How to Give (and Get) the Most as a Volunteer

Continuing our thanksgiving preparations, consider volunteering.

Glenn Ruffenach, in the Wall Street Journal, offers good advice for retirees (or anyone) thinking about giving time, and not just money, to a charitable cause.

Put yourself first. Mr. Ruffenach says, "a big incentive for many people—and what keeps them coming back—is what they get from the work, whether it’s a chance to go behind the scenes at the local theater, or friendships with fellow volunteers, or pats on the back."

As obvious as it may be, different types of volunteer work offer different benefits for the volunteer. Some are extremely social opportunities. Others are behind-the-scenes. Consider your own preferences. Are you more of an extrovert? Seek an outward facing opportunity that exhilarates! Are you more quiet? Take that into consideration.

Consider your experience. Many non-profit organizations need people with business acumen and skills that you might take for granted. Creating and keeping a budget is important for every non-profit, as is dealing with vendors and clients. Organization dynamics are complicated in small non-profits just as they are for large companies; and your experience can help in ways that are more than just the most obvious volunteer opportunities.

As you look for volunteer opportunities, think about what kind of relationships would be beneficial to you. What kind of activities are rewarding? Find a way to spend your time with the people you love doing activities you are passionate about, and the volunteer opportunities will follow!

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