Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
volunteer painting a wall

8 Questions to ask yourself before volunteering

Added on Friday, September 2, 2016

Written by Ashley Grossman, social media and content manager for The Salvation Army Northern Division

Are you prepared to volunteer? This may seem like a simple enough question, but the fact is, many don’t take the time to truly consider what they want their volunteer experience to look like. It can be difficult to consider the many factors of volunteering. You may not have the time required to do so, or you may not be able to find something that you’re passionate about.

To make this a little easier, we’ve jotted down a quick list of questions to help you discover the right kind of volunteer opportunity that fits your lifestyle.

  1. What are my interests? Whether it’s serving a particular population of individuals, engaging with children, working on physical projects, or offering assistance in an office, you’ll want to consider what would best suit your interests. There are volunteer options out there for a wide variety of interests so take some time to figure out what will be the most rewarding for you.
  2. What are my skills? Certain volunteer opportunities may require a specific skill set, so you’ll want to identify your strengths before beginning your search. If you’re musically inclined, an excellent opportunity would be to volunteer as an assistant in youth music programs. Perhaps you thrive in fast-paced environments where making speedy decisions counts. Joining our team of MOST Amazing Race volunteers may be the best fit.
  3. Do I want an ongoing, short-term or a one-time assignment? Depending on the organization you choose, they may offer a variety of options from a single day project to a long-term position. You will also want to ask if they require volunteers to stick to a certain assignment for a specific time period before moving on to another role. You’ll save yourself a headache later if you know what’s expected of you before making any commitments.
  4. two volunteers serving a mealHow much time do I have? This is where you’ll need to realistically look at your schedule before deciding to lend a helping hand. Will that daily 6 a.m. breakfast service give you enough time to prepare for work in the morning? On the same note, will you be able to maintain that schedule if you’re serving three mornings a week? If you answered “yes” to every question, that’s wonderful! But, if you had to think about it, perhaps you should consider an alternative, like serving dinner once a week after work.
  5. Do I want to volunteer alone or in a group? Some people are energized when working within groups while others prefer a position with more independence. Whatever your persuasion, take a minute to think about the pros and cons of both. If you prefer to set your own schedule or create a new position that uses your particular skill set, a solo volunteer opportunity may be the best fit.
  6. What do you hope to gain? There are all kinds of volunteer positions that offer different experiences. Is there a particular skill you would like to learn or continue to build upon? If the answer is “yes,” keep that in mind when you’re looking at open positions in your area. If you’re not finding an opportunity that speaks to you, create one [read related story]. Approach the nonprofit with your idea and be willing to work with them. In the end, both your needs and theirs will be met.
  7. What tasks don’t you like doing? Just as you would think about what you love to do, it’s equally as important to think about the tasks that you dislike. If you become anxious when there are many new people around, perhaps a meal service isn’t the best fit. However, if you would really like to take part in that particular example, maybe you would like to participate as a cook rather than a server.
  8. emergency disaster volunteers smilingAre you willing to go through training to volunteer? Some volunteering opportunities require a little more education than others. For example, our emergency disaster services teams are made up of volunteers, but they needed training to understand how to serve people whose lives have just been thrown into crisis.

Whether you’ve volunteered with us before or are new to the scene, we’ve got something for everyone. Please join The Salvation Army by volunteering or making a donation to support your local community today.