If you're a member of a faith group, a school or corporate program, volunteer opportunities often come to you. When you're putting together a volunteering life on your own, it can be more difficult to find your way, so you'll need to approach your search in the same way you might look for a job. First, make a list.
When you're looking for a volunteer opportunity, consider what's most important to you. For me, two factors top the list: geography, and issues. I live in an urban neighborhood within walking distance of both the business district and residential enclaves, and I want to be able to walk to my volunteer gigs as much as possible, to build in some exercise each day while leaving my car in its parking space. I made a list of the issues on which I want to focus my energy, in the order of urgency: working with immigrants, literacy, and economic empowerment for women. Armed with my list, my priorities (location, available time, programming, skills), and a willingness to consider all possibilities, I networked with friends, and I searched online for organizations that serve immigrants and refugees, within walking distance of my home, that also had literacy programs. Success! I set my sights on the International Institute of New England, where I didn't know a single soul and had no contacts. More about that next time.