How to Become a Teenage Volunteer

Many teenagers today are looking for causes to dedicate themselves to that are bigger than they are.  Unfortunately, these teens don't know how to get started or find the right cause.  To add to this challenge, many adults don't think teens are serious about volunteer or are capable of doing so.  This post should help any teenager get connected with a cause that is worth giving their time to.

Step 1: What are you passionate about?

This is the most important step.  There is nothing worse than being thrown into a volunteer position that you don't care about.  Find out what you like to do first.  To find out what you are passionate about, ask yourself these questions:

  • If I could change one thing, what would it be?
  • What breaks my heart?
  • If I could be doing anything right now, what would it be?

These questions, and questions like them, should help you discover what you are passionate about.

Step 2: Find causes or organizations that align with your passions.

Start researching.  There are many organizations dedicated to a vast number of causes.  Find the ones that align with your passions.  For example, if you love animals, look for veterinarians in your area.  If you love kids, check out Boys & Girls Clubs or after-school programs at local elementary schools.  Just remember to find places that you care about.  If you don't care what an organization is doing, you won't last long as a volunteer.  Here are some good places to start:

  • www.unitedway.org: United Way has many different organizations that partner with it.  Go to their site and look for an organization that you care about.
  • www.facebook.com: Okay, so you're probably wondering why I put facebook on here.  There is a great application called "Causes" you can add that has thousands of different causes and organizations you can learn about.
  • www.craigslist.org: Check out the "Community" section.  There are lots of organizations looking for great volunteers.
  • Also, look for non-profits, senior centers, homeless shelters and churches in the area.  These places are ALWAYS looking for volunteers.

Step 3: Contact the organization

Once you have found an organization or two that peaks your interest, call or email them.  Tell them you're interested in helping out.  Most places will have you come in and fill out an application, do an informal interview, than give you some training.  These steps may seem like unnecessary hoops to jump through, but remember, they are trying to see if you would be a good fit for the organization.

This is also a great time to interview them.  Ask them specific questions.  Remember, your time is valuable.  There are many other things you could be doing.  Make sure this cause or organization is a good fit for your passions.

Step 4: Begin

It's now time to begin volunteering.  Start with a specific time frame.  Let them know exactly how much time you are willing to commit.  Whether it's a one-time deal or an ongoing opportunity, let them know ahead of time.  If it's your first time volunteering with a place, start with something short-term, that way you're not committed if it's not a good fit.  You can always up your commitment later if you choose.

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