But, as with most things in life, you get out of volunteering what you put into it. Here are five surprising ways to approach volunteering—and reap the many rewards.
Live your dream
Whether you love animals, gardening, or sports, there are volunteer opportunities that can keep you close to your passion. Spend your time doing something you really love—like coaching a soccer team or giving tours at the local museum—and you can find a joyful way to give back. To figure out the right fit for you, ask yourself a few key questions to get additional insight.
Try a new adventure
Volunteering can also open doors to new experiences and opportunities. Volunteer at high-profile events to be surrounded by a bit of glamour and excitement. Plan a safe volunteer vacation (each organization will have its own restrictions) or find ways to stretch out of your comfort zone and try something completely different.
Make lifelong friendships
Volunteers like Natalie Fikes and Greg Hazle have found life-changing experiences through their volunteerism. Fikes made a close friend who became like a family member. There are many ways to volunteer and find social connection, too. From helping others with their taxes to mentoring someone who needs advice, check out these eight opportunities to give back and make a few friends along the way.
Build your resume
For volunteers like Hazle, good works can actually lead to a new career path. After he served on the board of a local nonprofit, he was offered a position with the organization. But volunteer work can also help you build your resume, expand your skill set, and make valuable contacts as you help the organization. Search for opportunities to help with everything from social media strategy to HR strategy to fundraising on platforms like Create the Good, Catchafire, and Taproot Foundation.
Do good in minutes
Don’t have a lot of time? You can reap the rewards of volunteering in minutes. Micro-volunteering lets you participate in efforts that you can complete in short bursts. From a simple haircut to participating as a citizen scientist, you can help others in your (limited) spare time.
Think about the change you’d like to welcome into your life, and then find the volunteer opportunities that will help you realize them.