Volunteering can really help animals. A number of highly cost-effective animal advocacy charities rely on the support of large grassroots support bases who get active in support of the campaigns without expecting anything in return. That’s fantastic, and we’re very grateful for the dedication of so many amazing animal advocates.
When people volunteer for animals, they tend to be trying to do one or two of the following:
WHY “SKILLED” VOLUNTEERING?
Skilled volunteering is likely to be a more effective use of your time for helping animals than something unskilled or something you have no experience with:
Your contribution will probably be much less replaceable than if you volunteer for something unskilled and easy to replicate in large numbers. For example, trained accountants willing to give pro bono accounting support are harder to find than keen animal advocates willing to send emails or letters to politicians.
If you’re doing something that you’re already quite good at, you probably won’t need as much supervision or training, which will save the nonprofit time and resources. A trained accountant probably doesn’t need much instruction on how to reconcile an annual account, but it might take weeks or months to teach them how to be persuasive to a politician in face-to-face lobbying.
It’s also likely to be a better way for you to build career capital and test your personal fit with a career path:
You’re more likely to be focusing on developing skills that are more aligned with your comparative advantage within the community. If someone has been in accountancy for ten years, those skills are quite hard to come by, so even if they could also be great at lobbying politicians, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to start from square one trying to develop the skills and knowledge required.
If you’re doing something that you’re good at, you’re more likely to create a good impression of yourself and build useful connections and credentials. If an accountant helps a small nonprofit get through a difficult technical accounting problem, the nonprofit staff will probably be much more grateful and willing to strongly recommend them and help them make useful connections.
THE SKILLED VOLUNTEERING JOB BOARD
Here it is! Don't forget to check underneath for notes on how to use the job board well.
HOW TO USE THE SKILLED VOLUNTEERING JOB BOARD
Step 1: Find a volunteering opportunity you are interested in.
Scroll down to the “Skilled volunteering category” or categories that you have the most experience and skills in, then look for a more specific “Skilled volunteering type” that seems like it could be a good fit.
Alternatively, if you want to check for opportunities at a specific organisation, you can use the magnifying glass in the top right hand side of the job board window to search for their name.
Step 2: Double check that you are able to fulfil the commitment.
Ask yourself: Do you have the time to commit to volunteering reliably for this, at least for some period of time? Do you already have skills or experience that you can contribute?
Some people are overconfident and oversell their skills or don’t think realistically about their time availability — this will waste your time and the nonprofit’s time (perhaps doing more harm than good). However, other people undersell themselves or feel reluctant to reach out to nonprofits for something that isn’t formally advertised on their website. This is a great shame and may be a missed opportunity. Remember: if you contact an organisation in a concise, honest, and clear manner, you probably won’t take up much of their time at all if it doesn’t work out.
Step 3: Select one to three organisations to contact
There are several aspects to consider here:
Do you believe that the organisation does work that has high impact potential? This is not an easy question to answer, but many of the resources on this list will help you with thinking about that question.
Have they listed the “Skilled volunteering type” that you are interested in as being a high priority for them?
Do you know something about them that makes you think your skills are likely to be an especially good fit for their needs?
But don’t spend too long overthinking these things. Sometimes the best way to find out the answer is just to contact the organisation and work it out by speaking to them.
We suggest you reach out to one to three organisations at a time:
You might find that one or two organisations have listed something on here, but don’t have time to respond to you at the moment, have already found someone to fulfill the responsibilities that they were referring to, or it doesn’t work out for some other reason, so to save yourself time you might like to message more than one organisation.
However, you don’t want to contact too many organisations at once, since you might waste their time if they read through and reply to your message but you are no longer available.
Some people find it hard to turn down opportunities when they’re being asked for help — so if you contact too many organisations at once, you might end up overcommitting.
Step 4: Contact the organisation(s)
You can use this email template.
You can find each organisation’s preferred contact method here.
Step 5: Volunteer and help animals!
IS SKILLED VOLUNTEERING FOR YOU?
Volunteering is not necessary 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.
It might be more useful for you to spend your volunteering time exploring 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.
If you do volunteer, you should do what you find sustainable and make sure that you look after yourself so that you can keep helping animals in the long-term. If you use all of your spare time volunteering for animal advocacy organisations, you might get sick of it and give up.
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 (including possibly helping animals quite indirectly, such as through donations, or work in government and policy).
Not sure you can contribute any of these skills but still want to volunteer to help animals? No worries — you find each organisation’s other available volunteering opportunities here. And remember to check back periodically in case the listed opportunities change.
We try to make this a fairly comprehensive list of the opportunities at the included organisations. We contact each organisation once per month to see if they would like to update their entries.
As a small, new organisation, we have limited time to monitor job opportunities. We can be fairly confident that roles at these organisations will have high impact potential and will be of interest to many of our readers, without doing extra vetting, e.g. due to favourable evaluations by Animal Charity Evaluators. For the same practical reasons, we are unable to respond to unsolicited requests to promote particular vacancies or organisations on the board (for now). If this job board is popular, we may expand its remit to include other role types. If we don’t think it's achieving much, we may remove this job board at any point.