In these tough economic times, people are looking for innovative ways to get involved in their local communities, enrich lives and make a difference. Fortunately, as the charitable spirit continues to spread throughout the United States, getting involved has become easier and less expensive than ever as corporations, nonprofits and schools have actively encouraged citizens worldwide to volunteer their free time to those who need it most.
With volunteering, there is no right or wrong way to get involved. Rather, there are a number of ways to incorporate it into your everyday life and really make it count. Here are a few small things to consider when looking for opportunities that make a big impact.
Find an Inspirational Cause
Identify an organization or cause in your community that really matters to you. To find a place to volunteer in your area, use Web services, like VolunteerMatch (www.VolunteerMatch.org), which are dedicated to bringing together good people and good causes. VolunteerMatch offers an array of programs to support community and civic service 365 days a year, and any nonprofit organization can join its network.
Make it a Family Affair
Find a fun volunteer event that’s not only free, but also allows your family to play their part in making the world a better place. Many people find that giving to the community can be a rewarding and exciting way to instill values in children, encourage teamwork and foster a positive attitude within the home. Working together as a family is especially rewarding when you choose to support an organization that has special significance or meaning.
Find an Employer That Fosters Volunteerism
Many companies are moving toward the trend of offering employees volunteer opportunities. For example, team members at Target have volunteered millions of hours to community projects, from assembling and distributing disaster relief kits to reading to young people and helping with library makeovers at local schools. If your employer doesn’t offer a company-wide volunteer program, consider starting one.
Change the World ... One Simple Act at a Time
The old saying ‘no good deed goes unnoticed’ is absolutely true. It’s not about a huge cash donation, but rather about finding small yet everlasting ways to touch people’s lives, such as grocery shopping for the elderly or chaperoning neighborhood children to a sporting event. No effort is too small.
Grow Your Skills
The great thing about volunteer work is that it’s not only good for the cause, but also for the people who donate their time. Volunteerism is a way to develop new skills, discover new areas of interest and connect with other people in the community.
Don’t Over-Commit Your Time
Let volunteering be fun and rewarding. If you’re short on time, utilize your online skills to help students with homework, or electronically visit with someone who is homebound or in the hospital. Whatever you do, make sure it’s a choice. After all, that’s why it’s called volunteer work.