Dear Savvy Senior: What resources can you recommend for locating interesting volunteer work? Since I retired, I’ve been doing some volunteering but most of the opportunities I’ve tried haven’t been very satisfying. — Unsatisfied Volunteer
Dear Volunteer: For many retirees, finding a volunteer opportunity that satisfies your interests, utilizes your talents and matches your availability can be challenging. Here are some tips and online tools that can help you search.
Volunteering is a great way for retirees to make a positive contribution to their community and stay actively engaged, not to mention it’s good for your health. But how can you find the right opportunity? Ask yourself basic questions like: What types of organizations or activities are you interested in? What kind of skills can you offer an organization? How much time are you willing to give? What do you want to gain from your experience (meet new people, learn new skills, help those in need, exposure to a particular issue)?
Once you get a general idea of what you’d like to do, there are dozens of volunteer websites that can help you search.
Most sites work like search engines that let you choose an area of interest and a zipcode or city and state. The sites will then give you a list.
>> General volunteer matching sites: To find a wide variety of volunteer opportunities in your community, check out VolunteerMatch.org, IdeaList.org, AllForGood.org and HandsOnNetwork.org. The last two are a Point of Light websites, the world’s leading volunteer service organization.
>> Retiree volunteer sites: If you’re interested in opportunities targeting older adults and retirees, some options include AARP’s CreateTheGood.org, along with SeniorCorps.gov, which matches retirees with community projects and organizations.
>> Senior Corps’ programs: RSVP has a variety of volunteer activities with flexible time commitments; the Senior Companion Program brings together volunteers with homebound seniors who have difficulty with day-to-day tasks; and the Foster Grandparent Program matches volunteers with kidsin need.
>> Government-sponsored sites: Serve.gov can help you locate dozens of options in your area. To find volunteer opportunities in places like national and state parks, see Volunteer.gov. If you’re interested in emergency preparedness and disaster response, go to Ready.gov. Or, if you’re interested in longer-term volunteer opportunities, check out AmeriCorps.gov and PeaceCorps.gov/50plus, which offers a bevvy of three-month to two-year programs in the U.S and abroad.
>> Professional and executive sites: If you have expertise in areas like business planning and development, marketing, communications, finance, fund-raising, web and graphic design or writing and editing, there are sites—– like Catchafire.org, TaprootPlus.org and ESCUS.org — that can link you to nonprofit organizations. Or, you can help entrepreneurs and small business owners through the SCORE.org mentoring program.
Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” program and author of “The Savvy Senior.” Send your questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.