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National Volunteer Week runs from April 21 to 27. (iStockphoto)
National Volunteer Week runs from April 21 to 27. (iStockphoto)

Have your say: How do we pick a high-impact place to volunteer? Add to ...

Craig and Marc Kielburger founded Free The Children and Me to We. Their biweekly Brain Storm column taps experts and readers for solutions to social issues.

As kids, we ponder for hours over what toy would be most impressive for kindergarten show and tell. Later, it’s what jeans to wear on that first date, what university offers the best program, what career would be most fulfilling and what cable package provides both hockey and zombie shows.

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Life is full of tough choices as we relentlessly pursue the smartest use of our time – zombie shows notwithstanding.

More than 13 million Canadians give their spare time to their communities, donating their energy and skills as volunteer coaches, fundraisers, advocates, mentors, board members, food sorters or pretty much any imaginable task in the service of others.

As we prepare to celebrate National Volunteer Week from April 21 to 27, in addition to thanking those volunteers, we ask everyone else, “Hey, what are you doing this weekend?”

Just as we want to choose the perfect charity to donate our hard-earned money, it’s important to pick the right place to give our precious volunteer hours. But where do we begin?

This week’s question: How can we each pick the best volunteer placement to maximize our impact?

The experts:

Randy Fowler, Prime Minister’s 2012 Volunteer Awards Lifelong Achievement recipient

“I was in a drinking and driving crash 30 years ago, and for the last 23 I’ve spoken to thousands of Grade 9 students, through many different organizations, to prevent them from making the same mistake. My advice is to find a cause you care about, find out what special gift you can contribute and give your time doing that for as many people – and as many organizations – as you can.”

Lori Gotlieb, national director of volunteer resources for the Arthritis Society

“Think in advance about what skills and experience you want to bring to your volunteering, and what your motivation is, so you and the organization can start a dialogue and find the right role that has meaning for everyone involved. Remember even the smallest role can have a ripple effect.”

Paula Speevak Sladowski, interim president of Volunteer Canada

“There are more ways than ever to get involved: micro-volunteer using social media, on the ground with a community organization, a leadership role on a board of directors, or anything in between. We call this the spectrum of engagement. To find your perfect match, contact your local volunteer centre or check out the online matching tool at GetInvolved.ca.”

Have your say in the comment section.

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