Volunteering in my community has always been an important part of my daily life. To me, it’s not only an opportunity to give back, it’s a way to grow your personal brand and even utilize the skills you use at work for the greater good. But, after moving to DC I struggled to find an organization that would enable me to give back while also using some of the skills I use at work (and love) – such as relationship building, writing and event planning.
Luckily about a year ago I found City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties. As a natural animal lover it made sense for me to volunteer for an animal rescue, but what made even more sense was the opportunity to utilize my communications skills while also being able to utilize them in a different environment outside the workplace. And with the huge dog and cat loving community in DC, it provided and opportunity me to network with local businesses and community members.
After about six months of volunteering I became the rescue’s sponsorship coordinator and go-to media contact (re: on air personality! See below picture). This opportunity has not only brought so much joy into my life by enabling me to give back, it’s created a great new avenue for networking with community members and DC-based media. I’ve been able to refine my relationship building skills by pitching and building new partnerships with local businesses and growing my confidence of public speaking by representing City Dogs Rescue on local TV stations.
Here are some tips for finding the volunteer opportunity that’s right for you and can also tie into your job skills with giving back.
1. Pick your passion. What are you passionate about? Is there a volunteer organization where dedicating a few hours a week won’t feel like work? Once you have thought of one (or more) passions you would like to align your volunteer work with, research some options and see what organizations are out there with a local chapter near you.
2. Find the right opportunity. As you can imagine when I decided to volunteer for a dog rescue there were quite a few to choose from. So, how did I decide to pursue City Dogs Rescue? The organization had opportunities that aligned with my skills and what I thought I could help with the most – from helping with fundraising events to sponsorship opportunities to collaborating with teams for rescue-wide initiatives.
3. Decide how much time you want to commit. Before reaching out to the organization you are most interested in, decide how many hours per week you would like to commit. This will help shape the type of role you can take on and how much time you are able to dedicate without adding too much extra to your plate.
4. Reach out! Find the right contact at the organization and reach out offering your volunteer support. Be sure to clearly state how much time you can commit and the areas you feel where you can help the most.
Once you’ve secured the perfect volunteer opportunity, think of ways you can use it to both utilize your on-the-job skills but also grow them. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to network with potential new colleagues, clients or partners – or it’s a way to improve your writing skills but contributing to the newsletter or other content opportunities.
Do you have a volunteer position that speaks to both your passion and your job skills? I would love to hear about it – tweet at me at @Shan_Feld.