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Simply put, volunteer work seeks to solve a problem. It’s rewarding and helps people who are in genuine need. While volunteering is great in any form, when you find a charity you truly love and have a passion for, it becomes much more fulfilling and easier to form relationships with the people you work with.

Colleges more and more are relying upon volunteer hours to serve as a differentiating factor in applications. Dedication to one particular charity shows commitment and gives you wonderful experiences to talk about on applications. Here is some advice for finding a charity you will love to volunteer for.

1. Think about what makes you excited

I absolutely love the holidays. What I admire most about them is witnessing people’s reactions to opening presents or seeing their house decorated for the first time. Usually I chose to celebrate the holidays by volunteering for a charity. I’ve packed an Operation Christmas Child shoebox every year since I was in kindergarten. Something about picking out gifts for a kid an entire continent away thrilled me. I even got a letter back one year from a child that received my box! Find a way to incorporate your volunteering experience into the little things that make you happy in everyday life

2. Consistency is key

I’ve had some less-than-enjoyable volunteering experiences, and most of those bad first impressions made me want to run and never volunteer again. I chose to go back, though, and I never once regretted it. You have to be unafraid to put yourself in an unfamiliar situation and actually give yourself a chance to like it. Don’t let one bad experience chase you away from a wonderful opportunity for personal growth.

3. Get others involved with you

Everthing is more fun with friends! Mission trips and packing trips with some close friends are some of my happiest memories and are a wonderful way to spend time together. It’s also a great way to recruit volunteers for the charities that you love!

4. Ask to organize events

Some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had volunteering were the events I planned. They allowed me to combine my love of hosting people with the work that made me feel so fulfilled. Whether it’s a fundraising event geared towards marketing and drawing people in, or an in-house event that provides relief to people for a day, these special moments often affect people beyond their immediate time there.

5. Seek out career opportunities

Something on my bucket list is to dedicate part of my time in the workforce to working for a nonprofit. Many nonprofits have positions or paid internships that allow you to dedicate your passion full or part time. Even if you can’t work for the nonprofit of your choice, setting up volunteer blocks for the people you work with is a great way to have an office retreat or to give back to the community.

Volunteer work is wonderful, no matter how you do it, but when you truly form connections and become passionate, amazing things can happen. I encourage you to get involved with a nonprofit today and truly make a difference in your community.

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