I’m retiring. How do I find a volunteer role?

birdhouse kidsIt’s not the first time I have been walked over to talk to someone at a party.  “Talk to Pam,” the guest is told.  The issue?   “I am about to retire, and I know I will go crazy if I am not doing some kind of work. How do I volunteer somewhere?”

How do I volunteer?  Easy answer:  call up a nonprofit of interest, and ask that question.  Most have a way to engage your skills or will ask you in to chat further.  Some have a large volunteer engine with lots of choices. But a note of warning:  a quick phone call may not get you filling the right role for you.

The party guest with questions for me was a project manager and wanted to do that kind of work in retirement.  There is no doubt a lot of places that would welcome her skills, but this is a gift of time that will need the right organization and communication of expectations.

I would suggest thinking through a number of questions before calling an agency:

  • Are you looking for a Board or leadership position or a hands-on helper role?  That is, do you want to do policy and strategic planning or assist people in-person?
  • Do you want to do something every so often, or do you want a weekly assignment?
  • Do you want to work with others or prefer to work on your own?
  • What kind of organization is of interest to you:  environmental, health, arts, children, lobbying?
  • Are you looking for new skills or to share your current skills?

A couple of online tools can lead you to a position. These are customized by location.  Most familiar to us is United Way of King County’s website:  www.uwkc.org/ways-to-volunteer. Another online tool that can be customized by location is www.volunteermatch.org.

Together Center actively seeks volunteers.  We need leaders on our finance and property operations committee and on a fundraising and communications committee.  We also have an ambassador program seeking those that would like to learn more about the Center and bring others to the campus on occasion.  Let us know if you have an interest.

Bottom line:  most nonprofits welcome volunteers and rely heavily on their efforts.  Think about what you hope to do. Check out opportunities online, or give an agency of interest a call. You will be welcome!