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How to Volunteer

AskingForRaiseAskingForRaise Registered User regular
edited March 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm interested, in a very general way, about volunteering in my community. I'd like to refine that focus into some actionable next steps.

Why volunteer? I like the idea of being a productive citizen that makes a difference in his community. I also have two self-interested reasons:
  • I'm relatively new to my city (San Francisco) and don't have a social circle. That means 1) volunteering could be a way to meet people, and 2) I have a lot of spare time, so why not.
  • I will be applying to business school in two years and understand volunteer experience looks good on applications, especially if the volunteer experience has some leadership component and shows I'm a real human with real interests.
What I don't have is a burning passion for any single issue or years of experience that would make me stand out as useful. What I'm asking of this board are suggestions, either for specific ideas or for big-picture advice on narrowing my focus.

A quick self-summary: I'm a 23 white male with a stable job and a fair amount of disposable income and free time (for an employed young person, at least). I work in consulting. I studied psychology in college, and have limited experience with clinical psychology and conflict mediation. I have serviceable social skills but am not naturally extroverted (I would not be effective standing on street corners with clipboards).

The only ideas I've had on my own are big-name groups like Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers Big Sisters. I thought the latter could be a good fit, but I've read "sheltered young white male" is not an ideal demographic for getting matched with a little sibling (families request same-race siblings, so it could take months to get a match if I'm accepted at all).

Please offer whatever advice you have on volunteering.

AskingForRaise on


  • godmodegodmode Southeast JapanRegistered User regular
    Do you like animals? Why not check out the San Francisco SPCA? They have several different programs for volunteers and they could use the helping hands.

  • finnithfinnith ... TorontoRegistered User regular
    You might try the local Rotary club. I've in the past been a part of their university and high school groups and they've typically done some good stuff.

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  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    Check out

    There's plenty of volunteer groups, and in my city there's even groups aimed at certain age ranges so not only are you volunteering but meeting new friends.

  • AphostileAphostile San Francisco, CARegistered User regular
    I would definitely recommend the Hands On website.

    While I live in Portland, we have a Hands On site for here as well and it has ALWAYS been great for finding a variety of different opportunities.

    Nothing. Matters.
  • KetarKetar Come on upstairs we're having a partyRegistered User regular
    Start off with some one-off volunteering through OneBrick. I've volunteered for a variety of causes and events in Chicago through them, and have been glad for the experiences. Ranging from spending an afternoon at a soup kitchen, to stuffing envelopes for a mailing for a cystic fibrosis foundation, to working as an usher at a charity benefit, to helping in the charity booth at a wine festival.

    Try a few things through them and get a better feel for what kind of volunteering you'd like to do, and meet some nice people along the way. Hands On looks pretty similar - try a few things through both.

  • TheBlackWindTheBlackWind Registered User regular
    I do a lot of Habitat for Humanity work and I love it. gets me outside, learned a lot of general handy skills, and it really is a great cause.

    PAD ID - 328,762,218
  • TheBlackWindTheBlackWind Registered User regular
    Oh, Local United Way chapters are great too. I started at mine writing grants, and I've expanded that into helping with literacy testing/training for low income families.

    PAD ID - 328,762,218
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