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Volunteering: How to Find the Best Fit

Last week was National Volunteer Week across Canada and I figured we should keep the momentum going! According to the organization Volunteer Canada, over 12.5 million Canadians volunteer 2.1 billion hours yearly! That’s a lot of not-for-profit love.

I’ve volunteered for various organizations over the years as I think it’s an important part of contributing to society. But, it has at times been challenging for me to find the right kind of volunteer work. There are so many organizations that need help; it can be hard to decide where one should put their energy.

And let’s face it… it can be frustrating to volunteer if your time isn’t being utilized properly. So here are a few things to consider before taking on a volunteer activity:

Why Do You Want to Volunteer?

Everyone has a different reason for volunteering. Some people are looking to make friends or business contacts; others are looking to help people in need. It’s important to consider your motivation, as it will help you select an activity that is a good fit for you. Volunteering should be fulfilling, but only you can decide that for yourself.

A day at an orphanage in South Africa

What Are Your Skills and Interests?

There are limitless volunteer opportunities and you should consider your skill set and interests in order to find the best fit. If you are an animal person, a shelter might be a good fit for you. If you love organizing and paper work, many places look for help with reception or administrative duties. You don’t want to end up performing a task that you hate, so make sure to consider what you like to do.

Volunteering at the Atlantic Film Festival

How Much Time Can You Commit?

Everyone has a different amount of spare time to offer. And many organizations require a minimum time commitment from their volunteers. Before you start looking for a volunteer activity, you should consider (and be realistic) about how much time you have free in any given day/week/month. Some roles will require training or weekly/monthly prep. Make sure to consider all of the time you’ll need to commit to avoid overcommitting and under delivering.

Tree Planting Photo Credit:

Where is the Volunteer Activity Located?

You can volunteer anywhere you want: abroad, in another community or right in your backyard. When you are considering the type of volunteer activity you’d like to participate in, consider how you will get there. If it’s an opportunity abroad, it may take a lot of saving and coordination to make it happen. If it’s outside your community you should consider your transportation options.


There is no shortage of great organizations in need of volunteer help and with a little bit of research, you can find an opportunity that is a great fit for you. There are several online resources that will help place you with an organization such as: EnergizeInc or One can also search for charities/non-profits at the CRA website.  Many sites are community, city or province specific, so it may take a little extra effort during the search process. You can also post or find volunteer opportunities on our family of sites under “jobs- volunteer”.

Most organizations looking for volunteers will clearly state how to get in touch with them on their websites. And don’t be surprised if it takes a little while before you can get started. Many of these organizations are understaffed and if you’re looking to volunteer with kids for example, there might be a long clearance process before you can actually get started (but don’t get discouraged, it’s worth the wait!)

Brownie Leader “Snowy Owl” aka Me, learning to snow shoe

Volunteering is a great way to engage in your community and give back to organizations who are helping give a voice to those in need. Finding the right volunteer activity takes a little planning, but it will ensure that you are using your precious free time in the best way possible. Join the 12.5 million Canadians already volunteering their time and make 2012 your year to volunteer!

Freelance Social Media Consultant/Producer/Production Manager and lover of media, entertainment and "the Internet". Mother to 1 human toddler and 3 guinea pigs, I live in Halifax, NS and I adore it. Follow me on Twitter: @erinberube

2 Responses to “Volunteering: How to Find the Best Fit”

Amber R Bosma

Wow, good for you for volunteering your time. I too have volunteered for many years – started about ten years ago and have childcared, elderly cared, been a treasurer, board member, events coordinator….
I decided this year will be my year of the volunteer so I am helping at music festivals, learning events, as much as I can.
I think people might underestimate what volunteering can do for them. As well as giving to the community, it is a great way to update your resume with new skills. You mention finding a fit for your interests but you can also find a fit for skills you want to develop and as you become more expert, add that experience to your resume. It’s a great way of getting into a certain industry sector when you can’t get paid work and it’s fulfilling too



    That’s a great point, volunteering is a good way to learn a new skill set. Sounds like you’ve done a lot of volunteering too!

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