Dance class

Sure, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities to be found in op-shops. But if sorting and selling used clothes isn't your thing ... well, what IS your thing? Human rights? Instagram? Playing with kids? Sailing? Interpretive dance? There will be a role for you somewhere - if you can't find it, create it!

People often view volunteering as a kind of internship/dogsbody role. It might involve answering the phone, doing filing, or the aforementioned op-shop type duties. Not exactly 'do what you love, love what you do, follow your dreams' type stuff. They are often pleasantly surprised to find that even the blander positions are more rewarding than expected. A new group of friends, skills that lead to employment or becoming an 'accidental counsellor' are some of the unforseen benefits. However, tracking down more specific roles is more likely to guarantee satisfaction.

A thorough search for volunteering positions yields some interesting results. This week a quick search of SEEK's opportunities included:

  • Instagram manager for Impact, who help women and children fleeing domestic violence
  • Volunteer Sailing Skippers of small boats to enable people with a disability to experience sailing
  • Plant propagation at a nursery, ultimately helping to preserve and restore remnant urban bushland
  • Playing with your own kids and residents in aged-care facilities
  • Technical production at a community radio station.

If such novel opportunities don't exist in your area, you can probably create them. With regard to the above list, you could simply contact an organisation (women's refuge, sailing club, aged-care facility, conservation group) and offer your services. Few organisations do all they'd like to do, and an offer of free time and/or skills is unlikely to be refused.

An organisation might be concerned about the legalities of having volunteers if they are not set up for it. Just convince them this is their opportunity to get set up. There are useful guides available at sites like Not-for-profit-law.

It is best to approach an organisation with the idea of doing a project with a start and an end time - otherwise you might end up only doing the mundane stuff like filing and cleaning out fridges. You could see if they already have a project in mind, or propose one yourself. Describe it in one snappy sentence like:
"I will run a four week video production for youTube workshop for a group of six clients". Set up a clear outcome, e.g. "Each client will upload a 3 minute video they have shot and edited" and make sure the project is evaluated for both outcome success and client satisfaction. 

They key is to enjoy what you're doing. If that means setting the agenda - do it. Love what you do, and follow those volunteer dreams.