How to Volunteer for the YMCA

Becoming a YMCA Volunteer

If you have a skill -- or just some time on your hands -- the YMCA can probably help you use it for good. The Y works with five broad classes of volunteers:

  • Program volunteers - This group is the largest. It consists of the people who directly help the YMCA carry out its programming. They include teachers, tutors, workshop leaders, mentors, group facilitators, athletic coaches and trainers, bus drivers, nursery school staff, event hosts and staff, referees and other game officials, lifeguards and equipment maintenance workers. There are many other program-specific positions.
  • Support volunteers - This group consists of the administrators and office workers who help the programs run smoothly, including the registrars, receptionists, schedule planners and resource managers who help the organization coordinate its many different activities.
  • Fundraising volunteers - As a nonprofit, the YMCA relies on donations, so it needs plenty of fundraisers and grant writers. Development volunteers may be enlisted for staffing phone banks or stuffing envelopes. They may help coordinate fundraising events. Those with extensive experience in writing or development may be interested in helping the organization apply for grants or set development strategy.
  • Policy volunteers - This group includes board members and committee members (all must enter a longer-term relationship with the organization governed by its bylaws). A policy volunteer not only gives time and effort to the organization but also helps guide its direction and determine its programming and priorities.
  • Managerial volunteers - This group applies to trained professionals -- including accountants, lawyers, executives, designers and IT workers -- who donate their services pro bono.

[sources: YMCA Marin, YMCA Triangle Area]

To volunteer, you'll need to complete an application in which you describe your skills and experience. You'll be asked about your agreement with the YMCA's mission and your ability to uphold the mission through your work. You may need to provide references. You may also be asked to consent to a criminal background check, especially if you are applying for a volunteer position that would put you in contact with children [source: YMCA Triangle Area].

On the next page, we'll look at the benefits of volunteering.