The 2016 Volunteering in the United States report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed a trend that's been growing for the last decade: Americans are volunteering less.
According to the report, only about one in four people, age 16 and older, are volunteering each year. While experts and researchers are not sure why volunteer rates are declining, it's clear that they are.
Perhaps there is something we can do about it. Maybe you've been thinking about volunteering, but are unsure how or where to get started. Or, maybe you're looking for a new and different volunteer opportunity.
Answering these five questions can help you find a volunteer experience that engages your heart, mind and skills:
- What's your why? What do you want to get out of it? Do you want to make a difference on a local level? National level? Do you want to see that you are making an immediate impact? Or, are you happy working without seeing the end result?
- What excites you? What cause are you most passionate about? Do you want to volunteer in your line of work or do something completely different? Whether it's athletics or education, animal care or the environment, community service or the arts, you can find something to satisfy your heart.
- What are you good at? Consider your professional skills, hobbies and recreational talents. And don't underestimate the value of being a good listener or offering verbal encouragement and support. Skills such as these can open up many service opportunities.
- What's the time commitment? Be realistic. What is the organization in need of and what can you commit to? How many hours or days? Where are they located? If it's not realistic for you to commit, the likelihood will be small that you'll follow through.
- Where is the greatest need? If you find you don't have a specific cause in mind, go where the need is. Ask your friends, relatives, neighbors and members of your church where they volunteer. Check the local paper or hop online to find volunteer postings. Find a need, ask some questions and determine if you might be able to help meet that need.
Seeking service opportunities
To learn how you can give back in your local community, check out Thrivent Action Teams.
Not yet a member? Learn more about Thrivent and what makes us different.