The 3-Question Litmus Test for Volunteers

Marshall Rathmell |

You want to give your time to a non-profit?

When I discuss non-financial goals with clients, I hear it all the time. “I want to be a good citizen.” “We want to be good role models for our children.” “When I retire, I want to find somewhere to volunteer.”

But how do you decide which worthy cause? So many boards of directors, mentoring opportunities, and animal rescues. Or you could still join the Peace Corps.

This is the 3-question litmus test I use when I look at opportunities myself.

1)Am I passionate about the mission?

When I volunteer, I want to really engage with the purpose of the project. I want to love telling people about it. I need to “own it,” or I pass.

2)Can I make an impact?

I’m not looking for something to add to my resume. I want to make a difference. Will my specific talents be valuable? When the project is complete, will I look back and see the impression I left?

3)Do I have enough time?

Can I devote enough time to this project? Does it conflict with my other activities? Could the time required balloon to a larger commitment that I might not find manageable?

When I go through the process of asking myself these questions I am never left in doubt. Volunteer opportunities either “pass the litmus test” or they don’t. So, I recommend asking yourself these questions whenever you are faced with an opportunity to work with a non-profit. The next step always becomes clear.