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Six Tips: How to Volunteer as a Family

Last week we talked about the benefits of volunteering as a family. Obviously, volunteering is great for our community and the subsequent benefits for children and families are priceless. But, how do you get started?

Last week we talked about the benefits of volunteering as a family. Obviously, volunteering is great for our community and the subsequent benefits for children and families are priceless. But, how do you get started? Here are six tips to help you and your family get the most out of your volunteer efforts.

1. Plan as a family

We know from research that including your children in your conversations about giving and giving back,  helps them understand what’s important to you and why you support your favorite organizations.  Ask them what’s important to them and why.  Explain why you think it’s important to volunteer as a family and share the impact that volunteering can have on your lives and the lives of others.  Then, begin the planning process.

2. Define your guidelines

  • What are you looking for in a volunteer experience?
  • How often do you want to volunteer?
  • What kind of impact do you want to make?
  • What is age appropriate for everyone in the family?
  • What are you comfortable with?
  • Do you want to volunteer with the same organization each time, or try different experiences?

3. Brainstorm ideas as a family

Try to incorporate your family and individual interests into your volunteer efforts. If there’s a little animal lover, environmentalist, athlete or future chef in your household, offer them volunteer opportunities that parallel personal passions. It will make the experience more meaningful and fun and help your children understand how sharing their skills and talents can help others.

4. Be prepared and make it fun

Before volunteering, find out what activities you’ll be participating in and explain the details to your kids so they understand what is expected of them. Make it fun.  Build a countdown to Family Volunteer Day calendar, take pictures during the event (where appropriate) and praise your kids for good work and positive attitudes.

5. Reflect together

After you volunteer together, take some time to talk about what your family did. What did you like best and what could have gone better or differently. Talk about the people you helped and what your efforts mean to them.

6. Celebrate and document

After the event, celebrate the good work you did together.  Cook a special dinner, share a picnic, or go out for ice cream.  Create a Giving Scrapbook that documents your efforts and keep it on a shelf where everyone can pull it out and reminisce.   And, begin planning your next Family Volunteer Day.  Enjoy!

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