Many of us tend to think of others at Christmas and volunteering is a great way to give back, both on the day itself and in the lead up. Roles can vary from donating food and clothing, delivering care packages, cooking, befriending, working on a project or fundraising through a sponsored carol singing or bag packing. They’ll tend to be short-term or once-off opportunities. Bear in mind that organisations need your help throughout December, not just on the 25th.
Top tip. Start applying for opportunities sooner rather than later. Thanks to the generosity of so many people, Christmas volunteer roles tend to fill up fast. The more proactive you are, the more likely you are to find a role that suits you.
How to search for Christmas volunteering
1. Search I-VOL for Christmas volunteer roles
I-Vol is the national database for volunteering opportunities. Insert ‘Christmas’ into the keyword box and hit Search. Read each description carefully to decide if it matches your availability.
To apply for any of these roles, you will need to be registered with your local Volunteer Centre. If you are not registered, you will be prompted to do so when you hit the ‘Apply Now’ button at the bottom of the page. This should only take a couple of minutes and is completely free.
2. Contact the groups you are interested in volunteering with directly.
Think about the cause you would like to help, and start googling! Visit the organisation’s website to get a better idea of the work they do and how they involve volunteers.
Not all organisations advertise roles with the Volunteer Centre, particularly Christmas Day roles. The demand from volunteers is often so high they don’t need to advertise. Some organisations may not take on new volunteers for the Christmas period: It can be too much for the stretched resources of a charity to take short-term volunteers through the screening process and have people available to support them. Many will choose to only involve existing volunteers.
Volunteering on Christmas Day
The most common roles for Christmas day are cooking breakfast/ dinner, or delivering Christmas dinner. The popular cooking and catering roles fill up very fast.
The well-known RDS Christmas Day Dinner Service, has already finished recruiting for 2018. Run by the Knights of St. Columbanus, this opportunity closes as soon as they reach the quota, usually long before most people even think of volunteering at Christmas! You’ll have to keep an eye on this group’s registration page to volunteer in 2019.
Some organisations, such as Depaul and Alone, will collect and deliver dinners from the RDS on the day. Alternatively you can contact Community Centres, Meals on Wheels, Churches and Parishes to see if they need help on Christmas Day. In the main, Meals on Wheels operate independently, Health Centres will direct you to your local Meals on Wheels branch.
Waiting to hear back after applying to volunteer
Be patient, Christmas-time for a charity often means double the work load. Organisations always appreciate volunteers but managing a large volume of new requests can be a challenge at an already busy time of year. This can cause a huge strain for Volunteer Coordinators, who often have other responsibilities beyond recruiting and managing volunteers.
However if you haven’t received a reply after 10 days, we suggest you get back in touch to check in on the status of your application. If you emailed previously, then pick-up the phone and vice versa. Emails go to junk folders, voicemails get lost, we’ve heard it all!
Remember, volunteering is not just for Christmas!
Most organisations need volunteers all year round, even an hour a week or month can make a huge difference. You can search for opportunities now on I-VOL.