Today I’m going to talk to you about volunteering.
If you missed my Reasons to Donate post, click here!
I have spent my career working with volunteers. Not just because I need a paycheck but because this is where my passion lies. I love connecting with people who want to make a difference in other’s lives – who know that there is always something they can do to make someone’s day better (and they want to!).
If you aren’t sure about volunteering this holiday season, let me get a few myths out of the way.
- You have to commit a lot of time. Nope. Wrong. Organizations are happy to have you even if it’s for one hour once a year.
- You have to be super passionate about the cause you choose. Wrong again. All you need to have is curiosity and the urge to help others. Which leads me to the next myth –
- You have to be familiar with the work you will be doing. Nope. We all have to start somewhere. It’s good for everyone to experience something new!
With that being said, if you’re interested in volunteering, here are some places you can start –
#5 – Idealist.org. Idealist makes my list because not only does it provide volunteer opportunities for your area, it also provides job and internship opportunities. They also make it really easy to narrow down your search, so you aren’t stuck scrolling through pages of things you’re not interested in!
#4 – Help from Home. I really love Help from Home because it gives busy people the opportunity to make a difference when otherwise they wouldn’t have the chance due to time restraints. If you’re all over the place but still want to help someone – do it from home in your pajamas! A lot of volunteer opportunities also require at least a year’s commitment so with this option, you have a little more flexibility. Even if you only have an hour to spare, that is still enough time to make a difference in someone’s life!
#3 All for Good.org. This is another simple and easy to use search engine for volunteer opportunities. Nothing special – which is just what you need sometimes. You can narrow down your search by area, topic, and cause. It will also let you search for home-based opportunities.
#2 Volunteer Match – As someone in the position of finding volunteers, this is my favorite platform to use. Volunteer Match has over 117,000 participating organizations and has matched millions of caring people like you to causes they believe in. Among those 117,000+ organizations, almost 4 million volunteers are needed! You can search by topic, cause, area, and even age! With so many organizations participating on this site, you’re sure to find something that speaks to your heart.
#1 Go Rogue – Aren’t finding what you want on those sites? Go rogue! Google for lists of local nonprofits in your area or search sites like United Way for your area if Google is too messy. Any nonprofit will always be happy to have a new volunteer because trust me – they need you. Even if it’s only for one event, one day, or one hour. Anything helps, and you are so valuable to them!
I know everyone is busy so even if you only do it once, I encourage you to volunteer with an organization at least once in your life. It’ll change you in ways you hadn’t imagined possible.
If you’re still trying to find ways to give back this holiday season, here are a few more ideas for volunteering you can do on your own that come with less commitment:
- Make blessing bags for the homeless. This is a personal favorite. How many times do we walk by a homeless person or avoid making eye contact because we think we can’t help or we don’t know what to do? With a Blessing Bag, you will be meeting their very basic needs with items like water, food, and toiletries.
1a. As someone who has worked with foster youth for years, this is also a great thing to do for them, too. Whether they live in a group home or foster home, many of their needs aren’t being met. From my experience, the boys always need underwear, socks, and deodorant and the girls need deodorant, underwear, and feminine products. Keep this in mind as I list item ideas for Blessing Bags below! You can reach out to organizations who work with foster youth and ask if they’d like you to donate blessing bags for them to distribute to the kids.
Blessing Bag Items:
- Gallon sized zip-lock bag
- Bag of quarters
- Bottle of water
- Baby wipes
- First aid kit
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Feminine hygiene products
- New socks and underwear
- Granola bars, beef jerky sticks, or breakfast bars
- Note of encouragement
You can get most of these items from Dollar Tree where everything is a dollar. You also don’t have to follow my list. You can always make your own! These are just some of the things I know of from first-hand experience that people have an immediate need for. It really would make such a huge difference in someone’s life. If this is too much for you, carrying a case of water in your car to give a bottle out when you see someone with a sign is great, too! There’s always an option for everyone.
- Make cards for nursing home residents or soldiers.
- Donate clothes, toys, and books.
- Donate food to your local food pantry.
- Visit with residents at a nursing home.
- Sponsor a child for Christmas.
- Make bag lunches for a homeless shelter.
- Do chores for an elderly neighbor or relative.
- Write a letter or make a gift for a coach, teacher, or bus driver.
- Simply donate to an organization in need.
I hope this has inspired you, even if just a little, to dip your toe in the waters of volunteerism. There are so many ways for you to get involved in a way that is just right for you. I’m always available if anyone has any questions about volunteering and how to get started!
I know I have a lot of subscribers involved with Community Development so stay tuned for a post just for you on managing and retaining volunteers. Everyone has slow seasons but there are so many ways to remedy that – don’t stress!
If you haven’t yet, head over to Facebook and follow the Joyful & Jittery page. I’m always available there if you have any questions or things you want to chat about.
Thanks for hanging out today!