Animal charity volunteering is a fantastic way to create change for animals, and can help you develop skills, connections and credentials to help you excel in your career. It also lets you test out your personal fit within different areas of work.
Many animal advocacy charities rely on grassroots support bases who get active without expecting anything in return. That’s fantastic, and we’re very grateful for the dedication of so many amazing animal advocates like you!
How to decide which projects to volunteer for?
There are many reasons why people may want to volunteer for animals:
Build a stronger connection with animals and motivation for animal advocacy
It is crucial to identify your own reasons for volunteering, so that you can be effective in accomplishing your goals, as well as access your actual impact and development.
Before starting volunteering, make sure to reflect on the following questions:
1 | Is volunteering for you?
Volunteering is not necessarily for everyone, especially not long periods of volunteering. There are often other methods that can be used to test your fit with a career path. For some ideas, see our skills profiles.
If you do volunteer, you should do what you find sustainable and make sure to look after yourself so that you can keep helping animals in the long-term.
For most people, volunteering should probably be a means to an end, rather than the end goal. You can probably help animals more by really focusing on a high-impact career path - to learn more about this, check out our animal advocacy online course.
2 | Do you want to volunteer within your skillset or try something different?
If you use your existing skills, your contribution will probably be less replaceable than if you volunteer for something unskilled and easy to replicate. You probably won’t need as much supervision or training, which will save the nonprofit time and resources (and consequently have a higher impact for animals).
Despite that, it might be more useful for you to explore your personal fit with a completely new skillset. In that case, you might want to focus on something you suspect you could become skilled at, rather than something you already are skilled at.
In any case, you should consider developing skills that are more aligned with your comparative advantage within the community.
3 | How to choose a volunteering project that’s highly effective for animals?
The most effective animal advocacy groups can help a far greater number of animals than some others, even with the same amount of time or resources. Here are the 3 steps you should take if your main reason for volunteering is to help animals:
1. Work out the most effective cause area
For example, at AAC we think that it’s usually more effective to help farmed animals than lab animals, because there are well over 100 times as many farmed animals as lab animals, perhaps over 1,000 times as many.
2. Work out the most effective animal activism tactics
Focus on organisations that pursue the types of tactics that seem to achieve the most for the animals they focus on.
3. Find out how well individual organisations have made use of their available resources when implementing those tactics
It wouldn’t be a great idea to work for an organisation that wasn’t very good at actually carrying out its tactics, unless you thought you had a good chance of turning the organisation around and making it work more cost-effectively.
Learn more about how to find an effective animal volunteering project on our blog post about working for animal advocacy groups.
"It feels great to know that you’re contributing to a cause that’s important to you. Making an impact for a charity with your hours and effort is more satisfying for me than donating to that charity."
— Sofia Balderson, at Why You Should Consider Skilled Volunteering