Too busy to volunteer? You may be able to make it work by finding a way to bring volunteering and the other “must-dos” of your life together.
Your family can go volunteer together. Coach a sport that you love. By finding a way to make volunteering a part of your life, you can experience its many benefits.
Volunteering can help you feel a sense of purpose, improve self-esteem and help connect you to others. It might even help your physical health, like lessening pain and depression.
How can you find the perfect volunteer opportunity? Start with thinking about what you’re interested in and combine your interests with the kinds of jobs and projects you do best.
Or go the opposite route. Burned out on your job as an accountant? Volunteer to help paint the theater set for a community play.
On the Homefront
If a long commute or living in a remote area keeps you from going out to volunteer, then let the volunteering come to you at home.
- Help write or edit a non-profit’s website or newsletter.
- Make blankets for cancer patients at Get Cozy During Chemo.
- Knit hats for newborns through the American Heart Association.
If your nine-to-five life is more sedentary then you’d like, use your volunteer time to get moving.
- Raise money for a charity while you train for a half or full marathon or cycle for an event with Team in Training.
- Find a local chapter of Girls on the Run or Let Me Run and you can become a volunteer and mentor.
- Game on! Sign up to coach your favorite sport and try Coach Across America, which teaches volunteer coaches how to help players with self-esteem issues.
Talking to children about giving their time and money is a great way to spark interest in giving. According to a recent study, talking to kids about giving may be more effective than role modeling alone.
So parents should both talk the talk and walk the walk. Even young children can join the conversation when it comes to ideas for how families give their time and money.
- Go green by getting your backyard garden or container garden officially named a wildlife garden through the National Wildlife Federation.
- Volunteer as a family to help at a Ronald McDonald House in your area.
This year, 52 percent of working Americans will lose unused vacation days. Don’t give up your earned days; put your time off to good use. Max out all those days and go on a volunteering vacation.
You can recharge, rejuvenate and take in a change of scenery while helping others.
- Go abroad to experience other cultures and help the world through Globe Aware.
- If the country life is for you, WWOOF will put you down on the farm.
- Take a hike to help build and maintain our nation’s trails with the American Hiking Society.
Get Help Getting Connected
If you are looking to create that perfect match with a cause close to your heart, you can go online to be paired up with your next volunteering opportunity.
Since 1998, Volunteermatch.org has connected nearly 12 million volunteers with a wide range of opportunities across the country. From helping animals to working with veterans and everything in between, you can find your own way to make a difference.
*One hour of volunteering has a $23.07 cash equivalent, as calculated by Independent Sector from data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Sources: How parents teach children about charitable giving matters, new study finds, Indiana University–Purdue University Indiana, 2013; Most workers leave paid vacation time unused, a Bankrate survey finds, Bankrate survey report, December 2016