How to Become A Volunteer

November 16, 20122 Comments

You don’t need to have a lot of money or know celebrities to make a big change – there are a ton of things you can do right in your own community for FREE. Volunteering your time is a productive and positive way to lend a helping hand. Whether it’s walking dogs at the local animal shelter, passing out meals at your local hospital, or reading books to kids at the library, there are lots of different ways you can show your support.

1. Find a Cause You Care About

Volunteering can be a way to explore the subjects that are most important to you in life. Sometimes school or work doesn’t give us that opportunity, but as a volunteer, you can explore any subject under the sun. So what do you really care about? Who or what would you like to help? Which organizations share the same values and goals as you? How much of a time commitment are you willing to make? Will you get school credit for participating? These are all important questions you need to address before you sign up for anything. Once you have a clear direction of which way you want to go, you can start researching different organizations.

2. Do Your Research is a great website for finding volunteer opportunities by location and subject. Idealist lists over 5,000 animal organizations both in the U.S. and abroad that are seeking volunteers. You could help fundraise for an animal orphanage, bring animals to visit people in hospitals, or help feed elephants in Thailand! Spend some time thinking about what your skills are and what you actually enjoy doing and then see if you can find an organization that is searching for just that type of volunteer.

3. Reach Out

Once you’ve narrowed down the organizations that interest you, reach out to them to see what opportunities they might have available to people in your age group. You can do this by emailing the address on their website or calling them on the phone. Tell them why you’re interested in working with them and when you’d be available to help out.

4. Attend Your First Event

Once you’ve signed up to volunteer, make sure you know what’s expected of you before you attend your first event. Do you need to fill out any paperwork? Do you need to bring any supplies? Be prepared and show up on time. When you are at your volunteer job, give it your all! Volunteering can be a wonderful way to gain professional skills and positive references. If you shine in your volunteer job, the organization will give you more and more responsibility and other interesting opportunities may open up for you. Volunteering can give you a great jumpstart on your career, so bring your best.

5. Pat Yourself on the Back

Whether you volunteer for one event or start volunteering somewhere weekly, give yourself a pat on the back! You contributed to something positive and helped make a difference in someone’s life. Helping others is such a rewarding experience, you’ll find yourself looking at ways you can do even more.  Give back, have fun, make friends – everyone wins!

Ready to get started?

JulietteSpeaks is always looking for more people to help with the cause. To start on your path to helping endangered elephants, click the Get Involved tab on the website. It will prompt you from there and show you how you can get started on making a difference. You can also research local animal shelters in your town to see if they take on volunteers.

These animal organizations have great elephant programs and always need people to volunteer their time. Check them out:


Photo Credit: Elephant Kisses at Elephant Nature Park by

Filed in: Advocacy TrainingAllCurriculumVolunteer

About the Author ()

Maggie is a former Tiger Beat senior staff writer who used to rock out with the Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber in sunny Los Angeles before she decided to relocate to fabulous San Francisco. She has always been interested in animal rights and fell in love with elephants during her travels to Tanzania, Kenya, and Thailand.

Comments (2)

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  1. carol says:

    Dear Juliette and Maggie,

    Thanks for the tips. I live in northern California and I am volunteering at a veterinarian’s office on weekends to feed and walk some dogs (and clean up the wet newspapers). The office is closed on the weekends so there is not a lot of people there so I get to really get spend some one on one time to learn all the personalities of the animals. I am beginning to see that all animals have feelings and personalities and deserve attention with respect and care. Just because they can’t speak English, I can tell they have something to say. I see it in their eyes!
    I often think , what if we couldn’t speak and we were ‘disabled’ somehow that we couldn’t function as a normal ‘human’, ( what if we couldn’t talk, if our hands could not write our names or could not turn a door knob to open or close a door, or if we couldn’t use a fork or knife to eat, or understand written signs? Then we would just be communicating with out eyes!). I would hope that someone would not just treat me like an IT or some object that doesn’t have feelings or needs! I see these animals and know they all have something to say, but we just don’t know what it is? but does that mean we can’t give them love and respect or try to understand.
    I guess what I am saying is, if I were one of these animals in these ‘cages’, at least I could look forward to some kind compassion and love and soft tone of a caring voice interacting with me as long as I had to live in a ‘humans’ world, or worse yet in a cage/jail, rather than the environment I am supposed to be in, like the wild. I think we are asking animals to adapt or behave how we want them in our world, when they never asked to be in our world, its just they have been forced to be in a human environment because some human years ago either build on their land and displaced them, or captured them against their will and forced them to adapt. I now see it is unnatural for them, but they are adapting (or they will be killed), so at least we can thank them and be kind!
    I can’t even imagine living a life when I did something natural, like sneeze or laugh, but someone didn’t think it was what they wanted me to do at that time and stuck me with a bull hook!!!!
    I guess I am saying is, by following your idea of volunteering, I wanted to see how I could help animals without being a professional and only having a few hours on a weekend, and I have learned so much more than that! I have learned that animals have feelings and I am learning compassion for all beings, and that is something that some adults with lots of education and years of experience, even vet’s still haven’t learned!!!!!!!!!!! I now feel , I can speak my mind to any adult and tell them what I have learned and show them what they still need to do so THEY can help!!

    • admin says:

      Thanks for sharing! I’m so glad you have a passion for animals just like me! I think the best way you could help elephants is by advocating for the elephant at your local zoo to get into the PAWS sanctuary. Write letters to local city council, or help fundraise for PAWS. Also, you could write letters to travel agencies that promote elephant trekking in Asia, and urge them to stop providing that activity.

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