If you’re going to school, or even if you’re not, it may be difficult to support a cause you’re passionate about because you just don’t have the funds to make a financial donation. Time can also be in short supply, but the good news is that often you don’t need to dedicate a lot of time to volunteering to make a big difference; and your contribution doesn’t have to be hands-on – in fact, many charities really need help with office work such as answering the phone. This can be a great option when class or work makes you feel burnt out, and when physical exercise or tasks involving a large emotional investment may just not be realistic.
If you live in a city, your options are almost limitless. Charities and non-profit organizations of all types will likely have their headquarters in your area. Although the requirements of the volunteer programs of each organization will vary, many will only require one day per month. Students and freelance workers are in particularly high demand for these volunteer positions since the weekday volunteer shifts are often the most difficult to fill. Even in small towns and rural communities you’ll find some sort of central office that could really make use of your organizational abilities.
The type of work you might be assigned in a not-for-profit office environment can vary widely and will largely depend on the organization itself and your skills. Reception duties are often assigned to volunteers, for example. This normally involves answering the phones, transferring calls and greeting incoming visitors. Often the position is not particularly demanding, yet it is essential at the same time. Students often like these types of volunteer positions because when the office isn’t too busy, it’s a great time to catch up on reading. Plus, as staff, volunteers and visitors generally go past the receptionist at least twice in the day, you can get to know others who are interested in the same cause.
Other volunteer positions in a charity office can require more specialized skills. For example, some organizations monitor the media for news about their cause or their organization’s name. Others must print and assemble sponsorship kits and prepare postage. These opportunities are fantastic for students because they allow you to add experience to your resume without having to commit to very many hours; experience you’re very unlikely to get from a part-time job! This means that in addition to doing work for a cause, you also benefit by learning applicable skills that will help you in the job market.
To apply for a volunteer position in an office, you’ll need to contact the volunteer coordinator of the office you wish to work at and find out what you need to submit. Some will ask for a resume, others will be happy for you to simply show up on your first day. Be sure that you ask all of the pertinent questions, in the same way you would if it was a paid position. You want to make sure that the commitment you’re making is the right one for you. Even if you’re only dedicating one day a month, be sure that you will be happy with the arrangement! Ask if there is a dress code, if you can bring your lunch, and what the expectations are. Don’t be afraid to say what you want to get out of the position, either. If you are comfortable with certain responsibilities and not with others, then be explicit about this from the start.
Volunteering to do office work can be very rewarding and is an ideal option for those of us who can’t face a regular commitment that involves a large investment of emotional energy or even a lot of moving around! Look into the opportunities around you, and I’m sure you’ll find that your favorite cause could use your help. The more volunteers the headquarters of your local charity has, the fewer paid staff are required, which means donated dollars go further. One day a month can make a huge difference.