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Traditional Volunteering

Traditional volunteering is what we typically think of when someone says “volunteer”: it's delivering meals, planting trees, walking dogs at an animal shelter. However, traditional volunteering can be much more than that.

There are two main types of volunteer service: direct service and indirect service. Direct service is the examples listed above: those types of roles and projects where volunteers deliver services and interact with the public, often serving as the face of an organization. However, indirect service is often just as needed. This is the behind the scenes work that keeps an organization effective and sustainable: fundraising, website development, writing, photography, assisting with social media, office and administrative tasks like data entry. If you're someone who wants to lend a hand but doesn't want (or may not be able) to be in a public position, this can be a great way to help out. It's also a great fit for introverted folks who may be less keen on the social aspects of traditional service.

Another lens to apply to traditional volunteering is whether you want to lead or be part of the team. How much responsibility are you seeking and reasonably able to sustain? How much time do you have available to dedicate to a task or project? Consider these questions to help you figure out the kinds of roles that most appeal to you and fit with your life (we have tools and quizzes to help you with this!)

Finally, what do you want to do? Do you want to lend specific skills and talents – things you do as part of your job or hobbies? Or would you prefer to do something else entirely? If you sit behind a desk all day, maybe you want to get outside; if you are a young professional just beginning your career, perhaps you want to learn something new and outside your field to diversify your skills. It's entirely up to you.

Keep in mind that traditional volunteer projects can be for one hour/one day or 20 hours a week. It can be for one time only or it can be an ongoing commitment of over a year. It can be a board position or mentorship role, positions with substantial responsibility, or something where you show up the day of and might need only five minutes of training before you get started. It can be something you do alone – possibly even from home – or as a member of a larger group or team. It really just depends on the role, the tasks and activities, and what you can do. Fortunately, there are so many great volunteer roles out there, you're bound to find one that fits for you!

Ready to get started? Consider using one of our quizzes or activities to identify how you might most want to participate; you can also learn more about a few key feminist issues on which to take action here. Then, start your research. Use websites like Idealist.orgVolunteerMatch, Taproot, and Catchafire to find existing volunteer opportunities with organizations in your community – or around the world. Can't find something you like? Consider creating a role of your own! New to volunteering? Check out for tips and tricks for how to find the right role for you.

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