WHAT VOLUNTEER TYPE ARE YOU?
When you volunteer, you help others, but you also make a positive impact on your own well-being. A study by Harvard University researchers published last year found that people who volunteer as little as two hours per week had a reduced risk of mortality and physical functioning limitations and were generally more active and had better psychosocial outcomes. Another study published in the March 2020 issue of The Journal of Happiness Studies found that people become happier as they volunteer.
The key to having a positive volunteer experience is to find a good fit for the causes about which you care and the skills and interests you have. Here are four types of volunteers. Which one (or more) are you?
The organizer loves to plan events like fundraisers, galas, and drives. Give them a task and they’ll break it down into a list of actions, assign team members to their duties, and stay on top of the details to get the job done. If you’re an organizer, look at needs in the community and at local nonprofits. Does a park or river area need to be cleaned up? Does a charity you love need help planning and promoting an event? If you get satisfaction out of order and progress, look for opportunities that put those skills to work.
If you love inspiring people and helping them face challenges or if you have a vision for a cause that’s important to you, you might be best suited to leadership roles. Volunteers with business or executive experience can be invaluable to nonprofit organizations. Look for opportunities to head a committee or even serve on a board of directors. The right leadership can help organizations raise more funds, attract more volunteers, have greater impact overall.
The Social Butterfly
Volunteering can be a highly effective way to find social connections and make friends. If you’re better one-on-one or in small groups, think about mentoring. Programs like iCouldBe and MENTOR’s virtual mentoring portals have opportunities with young people ages 12 and under and 13+. Know someone who may need public benefits, but doesn’t know how to qualify? AARP Benefits QuickLINK, a webpage sponsored by the AARP Foundation, has a free online tool that compares a user’s income, resources, ZIP code, and monthly expenses to the rules for 15 government programs that help cover the costs of groceries, utilities, health care, and prescriptions. If you’d prefer to work with a group, think about volunteering at a 5K or walk-a-thon, participate in an outdoor volunteer effort, or get together (safely) with family and friends for a group volunteer effort.
If you are most inspired when you’re fighting for a cause or creating positive change, consider an advocacy role. You can take action to fight for social justice and human rights, champion small businesses, take a stand against bullying, or work on issues in your community.
Did you recognize yourself in any of these types? Or maybe you fit in more than one category. Think about the ways you’d like to give back, then visit Create the Good and search for the opportunity that best suits you.