There are many ways to create your own volunteer role. Maybe you have searched volunteer agency and voluntary job websites, and can’t find exactly the kind of role that you are looking for. Perhaps you have a particular charity or project in mind already. Maybe you already volunteer for a charity or organization, and have an idea for a new project.
Or maybe you want to create a new project or event independent of any existing organization. The first step, of course is to come up with your project idea.
Whatever your idea is, the next step is to do some thorough research. You need to look at what opportunities are already out there – does something like what you have in mind already exist?
As part of your research you also need to network – talk to family and friends, volunteer agencies, and the charities themselves. Find out whether the organization you are interested in working with might be open to new ideas. If your idea is a fundraising venture then most charities will be pleased to support you, but be careful if you have something else in mind. Bigger organizations are usually less open to ground roots changes, but smaller charities will sometimes welcome new input. You will, however, need to tread carefully – you can’t just swing into an existing team all guns blazing. Be aware that most organizations will require you to do some training, and will certainly require you to have a CRB check. They may also want so allow some time for them to get to know you before allowing you free rein to try something new.
Mature student Ann was interested in doing some voluntary work. She signed up for some volunteer training for a local women’s aid agency, thinking she might work on their helpline. At the end of the training course each participant was interviewed to determine what role they might play within the organization. At her interview Ann expressed an interest in running a writing or art group for adults within the women’s refuge (she had some experience in this field). The managers liked the idea and suggested she worked in refuge to get to know the organization. Ann did this, and after a couple of months started a weekly art group, which became popular with both the women and their children. The residents showed little interest in the writing class, so this idea was shelved.
You can see from the case study that Ann not only had to participate in training, but she also had to establish herself within the organization before she could trial her idea. She had to be adaptable – her idea for a writing group was not what the clients wanted, so that idea had to be scrapped. She also ended up teaching a mixed group of children as well as adults.
Your capability to adapt to change is something that is vitally important, even if you decide to go it alone.
And finally – think carefully before you start your project or approach an organization, make a plan, work out exactly what resources you will need, the health and safety implications, premises required, and how many people will be involved – this will be helpful when presenting your idea to the organization/charity or funding body. For more information on DIY volunteer projects visit http://www.idealist.org/info/Volunteer/DIY. If you believe in your project strongly enough there is good chance that it will succeed, but if it doesn’t don’t be disheartened. There are many ways into volunteering. London the Home Counties, and beyond are full of opportunities to make a difference, and it may be that you can try your idea again further down the line.
For more info: Click on “Subscribe to Newsletter” and enter your email address at the tops of the page to receive notice of this weekly feature and other new articles. You may also email your Job Search related questions to Mark@MarkMontoya.com Mark Montoya has been working in personal branding for more than a decade for hundreds of online and offline companies, small businesses and individual service professionals. His focus has been toward improving the way jobseekers find employment on the Internet. He has synthesized his expertise by helping job seekers obtain their ideal choice of employment over the Internet on his sites MyOnlineCareerSpace.com and MyOnlineCareerCoach.com, and through his books 101 Tips Every Job Seeker Should Know and The Ultimate Online Job Search eBook. Learn more at MarkMontoya.com, on Twitter, on LinkedIn or StumbleUpon, or Google+.
"It is the responsibility of the individual to reject the prospect of mediocrity and to strive for the betterment of society as a whole" ~ Mark Montoya