Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to volunteering. Some folks come to the volunteering experience to share their expertise; others want to learn something new as they're helping others. Either way, there are almost as many kinds of volunteer activities as there are people to do them. Enthusiasm counts almost as much as experience in most volunteer jobs, and plenty of organizations need help.
For example, if you want to help older people, AARP Foundation and AARP offer a myriad of opportunities. You can help older people update their driving skills through the AARP Driver Safety program. If you’re more of a numbers person, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is always looking to add to its 35,000 volunteer corps. If you’re not sure which nonprofit in your community could use your assistance, guidance is available from AARP Create the Good.
Of course, some people are happier helping four-legged friends, and there are opportunities galore out there. Love dogs? Consider volunteering at a local shelter. Want to help horses? You can do almost anything, from pitching out stalls to teaching low-income kids to ride or putting on horse art shows. Interested in something even bigger? You can help landscape elephant sanctuaries and prepare their food or care for rescued elephants in Sri Lanka.
Actually, way beyond the sky is literally the limit — amateur astronomers all over the world help scientists track and map stars.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which keeps track of volunteer efforts in the U.S., food-based activities and fundraising are the most popular activities: 22 percent of volunteers engage in one or the other. Religious organizations draw the most volunteers, followed by educational or youth service organizations.
There’s an almost equal split between volunteers on how they got involved in volunteering: 41.6 percent got involved after the organization asked them to help, and 42.1 percent became involved on their own initiative.
What’s certain is that very few organizations ever have enough volunteers, and they are always looking. If you’re not yet one of the 64.5 million Americans who volunteers, why not consider it now?