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How to Embrace Skills-Based Volunteering to Improve Your Community

Skills-based volunteering is a type of volunteer work that involves the use of specialized talents, certifications, or resources. This work can take many forms, such as a handyman rebuilding damaged infrastructural damage from a flood, an artist selling their work for charity, or a lawyer offering their services pro bono. Skills-based volunteer work could also be done on one’s personal time or during work, on a local or international level, short-term or long-term. Additionally, it may involve talents or resources used in a professional or hobbyist capacity.

Who Can Pursue Skills-Based Volunteering?

As previously mentioned, skills-based volunteering can be pursued with both professional and extracurricular skills. Therefore, conceivably, anyone is capable of getting involved with skills-based volunteering.

However, some individuals may have more opportunities open to them. For example, people who have completed higher levels of formal education, or certain types of professionals such as healthcare workers, lawyers, and handymen, may have more skills that are applicable to volunteer work. Furthermore, some communities will have more need for volunteer assistance, and some people may otherwise have limited access to communities that could benefit from their help.

The Benefits of Skills-Based Volunteering

Skills-based volunteering isn’t just beneficial to the people that volunteers help; it can also be highly beneficial to the volunteers themselves. Ways that volunteers can benefit from their work and experience include:

Ideas to Find Skills-Based Volunteering Opportunities

Although finding opportunities for skills-based volunteer work is easier for some than others, there are always options available to you, regardless of what your skills are and what your general situation is. A few ways you can find opportunities are:

  • Ask friends and family;
  • Attend community events;
  • Research non-profit organizations;
  • Post an offer to lend your services online;
  • Think of individuals in your community that you already know.

However, there are a few tips that will be helpful to keep in mind when you are pursuing these opportunities, such as:

  • Proceed safely. Always be cautious of the situation, especially if you pursue it on a freelance basis.
  • Consider what your personal values are. This may help you determine what non-profit you may want to reach out to, or how you may be most invested in helping your community. Even if you are unsure how your skills may be helpful, you might be surprised if you reach out.
  • Be polite and consider the dignity of others. Some may find it embarrassing to accept help or that you think they need help. Consider this when approaching others with an offer of assistance.

Learn New Skills

Another way you can expand your opportunities for skills-based learning is to expand your skillset. Doing so can also be very beneficial for self-improvement and career opportunities. For example, you could learn a language to help refugees in your community, or you could get a CNA certification to help frontline health workers and volunteer at other local healthcare organizations. CNAs play an essential role in facilities ranging from hospitals to senior living communities, so there is a persistent need for certified individuals and volunteers to meet the range of needs for caregivers.

Develop Skills Professionally

You can also develop skills within your workplace. This is a great option because it is an opportunity to both advance your career and expand your opportunities to help others. For instance, given the previous example of CNA certification, those who already have a CNA certification could work to transition into an LPN or RN role. The associated skills will then provide you with more opportunities for volunteer work.

Reach Out to Local Organizations

As mentioned, it can be very helpful to start by choosing an organization that appeals to you, especially if they have a local branch. Once you have identified promising organizations, try reaching out to them, whether that’s through email or by personally visiting an office of operations. Let them know that you are interested in volunteering for their organization, and describe any skills that you would be willing to put at their disposal.

Search Online

The internet is a great resource for people searching for volunteering opportunities. In addition to joining local groups online, posting volunteering offers, or researching individual organizations, there are many websites that can help connect prospective volunteers with compatible organizations, such as:

Work With Your Employer

Some workplaces may be amenable to assisting your ambitions for volunteer work. Ways that you can utilize workplace resources in order to get involved in skills-based volunteer work include:

  • Asking your HR department about any current connections your company has or has had with volunteer organizations;
  • Bringing suggestions of specific volunteer opportunities to your HR department;
  • Asking coworkers about organizations they know of or are involved with.

In short, skills-based volunteer work is an opportunity that everyone has to improve themselves and the lives of others at the same time.

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