Volunteering is an incredible experience that can be very fulfilling, while making a vital difference to our community. Many community groups and not-for-profits rely on volunteers to continue their significant projects and activities.
If you’ve been considering volunteering, below are some tips that may be helpful to get started and make the most of your volunteering experience.
Where to start?
No matter what your skills and background is, there’s a role to suit you. There are many opportunities to volunteer.
Find out about volunteering roles via:Volunteering Redlands
Check out the websites of community organisations or Not-For-Profits in your local area e.g. starcommunityservices.org.au.
What compliance and checks do I need to have before volunteering?
Volunteers may need to complete certain checks before starting certain volunteer roles (e.g. a National Police Check, obtaining a Blue Card or NDIS Workers’ Screening Check). These checks are legal requirements to ensure the safety of vulnerable community members, safeguard confidential information etc. Organisations will generally help you complete the checks. These checks can take up to 4 weeks to complete.
How much time do I need to commit for volunteering?
There is a huge variety of volunteering roles. Some roles need you to work on set days at set times while some offer flexibility for you to balance your work-study-life commitments around your volunteering role. Some roles can even be performed remotely e.g. graphic designing, online research, website development and even some admin roles. Generally speaking, most organisations will be flexible and work to accommodate you whenever possible. If you need to take a day for personal reasons, have holidays planned or need to change days, or maybe wanting to try a new role - let someone know.
How do I know if a role is right for me?
A good way to check if a role is right for you is by considering:
Can you apply your skills/interest or experience to the role?
Can you commit to set hours on set days per week/fortnight/month realistically?
Even if the role can be done remotely, how many hrs can you commit towards the completion of tasks?
If you are currently job hunting – what would be your availability if you get employment?
Can you see yourself in the role or with the organisation in 3 months.
Before you start
Discuss any questions with the Volunteer Coordinator, or relevant staff member when considering volunteering. Ask as many questions as you need to, to feel clear about the role before making a commitment.
ask lots of questions about the role- what tasks are involved, who will you report to, what training and support will be provided etc.
propose to do a ‘shadow shift’ where you can come in and observe the role in action for an hour or two to learn more about what it entails
Once you start
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Likewise if you feel you can offer more than let your supervisor know.
If you have any issues or concerns please feel free to talk with your supervisor, the volunteer coordinator or someone you feel comfortable talking with. Volunteers are valuable – if a reasonable solution can be found which addresses your concerns, or if you need support to make volunteering achievable and enjoyable – please ask. More often than not volunteers will be given support in return for the support you provide!
And remember to practice selfcare!
Start today! Volunteering is a simple and effective way each one of us can contribute to the betterment of our community. By volunteering, you will gain new skills, develop current ones, meet new people and improve your own wellbeing! So why wait? Take the first step. Find a role that suits you.