Strategic Volunteering

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Strategic Volunteering

By: Jessica Doherty | Volunteer Services Assistant
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Trina Isakson, the previous Coordinator of SFU Volunteers Services shares tips on Strategic Volunteering. 

The first step is to take a look at yourself.  Start by asking yourself:

  • What am I interested in?
  • What skills do I have to contribute?
  • What skills do I want to learn or practice?
  • What types of people do I want to meet? 

Once you have clearly identified your preferences and passions you can narrow your scope and better assess opportunities on your horizon. While a position that is perfect for your interests and goals may already exist, that is not always the case. You may have to dig deeper and contact organizations directly for more information. Most organizations are willing to answer questions via phone or email regarding their organization and what they do. Think of this as you would aninformational interview for a job.

To prepare for contacting an organization, first consider:

  • What should I find out before I approach an organization?
  • Who should I target in the organization?
  • What questions should I ask?

These questions allow you to gauge where you will be most useful and give you specific details you can use first in your initial contact with an organization and again, in your future volunteer position proposal. Use this information to help you decide what areas the organization needs help with the most and what position you could fulfill.

After your research and initial contact with your desired organization is complete, it is time to write a volunteer position proposal. There are a few key points to consider as you set about this task:

  • An organization may not have the capacity to support you in the way you hope, so be flexible
  • Remember that you want to help them, not change them
  • Make it easy to say yes to your proposal by being approachable and down-to-earth 

Your proposal should include:

  • An introductory letter
  • Your resume
  • A description of the project goal
  • Why this project is right for them
  • Benefits they will receive
  • Risks associated
  • Outcomes you will achieve
  • Resources you will need
  • A timeline

Remember, not all organizations will be able to accept your proposal at this time. Don’t be discouraged! There are other organizations that will benefit from your passion and drive. Happy hunting!

Beyond the Article

For a more information on volunteering visit the SFU Volunteer Services’ website.  

Posted on September 26, 2011