Get Involved: Tips to Successfully Engage With Your Community
By Michael Murphy, CPA
If your city is doing great things for its people, do you ever wish you could be more actively involved? If the answer is yes, then you are in luck. I can guarantee that if great things are being done in your community, there are abundant opportunities for you to get involved. If the answer is no or you are unsure, consider this: Helping your community grow and thrive provides a strong sense of belonging and pride in the best possible way. In addition, being involved in the community can build great relationships, both business and personal, and help develop soft skills such as communication, professionalism, leadership, negotiation and more.
You don’t have to look far to find evidence that volunteering is personally and professionally beneficial. So, put aside whatever may be keeping you from volunteering in your community and just go for it! Here are a few steps to help you get started.
1. Google it.
One great way to find volunteer opportunities in any community is to utilize an online search tool such as Google. And it already knows where you live, so you don't even have to specify the community in which you are seeking opportunities. Later on, it may even provide advertisements related to volunteering when you are browsing the internet.
Besides Google, there are countless resources online to enable you to find out what opportunities are available in your community and how to get involved.
2. Ask friends or co-workers.
Ask people in the community that are already giving time to or leading community events for volunteer opportunities or suggestions. Nonprofit employees or volunteers are very eager and willing to explain what they do and how you can help. They are usually passionate about the causes they serve and ready to recruit more helpers. These inquiries don't have to be face-to-face either. A beneficial conversation can occur through email or social media.
Finding a Role
Finding opportunities to volunteer in your community may be easy enough. It may be more difficult to find your ideal role in volunteering and which organizations you should get involved in. I have listed several things to consider while searching for the right volunteer opportunity.
1. Know what you have to offer.
It is easy to think that you are not qualified to serve on certain boards or have a leadership role in volunteer groups. However, most nonprofit boards are eager to recruit anyone willing to put forth time and effort for a cause. Quite often, there is a lack of young talent in many positions within nonprofit organizations, and there is a high demand for the talents of this demographic. The greatest asset you bring to the table is not years of experience; rather, your value can be your passion, intention and a genuine desire to serve. If you use the resources around you, ask for help and harness your passion about an organization, you can be of more benefit than you probably think possible.
2. Choose a mission you’re passionate about.
This may be the most important suggestion of all. If you are not fully committed to an organization’s value, volunteering will most likely become a chore and your service will become ineffectual. Being passionate about your cause changes your perspective on service.
3. Remember that you will get out what you put in.
If you choose to become engaged in a community service organization, invest as much as you can. It's easy to sign up to serve on a board and show up for meetings once every other month. It's not so easy to put forth effort and time outside of the minimum required meetings. This is where you can truly make a larger impact.
4. Do not take on too much.
Now that you’ve decided to get involved, and you’ve found your special call to service, take care not to overdo it. There is an abundance of worthy community programs and organizations in which to invest. Spreading yourself too thin does a disservice to you and your organization(s) of choice. You can't be a benefit to anyone if you don’t have spare time to volunteer or help out in a special situation. It is best to fully commit to one or maybe two community outreaches that you truly care about rather than overcommit yourself.
If you are interested in getting involved in your community but have been putting it off until now, just open a new tab on your browser and start a new search. Opportunities are everywhere once you decide you’re ready to commit.