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Skill-Based Volunteerism

Interpersonal Skills


Volunteering is a wonderful way of giving and loving others. Volunteer opportunities come in unlimited forms and with thought, you should be able to find something that’s right for you. Skill-based volunteering is about using your skills, talents and experiences. Some people seek to learn new skills and aptitudes through volunteering, others seek to apply their specialized skills in their volunteer role. This is skills-based volunteering.

Skill Definition:

  • I know my strengths and talents and can identify a volunteer opportunity that energizes me.
  • I can target and engage an organization to offer my talents.

Key Learning Points:

  • Volunteer opportunities exist everywhere in our local communities. We can pursue these directly via a social service agency, through our church or web sites such as VolunteerMatch.
  • Organizations don’t always know how to engage “skilled” resources so it becomes necessary to network and “sell”. This effort pays off in getting an energizing and purposeful volunteer assignment. You are looking for a fit between an organization and your needs.

Faith Worldview:

  • Our faith helps us see our “connectedness” with others. Volunteering is a way to put our faith into practice.

Learning Path:

  • Develop a deep personal understanding of your passions, talents and needs. In particular, define your strengths and unique talents and characteristics that can benefit others. See the Life Purpose wiki.
  • Identify target organizations at which to volunteer. This is much like the Job Search process.
  • Identify your personal goals.
  • Experience a volunteer role and learn and grow from it.

Deeper Topics:

  • Skill-based volunteer roles. There are limitless possibilities, here are some examples:
    • Project leader…fund raising event, volunteer coordinator.
    • Teacher…financial or computer literacy.
    • Manager…Board member, partner to an executive director.
    • Supply chain…help with food pickup and distribution planning.
    • IT…help with web site.
    • Construction…help build a house.
    • Parent…mentor.
  • Volunteerism is an attitude. It is selfless service to others. Service can be performed formally through a given role or informally with family or people we meet. The “attitude” is simply seeking a way to add value and meaning to the life of another person.
  • Skill-Based vs. Capability-Building. Skill-based volunteerism leverages our skills to help an organization or person. Capability-building implies a transfer of skill to an organization or person to leave behind a sustainable capability.
  • Goals in Volunteering. Identify your personal goals (and motives). Goals may fall into areas such as spiritual, emotional, intellectual or physical. They may be practical such as creating a resume-building experience while unemployed or to developing a new skill. They could be more altruistic and just to serve a cause.
  • Organization Preparedness. Some organizations may not immediately know how to leverage your skills. You should be prepared to offer examples and do some “selling”. It is important to have a sponsor/manager within the organization you choose.

Exercises for Older Teens and Adults:

Exercises for Younger Teens (13-16):

  • None at this time.

Questions to Encourage Critical Thinking:

  • Why am I considering volunteering?
  • Do I have unique talents or skills to offer? How can I apply them?
  • What personal goals am I pursuing? What are my motives?

Tools and Templates:

Word Definition:

  • Volunteer. A person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.

 Web Sites/Short Stories/Essays:




Faith-Based Quotes:

  • “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35 ESV
  • “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t even have to make your subject and verb agree to serve…you only need a heart full of grace.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Other Quotes:

  • The heart of a volunteer is not measured in size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others.” — DeAnn Hollis
  • “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” — Winston Churchill
  • “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” — Chinese Proverb

One-Point Lesson:

Related Skills:

Summary 2-page Lesson Examples:

  • None at this time.