pexels-photo-567459Nearly every nonprofit relies on volunteers. Opportunities to volunteer at nonprofits are highly varied. They can run the gamut from long-term assignments that require volunteers to work directly with others for several months or years to very short-term assignments that can be completed online in just a few moments.

If you are thinking of volunteering, the following is a list of questions that can help you choose an opportunity that’s a good fit for you.

Is this Opportunity a Good Fit with Your Values and Interests?

All of us are more likely to put forth our best effort when the work involves something that we are interested in and passionate about. Before you decide on a volunteer opportunity, it’s a good idea to do some research into the nonprofit organisation to try to discover if you truly are interested in their cause and if your values are in alignment with the nonprofit.

Have You Identified What You Have to Offer and What You Expect to Receive from Volunteering?

While some opportunities to volunteer are open to everyone, others require specific skills or backgrounds. Before you begin your search for a position, it’s a good idea to make a list of the skills and experience that you have so that you will know if you will be a good fit for a particular volunteer position at a nonprofit.

It’s also a good idea to clarify exactly what you want to receive from your volunteer experience. If one of your primary reasons for volunteering is to have greater opportunities to interact with others in person, then it would be best to look for a position that allows you to work directly with your service community in person. A position that allows you to help by working remotely online and with little in person contact may not be so beneficial to your goals.

Do You Have Enough Time?

One area that often derails the best of intentions is attendance and the temptation to overcommit and not be realistic about the time commitment that is involved in volunteering. Before you commit to volunteering, make certain that you have enough free time to commit to the project.

If you don’t, it doesn’t mean that you must give up volunteering completely, but you should adjust the types of volunteer positions that you search for if you don’t have a lot of time to commit. Also, if you have recently suffered a major setback or loss, such as financial difficulties or the death of a loved one, you may be tempted to throw yourself into a whirlwind of activity in order to avoid dealing with the many emotions that difficult times like these are known to stir up.

If this sounds like your situation, it may be better to postpone volunteering, or to take a short break from it for a while and give yourself time to process your grief and to heal before you take a volunteer position.

Take Volunteering One Step at a Time

Many times, you can accomplish more with less. Avoid volunteer opportunities that leave you feeling exhausted and drained, or that put a strain on your personal finances and relationships. You don’t have to give up everything in your life to help others, and you should never allow yourself to be coerced or bullied into accepting a position that you are not prepared to handle. If you are new to volunteering, or are considering working with a new nonprofit that you’ve not dealt with before, don’t be afraid to ease into volunteering.

Take on shorter, easier assignments when you first begin so that you can get a feel for the culture of the organisation and gain a thorough understanding of its values and what it’s about. If it’s a good fit, then you can slowly take on more responsibility and commitment as you gain confidence that you’ve made the right choice.