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How to Get Unstuck from a Volunteer Rut

If you’ve been volunteering in the same capacity, at the same place, or with the same people for an extended period of time, the rewarding aspect of the process can start to wane, and volunteering can start to feel like a dead-end job. But you don’t necessarily have to quit to find a better fit.

Try a new avenue.

Sometimes a change of venue is just the right remedy for volunteer burnout. If you’re volunteering in an office, maybe it’s time to get outdoors and try an outdoor volunteer opportunity. The National Park Service offers a variety of opportunities to make our great places better. Still using the professional skills you developed years ago? Maybe it’s time to volunteer in a way that trains your brain a completely different way. Volunteering to help seniors might be a great way to take a break from volunteering to help local youth, and vice versa.

Give it a different spin.

Most volunteer organizations and opportunities aren’t singularly focused. Whether you’re on the front lines helping the community, or working behind the scenes to provide the resources your fellow volunteers need, there’s likely room for upward and/or lateral mobility. Your supervisor can help you discuss other opportunities within your organization, perhaps on a trial basis, before you make the leap.

Break it up.

If you feel like you’re putting in too many hours of work for the amount of impact you’re making as a volunteer, you can always scale back on your existing obligations and try out multiple, smaller volunteer opportunities at the same time. Instead of spending the entire day at the food pantry, for example, you could spend a few hours volunteering there in the morning, then try tutoring in the afternoon, or caring one-on-one for a senior citizen in need. You can also make a big difference as a volunteer when you give a full-time caregiver a much-needed rest.

Mix it up.

Sometimes the best way to make a change is to think, and actually go, outside the box, in which case these unconventional volunteer opportunities may be appealing. Still not sure what to do? Try these ideas and articles for volunteer inspiration, or get a head start on a self-directed community project with these do-it-yourself project guides. And don't forget to take advantage of Create the Good's volunteer opportunity finder!

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