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Factors for prospective volunteers to consider

Volunteering is a wonderful way for people of all ages to give back to their communities. While volunteers generally offer their time and skills in an attempt to help others, volunteering also helps the volunteers in various ways.

According to Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization focused on improving the lives and prospects of children and their families, studies have shown that adolescents who volunteer are less likely to become pregnant or use drugs than teens who do not volunteer. In addition, Child Trends notes that kids who are involved in community service or volunteer in political activities are more likely than non-volunteers to have a strong work ethic as adults.

And the benefits of volunteering are not exclusive to youngsters. A 2013 study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that adults over 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely than non-volunteers to develop high blood pressure. That's a significant finding, as high blood pressure has been linked to both heart disease and stroke.

Finding the right volunteering opportunity can make the experience of volunteering even more enjoyable. When examining potential volunteering opportunities, prospective volunteers can consider a host of factors to find the right fit for them.

Personal interests

Would-be volunteers who can find a way to align their personal interests or hobbies with a volunteering opportunity may enjoy their efforts more than if no such connection exists. For example, current or former athletes may enjoy coaching a local youth sports league, while amateur or professional cooks and chefs may enjoy the chance to prepare meals at local food banks or convalescent homes.

Professional experience

Prospective volunteers may find volunteering more rewarding if they can combine their professional experience with their philanthropic efforts. Many charitable organizations are in need of operational help that helps them manage their day-to-day efforts smoothly. Experienced professionals may be able to fill these valuable roles. Accountants can offer to help organizations balance their books, while professional fundraisers may be able to help organize events for charities looking to raise money to meet their missions.

Time

Time is another important factor for prospective volunteers to consider. Some volunteering opportunities require greater time commitments than others, and would-be volunteers must be honest with themselves when assessing how much time they have to offer. Volunteers without much time to offer should look for more flexible opportunities that require smaller time commitments, while those who have plenty of time on their hands can explore more extensive volunteering gigs.

Goals

Prospective volunteers should consider their reasons for volunteering and what they hope to gain from their experience before choosing an opportunity. Men and women who recently overcame an illness may find it most rewarding to work with an organization that raises awareness about that condition or disease. Parents who want to get their kids involved in volunteering should seek opportunities that allow youngsters to gain hands-on experience.

Volunteering is a great way to give back to a community. The experience of volunteering can be that much more fulfilling when volunteers find an engaging activity.