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Volunteering comes in all shapes and sizes. Some volunteering commitments are the equivalent of full time roles, whereas others can be one off instances taking up as little as an hour of your time. Before deciding to volunteer, you should know exactly what kind of role you’re looking for in terms of how much time it will take up for you.

Volunteering is inherently quite flexible. You’ll find opportunities are often built around the time you’re able to donate, and a number of new opportunities approach this head-on. In fact, Team London’s speed volunteering platform allows you to volunteer for one-off events in a way that suits you. A lot of charities also have online rotas you’re able to access once you’ve been taken on by a charity, which not only lets you decide easily which slots work for you, but also helps the charity decide when they need more volunteers. Volunteering is constantly evolving, and more technology is being invested into systems which help charities organisation volunteers, which in turn makes things a lot easier for volunteers too!

Only buy a pair of shoes if they have them in your size

Let’s say you’ve been looking for a volunteering opportunity for a while, and you come across one that looks perfect. It’s everything you want out of an opportunity, but you check and see that the role needs you to be available Thursday evenings, and Thursday evenings are normally when you go to spin class. Just like when browsing for shoes and not being able to find a pair you like in your size, you have a few options.

You could get in touch with the charity who have posted the listing, ask them if this time commitment is flexible at all (“Could you check once more to see if you do have my size?”), you could ask if that time in the office could be completed from home (“Are you able to deliver the right size to my house?”), or you could simply mark this opportunity as not being compatible at the moment for what you have going on in your life (“Goodbye for now shoes, I may see you again in the future when we are both ready.”).

Where the shoe metaphor breaks down, however, is that it may be worth taking a chance on an opportunity which you first think might not be a good fit. Not much of a morning person? You may find that changes if you’re motivated to get up and go volunteer somewhere locally at 9am on a weekend!

Avoid taking on too much

Browsing our site, you may see a couple of opportunities that look like they’d be just your thing, so you apply to them both, hoping to get one. Then, because you’re the luckiest person in the world, you hear back from both charities and they both want you. What should you do?

Our advice would be to think long and hard about accepting both those positions. For seasoned volunteers, you may have a good idea about how taking on multiple positions will affect your time, but for first-timers, you’re entering unknown territory. With any volunteering role, there’s normally a period of learning about your role that comes first. If you have two positions you’re trying to take on, this could result in information overload, especially if you’re volunteering during what you’d normally class as your ‘downtime’. You may start prioritising one role over the other, and then with that comes the potential for guilt. And volunteering shouldn’t be something you ever feel guilty about.

Don’t stress out if you’re feeling under pressure

The organisation that’s hired are going to be aware that you’re volunteering with them because you want to help. If you find that you are worried about the amount of time you’re volunteering, the best thing to do is to reach out to your volunteer coordinator, or the person who you spoke to most when you were originally brought on. They will be able to talk through your concerns, and more often than not they’ll be able to work with you to find a pace that suits you better, whether that be increasing or decreasing your hours, or shifting the times you’re able to work.

Volunteering is meant to be a lot of things: fun, rewarding, sociable, and more. That doesn’t mean it won’t be hard at times, sure, but if the hours you’re working are stressing you out, the best thing you can do is look to address that issue head on. In the world of volunteering, the hours you put in and how you put them in are constantly evolving.

 

This article was originally published on Do-It and appears here with permission.

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