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About Volunteering

Updated on February 9, 2013

Volunteering for a charity or other organization is or can be an interesting experience. In a sense, they are similar to an internship when non-paid. An internship will have you do work focused on what your education is, while volunteering is sometimes based on your past work experience. Both are free employees to the charity or organization. The difference with an internship is that it is more formal and tied to education in progress and probably is graded in some manner. Volunteering is really about you.

People volunteer for all sorts of reasons but the most common are:

  • Unemployed or retired and wanting to keep busy and feel useful
  • Seeking to learn a new skill when you have free time
  • A driving need to help others and feel good about it
  • Hoping that volunteering for an organization leads to a paid position

A person could have all of the above reasons. Organizations love volunteers because they get people who work for free, and as such, volunteers are usually respected by the those who are paid. However, they very seldom ever lead to a paid job with the organization, otherwise, they would have already funded it. They want it to be done for free or not at all. For the volunteer seeking to bide their time between real paying jobs, it helps to keep busy, feel useful, feel important. I mean, otherwise, you would be just be idle. While all of that helps, it is sort of a placebo for your reality, the unemployed. You still seek a real job and will dump volunteering as soon as it occurs.

It is amazing how many people want to volunteer with unemployment so high. Organizations do not beg for them, they can pick and choose many times when many volunteers want a handful of opportunities-just like applying for a job. Volunteering does not always mean it is a guaranteed thing, there is competition. Usually the organization wants to pair skills with their needs and if you learn a new skill while doing it, it will be ancillary to the main function. Volunteering does not mean you can do it when you want, you can do it when THEY need it.

Sometimes, it is the volunteers themselves that are needing help, yet, they seemed to be overlooked. Many counties have a central volunteer center where all organizations wanting volunteers file with them and people are interviewed for them. Those interested indicate what their skills and interests are and the computer DB is used to find a few possible places to contact. These centers are the BEST places to find volunteer positions because of the vast selection. If the positions do not pan out for any reason, the person can return and find others.


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