How to Find Retirement Volunteer Opportunities
By Mark Patterson
Many prospective retirees picture themselves leaving a paying job and using
their free time as a volunteer. But finding a volunteer position suitable for a
retiree may not be as easy as we anticipate.
Retirees are not alone in their desire to help others. Some 62.8 million
Americans volunteered a median of 52 hours in 2010, according to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics. The median annual hours spent on volunteer activities ranged
from a low of 40 hours for the 16 to 34 age group to a high of 96 hours among
volunteers age 65 and over. Given these statistics, don’t assume that your ideal
volunteer position is waiting for you to fill it. Before targeting a volunteer
position, consider some of the practical aspects.
Ask yourself why you are volunteering. Without that
self-knowledge, you may have difficulty finding a position that fits your
volunteer goals. We all have different volunteer motivations, which can include
giving back to the community, improving your own life circumstances, making new
friends, or simply adding new meaning to your life.
Seek a volunteer job that you will you be good at it. Do you
have skills or experience suited for the position? Will you be able to function
inside a particular volunteer organization and structure? Do you have empathy
for others? Without honest answers to these questions, both you and the
volunteer organization may be disappointed.
Will your commitment match the need? When selecting a
volunteer position, be certain that the intensity, hours per week required, and
duration of the work is suitable for the time you are able to give. While you
are retired, you may not want a full-time job as a volunteer.
A good place to start looking for a suitable volunteer gig is to ask your
friends and colleagues in your community. You can expand your search using
Internet sites that act as clearing houses for volunteer opportunities. Here are
some organizations that can help you find volunteer activities.
- The federal government sponsors and operates Serve.gov,
which features a volunteer opportunity search engine using interests and
- VolunteerMatch is a
non-profit service that allows you to search for volunteer positions by
location and keywords.
- Idealist.org is a project of Action
Without Borders, a nonprofit founded in 1995 with offices in the United States
and Argentina. This is an interactive site where people and organizations can
locate opportunities and supporters.
- AmeriCorps is a federally
sponsored volunteer organization with a variety of different community
- AARP operates a Create the Good
program, including a volunteer search engine for the 50+ crowd.
A well thought out plan and search for a volunteer position that suits your
retirement lifestyle and personality will benefit both you and the organization
or individuals you are donating your time to.
Mark Patterson is an engineer, patent attorney, baby
boomer, and author of
Failsafe Retirement System
. He blogs on matters of personal
finance and retirement planning at
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