Many of us on career breaks have put our various skills to work as volunteers. Sometimes that volunteering becomes a job onto itself. But how do we make it work for us, especially if we’re thinking of relaunching?
The advice at the recent iRelaunch Return to Work Conference was to be a strategic volunteer. If you are thinking about relaunching, the volunteer jobs you take on should be selective. Do work that will put you in a position to meet the right people or that’s worthy resume material. So volunteering in your child’s art class wouldn’t be strategic unless you planned to do something in the art world.
But how do you find strategic volunteer opportunities? One source — Idealist.org. It’s an impressive database of nearly 18,000 volunteer opportunities. Very professional and comprehensive. The site will be relaunching shortly and will allow an individual to post a personal profile for matching with non-profits. Non-profits use the site to post both volunteer and paid positions they are looking to fill. There are more than 5,800 job postings right now, including Executive Director of the Michigan Humanities Council and a Citizen Outreach Director at Work for Progress in Seattle.
You may also have a local database where you live. I live in Fairfax County, Virginia and can search for opportunities through Volunteer Fairfax.
“For more than 35 years, Volunteer Fairfax has been the heart of volunteering in Fairfax County,” according to the website. “With a personal touch, the Center matches the skills and interests of volunteers and donors to the needs of local nonprofit organizations, helping to build a better community through service.”
You select a location, type in a few keywords about what your skills such as “marketing” or “editing,” and a listing of opportunities pops up.
I put in “writing/editing” and got this posting for Childhelp Children’s Center of Virginia:
“Volunteers are needed to assist on numerous projects in the following areas: public relations, grant writing, research, fundraising, accounting, training and various projects such as Thanksgiving Baskets and Christmas gifts for children in need. Good organizational and time management skill are a must. Volunteers with experience in Word, Excel, Publisher and Power Point are highly desired. The volunteer must have good communication skills and the ability to work cooperatively with professionals. Volunteers must go thorough an interview process and background checks.”