Mindful Volunteering: Why It’s Important

We work, and look forward to retirement. We retire, and celebrate our retirement. Then we try to figure out how we will spend our time. The answer, for many of us?

“I’ll volunteer.”

But where?

“I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll volunteer at….”

The purpose of volunteering is not to “maybe” know where you will volunteer. It is to be intentional, knowing what cause to support, why you want to support it, and knowing you will make an impact. The valuable experience of volunteering can only be achieved if the fit is right for the volunteer and the organization.

Research indicates those who are happiest in retirement are those who “give back,” and a significant form of giving back is through volunteering with a cause or purpose in mind. But when someone volunteers simply to keep themselves busy, or because they were “voluntold” to do so, they are less likely to experience the supreme joy of volunteering.

I recently heard Cristin Caine, founder and CEO of Charity Connect, speak to a group of Retirement Transition Coaches. Her non-profit works to increase volunteerism in the community, and guides individuals to volunteer opportunities that fit for both the volunteer and the organization.

This process is called “Mindful Volunteering.”

Those interested in volunteering should honestly consider the following questions:

  • Why do I want to volunteer?
  • What are the causes that are important to me?
  • What impact do I want to make?
  • Do I want to interact with people? Animals? Or be by myself?
  • What skill(s) did I enjoy using at work? Do I want to use them as a volunteer?
  • Are there other skills I would like to use?
  • What new skills do I want to learn?
  • What do I not want to do as a volunteer?

 

How many hours a week, or month, should one commit to volunteering? Caine suggests starting small to make sure it is working for the volunteer and the organization.

Volunteers should take time to think about what matters to them and apply that to their search for volunteer opportunities. The right fit will enable the volunteer to give more freely and make a difference.

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