In order to find the right volunteer opportunity, it is important to know what volunteering entails, different types of opportunities and which are the best. The following is a summary of these four key points.
It is also important to distinguish between volunteering and being an intern. An internship can be an important stepping stone in a career path that leads to a paid position. The internship can be part of the hiring process for a job, provided it is for unpaid employment. Internships only provide training and the opportunity to gain experience in the field that you are seeking to enter, which makes them distinct from volunteer work.
Voluntary work is the act of working without pay, at no charge to the worker, in order to help others or society as a whole. A person can choose not to have any monetary gain from their voluntary time. In many countries, they may be entitled to receive a nonprofit tax credit for their contributions. Volunteer organisations sometimes offer incentives too like child care subsidies and special discounts on travel and food in exchange for volunteer hours.
Voluntary work can be done as a one-off event or on a regular basis, for example, weekly or monthly. It can be done with friends or as part of an organised group. A formal organisation may run several projects and events to help you choose where and how to contribute that suits you best.
Some of the most common examples of voluntary work include charity fundraising events, helping out at animal shelters or community gardens, coaching sports teams, creative arts workshops and peer education programmes such as HIV/AIDS prevention.
For example, whether you want to give your time and skills to a local organisation which will use it for the benefit of people in your own community or whether you want to donate your skills to an overseas charity that puts your help in the context of helping other people overseas.
Sometimes individual volunteers are given a list of possible work activities as part of their training. It is a good idea to talk about it with others and find out what other volunteers are doing in the organisation to get an idea of how you might participate.
Voluntary work can take place in an organised or unorganised setting. If a child is taking part in voluntary work, this usually means that they are not being paid to take part, but they may be entitled to claim some of their expenses back. This is also true for adults who may have lunch reimbursed by the charity or organisation.