National Volunteer Week is coming up – April 10 – 16 to be exact. Whether you are an active volunteer or want to get more involved in your community, the week has plenty to offer.

What is National Volunteer Week?

National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 as a way to take action and encourage individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change – discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference. National Volunteer Week helps to inspire and encourage people to seek out imaginative ways to engage their communities.

Since its start, National Volunteer week has grown exponentially each year, with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week. Nonprofits and volunteer programs all across the country take advantage of this moment of national attention to promote their cause and volunteer commitment in their communities.

Celebrate Service, the theme for the 2016 National Volunteer Week, captures the meaning of the signature week: honoring the people who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in their communities.

This year, Points of Light is also honored to recognize the seventh anniversary of the
Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act and the creation of the Volunteer Generation Fund through a series of celebratory and service events across the nation.

Celebrate Service presents an opportunity for individuals, families, nonprofit organizations and government entities alike to honor the ordinary people who accomplish the extraordinary through volunteer service and who motivate others to follow their lead.

Points of Light, which spearheads National Volunteer Week, is the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. Through affiliates in 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, Points of Light engages 4 million volunteers in 30 million hours of service each year. Verified Volunteers is proud to be partnered with Points of Light.

How can I participate in National Volunteer Week?

If you are not currently an active volunteer, check out your local volunteer center – a Hands On Action Center or perhaps a United Way in your community. Aside from having a directory of volunteer organizations and programs that you can get involved with all throughout the year, they will likely have special events, activities and ceremonies happening April 10 – 16.

If you already volunteer, ask around at your volunteer organization. They are surely holding volunteer events – or maybe even a recognition ceremony for you and your fellow volunteers.

I want to become an active volunteer. What are some tips to get started?

First of all, congratulations! This is what National Volunteer Week is all about – inspiring citizens to give back all throughout the year.

If you’re looking for a great volunteer experience, here are five tips you should follow.
 
1. Find an organization whose cause matters to you.
 
What do you care about? Maybe you are a staunch homeless advocate.  Perhaps you are committed to the environment and want to make sure your immediate community – or the planet Earth in general – is clean. Being passionate about the organization’s cause or mandate will increase the impact of your volunteer experience because you truly want to be there.
 
2. Don’t overcommit: Just because you’re a volunteer doesn’t mean you have to say yes to everything.
 
Make sure you balance your time between volunteering and your other responsibilities – like school, work, and family. You might truly love your role at your volunteer organization, but be careful that you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed, exhausted or rushed to meet other commitments because of volunteering.
 
3. Use your skills.
 
There is no better feeling than being good at something and being able to use that skill to help others. What skills or interests do you have? See out volunteer positions where you can utilize them. 
 
Use your marketing skills to help an organization get the word out about their cause. Are you a contractor? Help out building homes for victims of disasters. Do you work in the medical field? Donate your free time giving care to those in need.
 
4. Get prepared.

 
When you find something that sounds great, it’s easy to get excited. But, before you jump onboard, do some research into the organization. Make sure you will be a good fit. The same goes during the onboarding process. Ask questions during the volunteer interview about what you will do, where you will be volunteering, and what the volunteering atmosphere will be like. Make sure you not only fit the organization, but that the organization and role fit you.
 
5. Challenge yourself to learn something new.
 
If you’ve been volunteering at the same organization for a while, maybe it’s time to speak to your volunteer manager and see if there are other roles you can switch to – roles that will help you to keep learning and avoid boredom, which could lead to you ending your service as a whole.
 
We hope you take these tips into consideration—and find a volunteer role you love.

Make sure you join the social media effort around National Volunteer Week.  Use the hashtag #NVW2016 to encourage your friends and networks to join in.

We’ll be posting around the week on Facebook and Instagram too. Follow us, retweet and repost – and tell us how you’ll participate this year.

Find out how you can get prepared to volunteer – with a background check.           Click here.

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