomplish through this experience? These answers will be the stepping stones for your journey. How can you decide on your volunteering goals? Well, let’s see:
What cause do you care about?
This is first and most crucial question of your adventure, and one that only you can answer. We are all moved by different things, and now is the time to focus on your own drive: education, wildlife, children, enviroment - what is it that gets you going?
What makes you feel accomplished?
Personality and drive go a LONG way in the volunteering world, so start by asking yourself what makes you feel fulfilled. Let your dreams lead the way, not just your resume: matching between skill, need, and WILL means that the smallest contribution can have a huge impact. Think what you can give and get that would make you the happiest - that would make your program targeting both accurate and rewarding.
Which travel destination do you want to explore?
If you’ve ever dreamed about a exploring a Tiger Reserve in a Wildlife Conservation Project in India, or rather wanted to teach a class in a South African Community Development Program, here’s your chance to act on it. Which location has been on your mind? That’s where you should start exploring.
For how long do you want to volunteer/ When is the best time to volunteer?
Are you a summertime-outdoorsy kind of person or is the wintertime that suits your travels best? Do you have a time-frame you want to make meaningful? Are you looking to get away for a while or rather trying to squeeze in a short, but valuable contribution?
However you look at it, time is actually a crucial factor to be taken into account before setting the volunteering wheels into motion: how long would you like to volunteer for, and when you would like to start would definitely affect where you will end up traveling to.
So while there’s no right/wrong here, it is important to plan ahead as much as possible. Remember: dedication isn’t measured through duration! A longer stay doesn’t necessarily mean a more profound contribution. Think through how much time you are able to dedicate to your volunteer journey and to fulfill your commitment to the chosen project; leaving early can do more harm than good. Your volunteering can be just a few days or over a year -try and make your time evaluation as honest as possible.
Now that you have the answer for the 4 volunteering basics, it’s time to choose an organization!