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Assess Your Volunteering Preferences

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Before you attempt to choose a specific organization to work for, ask yourself the following:

What cause is important to me?

Some people get a lot of satisfaction out of helping others with the same condition. Other people prefer to use their volunteer work to distract them from thinking about their own illness. If this is the case, think about what other causes you would like to help.

Do I want to use my current skills, or learn something different?

Volunteering can be an inexpensive way to learn new skills.

If you use your diagnosis as a wake-up call or if you're just ready for a change, are there additional skills you want to learn?

Do I want to use my volunteering to further my job or career or to help me find a better job? If I'm not working, do I want to use volunteering to help me find a job?

If you are working, volunteering can be a way to use your current skills to help others. You can also learn new skills to apply at your paying job.

If you are not working and planning on returning to a career similar to that which you left, consider volunteering someplace where you can sharpen and update your skills and keep your knowledge current.

If you are planning on a career change or not going back to work, volunteering can be a way to learn something totally new and exciting.

What do I want to do, and what don't I want to do, as a volunteer?

Catalog the types of work you would like to do, as well as those you prefer NOT to do. You can then negotiate assignments with your volunteer supervisor.

Do I want an ongoing assignment, a short-term assignment, or a one-time assignment?

Volunteer positions vary in duration. What best suits your availability and energy level? If you're interested in a certain agency, do they have a one-day fund-raising event you can get involved in to get your feet wet before deciding to commit to that group?

Do I want to work from home?

There are many volunteering opportunities from home. For example, you could do research, graphic design, write grant proposals or write materials (including for us!). In addition to a computer, you'll need internet connection.

Do I want to work alone or with a group? With what kind of people do I want to work?

Thinking about these questions in advance will help you maximize the social benefits of volunteering. Do you see your volunteer time as a break from a hectic household, an opportunity to make new friends, or some thing else entirely?

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