Many retirees are interested in donating their time to help out a worthwhile cause. With time available to focus on things they are interested in, volunteering is a natural fit for many retirees. Ideally, some of the skills learned while active members of the working world can be transferable to new efforts.
However, the unfortunate reality is that many retirees end up doing mundane chores that do not utilize the experience and knowledge they have developed over their life and career. With so much real world experience to share and a genuine interest in doing so, it can be frustrating to be underutilized and saddled with mere busy work. Helping out where help is needed is certainly valuable. But boring chores that fail to make use of real skills do not offer a mutually beneficial relationship to retirees who are looking to lend a helping hand. Here are some tips for finding a volunteer position that is a good fit:
Align your interests. There are many worthy endeavors you could become involved with. When searching for the right cause to volunteer for it is important to match your interests with those of the organization you sign up with. If you are hoping to make a long-term commitment, ask a lot of questions before you sign up to volunteer. Make sure you understand what the organization does, how others benefit will benefit from your work, and confirm that you agree with their general philosophy.
Be a mentor. Offer to share your knowledge and skills with younger people who wish to learn your trade. You could mentor young children who need a stable adult presence in their lives, tutor high school students in more advanced subjects, or reach out to college students and recent graduates from your alma matter who are trying to break into your field. Your time-tested advice could significantly help young people to make their first life and career decisions.
Virtual volunteering. Some people are interested in lending a helping hand, but are unable to volunteer on-site, perhaps due to a disability or other commitments. However, those with an Internet connection may no longer need to volunteer in person at a specific time. Online volunteering can allow you to help local nonprofits, schools, or small businesses while working from your home office. These organizations often need help in conducting online research, providing consulting experience, writing articles, creating content for websites, newsletter preparation, and a host of other activities that can be conducted remotely. If your skills include website development or multimedia familiarity, you have even more to offer as a virtual volunteer. Depending on the requirements of the position, most organizations should be able to accommodate a willing and able volunteer working remotely.
Volunteering in retirement is a great way to make new friends and stay involved in the community. Although the day to day details may be less than exciting, it can be incredibly satisfying to see how your efforts are directly improving the community.
Dave Bernard is not yet retired but has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.