Before You Volunteer, Ask These Questions

by Christa Hines on August 8, 2013

ID-10088144As the new school year begins, plenty of volunteer requests are going to be pushed under your hand (if they haven’t already).

Finding ways to volunteer in your school, church or community is a wonderful way to connect with other people who share similar interests and to integrate into the community. Volunteering also sets a positive example for your kids. They see that you value their school community because you are investing your time there and that school is an extension of their home life.

But, before saying yes to any of these commitments, make a plan. Don’t let peer pressure pull you into signing up for more than you bargained for. Take time to look over where the needs are and ask a few questions.

First, decide how many hours you want to commit each week to volunteering. If you work a full-time job, consider how much you’ll be running around getting your kids to after-school activities in addition to volunteering. If you stay home with your children, take into account your daily schedule as it looks right now.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What kinds of activities would I find fulfilling?
  • Can I do this job in the time that I’ve allotted for volunteering each week?
  • Will taking on this job add a lot of unwanted stress to my life or can I help in a smaller capacity?
  • Based on my family and work situation, is it better for me to volunteer for after-school or during school activities?
  • Is it important to me that I volunteer in a way that I’m also spending time with my kids (like in the classroom)?
  • Or, do I prefer adult-oriented volunteer activities like helping to coordinate PTO events, etc.?
  • Am I allowed to bring my younger children with me to volunteer or will I need to find childcare?
  • How can I help in a way that makes me feel good and not resentful for the time I’m spending?

Don’t be afraid to ask past coordinators and volunteers what the time commitment was for the task you’re interested in.

Your time is extremely valuable. Weigh your priorities before jumping in and getting in over your head. You can always add more if you find you have more time, but it’s much harder to pull back once you’ve made the commitment.

Photo courtesy: Miles

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