How to Become a Volunteer

photo by vastateparksstaff 1
by vastateparksstaff

We're living in a very fast age. Our lives are fast, the world around us is changing fast — and sometimes it's very hard to pay attention to issues other than the ones we face ourselves. Nevertheless, there are some of us who are still able to find some time to do something to make this world a better place. Even if their contribution is small — even if there's nothing to gain except the warm feeling of inner satisfaction you get from putting a smile on somebody's face. What about you? Have you ever considered becoming a volunteer?

Why Do We Need Volunteers?

In 2009, Canadians donated a total amount of $7.8 billion to various funds and charities. Moreover, 12.5 million of them (46% of the population aged 15 and over) volunteered for charitable and non-profit organizations. Together, all these volunteers contributed just over 2.1 billion volunteer hours, which equals to almost 1.1 million full-time jobs.

Also, did you know that the non-profit sector contributes to our economy greatly? Its share of 6.8% of the GDP (equivalent to more than $86.9 billion) represents a greater contribution than the retail trade industry, and it's close to the value of the mining, oil, and gas extraction industry.

Although these numbers are quite positive, there is still much left to do. Non-profit organizations are practically unable to function without voluntary work and they need to refresh their ranks every year. Therefore they are always looking for new enthusiastic volunteers to aid with their cause. You say you would like to join, so what can you do?

Volunteering Opportunities in Toronto

There are many, many organizations listed on the Internet looking for volunteers. Fortunately, there are also many lists where you can search for the volunteering organizations by their objectives and/or category.

For example:
Canadian Universities - Volunteer Opportunities
Toronto Communities Volunteers
Official Toronto Website

If you would like to participate in Toronto Special Events, check out their list and offered roles on official Toronto website.

photo by marc falardeau
Chalk Drawing
by marc falardeau

Fresh volunteering positions are also available at Toronto's Craigslist.

So, how do you choose the right place for you? There's probably no universal manual for this, as there are many very different volunteering opportunities and everyone. At first, however, you should ask yourself the following questions:

What do I want to do?

Would you enjoy taking care of the elderly or would you rather help with the organization of a charity event? Do you have any experience in the given field, are you suitable for your desired voluntary position?

How much of my time am I willing to sacrifice?

Would you like to participate on a short-term or a long-term project? Or would you rather help with single events? Or some kind of regular voluntary service? The variety of opportunities is pretty wide, so take your time schedule into consideration. Don't exaggerate yourself. Although it's usually totally worth it, even voluntary service can be pretty exhausting and time-consuming.

What organizations would probably fit my expectations? What do they offer to people and what can they offer to me?

Look for references, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Observe how the organization responds. If you're uncomfortable with their approach, back away.

To sum it all up, make sure you'll find a volunteering position that will truly make you happy. There's no point in forcing anything upon yourself; it would only do more harm than good. The warm feeling you get for selflessly helping someone in need is a great reward, so don't let it become spoiled by doing something you're not quite comfortable with.

Some say that the interest in volunteering is fading, and some surveys even prove them right. Let's prove them wrong for a change! Happy volunteering!

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