Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

“AM I DOING THIS VOLUNTEER THING RIGHT?”

Whether you’re new to volunteering or it’s ingrained in your daily life, making the biggest impact with your service, and getting the most out of it, are both the result of finding the right fit. The following self-assessment exercises can help you determine whether you’re on the right path, or whether you’d be better served by shifting your focus.

What did you want to be when you “grew up”?

Start your assessment by going back to your roots. The beauty of volunteering is the freedom of choice. This is your chance to do what you’ve always wanted to do—to focus your extra time and talents on something that makes you truly happy. So think back to when you were young. Did you want to be a teacher, a firefighter or perhaps a professional athlete? You might love tutoring, volunteering at your local fire department, or helping out your local sports team.

Do you like working with people, or alone?

When you have a spare moment, do you think about curling up with a book, or phoning a friend? Finding satisfaction in your volunteer role is in many ways dependent on finding the right fit for your personality. If you’re working alone on volunteer projects and wish you could be chatting with others in a more social setting, it may be time to make a change.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This common work interview question is equally applicable to your volunteer assessment. Take an honest look at what you’re doing now as a volunteer. Would you be happy in this role for the next few years? Would you rather have more of a managerial responsibility, or more individual freedom? Is your existing organization providing you with the resources you need to reach your goals? All of these questions can help you confirm whether you’re on the right path.

Have you dabbled in anything different?

Other than personal commitments you’ve made to your role or your organization, there’s nothing stopping you from asking about different opportunities, taking on a second volunteer role if you have time, or trying your hand at something completely different based on your skills. Take a moment to think about what else is out there that might give you joy. It may help reinforce the benefit of your current role, or inspire you to at least research something else.

Are you growing and meeting your full potential?

You’ve got a lot to offer. Your volunteer role should reflect your talents, skills and willingness to learn. Do you feel you’re being fully utilized as a volunteer? Are you continuing to discover new and interesting things about yourself, others and the world? Are you satisfied with the challenge your role represents?

Put your role on a scale

As a final exercise, take out a piece of paper and a pen and draw a large “T.” On the left side, list the Top 5 things about your current volunteer role. On the right side, list your five least-favorite things. This also works for comparative analysis when considering a new role in the volunteer realm. Take a good look at what makes you happy vs. the challenges you face, and you’ll quickly discover whether now is the time to make any changes.

When you’re all done taking your self-assessment, take a moment to browse the many volunteer opportunities in your area using this simple volunteer search.

Share This Article


Develop new skills in 5 minutes, an hour or a week


Pay it forward as a mentor


Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

CONTINUE CANCEL