By Will Driscoll
“The great thing about being a volunteer is that no one can tell you what to do”—that’s my favorite quote from a climate meeting. In other words, if you’re ready to volunteer, you can define your own role. It may require some initiative to find—or create—the role you want; this article can help you get there.
Expertise is helpful in many roles, yet there are also many starting points. Roles for volunteers of any skill level include learning about an environmental issue, as a step toward action; participating in public events; working on an issue campaign; and generating campaign or policy ideas–and if your idea captures the interest of other volunteers, you may be the best person to run with it. During election campaigns, climate-friendly candidates welcome volunteers.
Roles that may require some experience or knowledge include recruiting volunteers; helping volunteers find a role that fits their interests; communicating externally; educating other citizens and elected officials, and convening volunteers to pursue a campaign goal (where relationships help ensure turnout).
The highest-skilled volunteer roles include campaign leader; issue analyst and communicator; idea evaluator and integrator; campaign or policy strategist; and volunteer recognition specialist–note that recognition counts most if it comes from a recognized leader.
If you choose to contribute your skills, know that your help is needed, and that it should be welcomed. So if you don’t feel appreciated, help recruit a volunteer recognition specialist, or start taking on that role yourself!