Volunteering will likely mean something different to just about everyone who reads this.

Think about it. Becoming a volunteer could range from working at an animal shelter or in a food kitchen, becoming a docent or a tour guide at a museum. It could involve serving on the board of a non-profit whose mission is especially meaningful to you.

Whatever you choose it should be something you feel very passionate about.

Finding the Right Volunteer Opportunity

When you are busy working in corporate America you may or may not find time to volunteer. When you retire you realize you realize you have “free time” to take on volunteer commitments. It feels good knowing you can truly make a difference for organizations.

Keep in mind it’s important to find the right fit before you can truly make volunteering meaningful. A wrong fit can easily cause frustration. You won’t be happy and the contributions you could be making just won’t happen. But finding the right fit can make all the difference.

When you think about volunteerism as part of life when you retire, consider your business skills and leadership roles acquired along the way. Consider how they could be applied to volunteer roles. In all likelihood you have been active in the community, so you will have many ideas about how to add value to not-for-profit groups.

Steps for Making a Good Choice

But how do you find a volunteer opportunity that is that “right fit?” Here’s a suggestion. Make a list of local organizations whose mission connects with ideas you are passionate about. Investigate each organization. Ask questions of people you know who may already have connections within the group. Attend meetings, fund raising events and other activities of the organization. You can learn a great deal about the culture of a group by observation.

Then schedule a meeting with the leadership. Ask about the group’s mission and its short term and long-term goals. Talk about your own experience and skills and ask how you can help. If the fit seems right start with a low level of commitment. That can help you decide if the organization really is right for you and if the group can use and benefit from your skills.

The Benefits for You

The average person has roughly 20 years of life remaining after retirement. Most people would quickly become bored without some meaningful life activity. Many find volunteering rewarding on many levels. It gives a sense of accomplishment. It also provides a chance to meet people and make new friends with other retirees who are serving as volunteers.

Those friendships will add value to your retirement and expand your outlook on life. You can find value in sharing information with other retirees. These might include ideas about travel or overcoming medical issues. Most important, friendships can be the driving force in staying active and connected after 60.

Satisfaction from volunteering comes when a woman realizes that what she is doing is making a difference in her community and to people benefiting from her service. My advice to those thinking about volunteering is to investigate all the opportunities in the community and find a good fit.

Know when to say “yes” and when to say “no thank you” with grace. Then fully commit. The organizations you choose to work with will certainly benefit and you will too.

Do you volunteer? If so, what do you do to give back? If not, what volunteer opportunities interest you most? Please share your experience and join the conversation.

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