“I don’t have time to volunteer.” “My schedule is so crazy I don’t have a minute to spare.” “I want to give back, but I don’t even know where to start.”
Listen… life is busy. I get it! As a full-time working mama to a very active 15-month-old, I understand the daily grind of sometimes just surviving a 24-hour time period. There is sometimes not enough coffee to keep you going in a day as your work duties pile up and house chores are just as high. Plus add in being a supportive spouse, partner, parent, sibling, and… and…. and.
But as hectic as life is, I am a true advocate that if you’re willing to take control of your time management skills, your ability to volunteer and give back to your community is a possibility in what may seem like a never-ending day of craze.
Here are a few tips:
Take advantage of your personal skills.
Many of us have a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. day job. Regardless of being in an industry for a year or 30 years, someone values your skills and looks at you as a subject matter expert in your field. (Say it again, you are an expert. Remove those impostor syndrome thoughts from your head!) So why not use your skills to better a local nonprofit you resonate with who may be in need?
Do you love graphic design? Offer your skills to build flyers or invites for an upcoming gala. Love social media? Many nonprofits can’t afford to hire a dedicated social media staff member. Offer your skills as support to help them plan, prep and schedule posts. Is crisis communications your jam? Be on standby if a CEO needs to make a quick call to bounce around some ideas as they undergo some challenging times.
Whether you’re writing press releases, lining football fields or committing two years to be the treasurer of your local food bank, your skills are valued, and appreciated, by nonprofits. Many nonprofits are understaffed, underpaid and need your help. Just like you would pitch a new client, pitch yourself and your abilities. I’m almost positive they will want your support once they see your stellar background.
See if your work accepts volunteer hours (sometimes during the workday!)
Does your company support volunteerism? I hope the answer is yes! But if the answer is no, chat with your HR team to see if a company-wide volunteer program can be instituted.
Corporate volunteering allows companies to develop proper social relationships with community members who are primary organizational stakeholders. It also enables corporations to engage in meaningful social and environmental causes to improve community members’ welfare.
Is time a constraint? Some companies offer employees paid time off for volunteering, while others allow you to log your volunteer hours during your normal workday. That’s right, keep your weeknights free.
One thing that I absolutely love about being at Maven is that fact that I can dedicate work hours towards my volunteering with Ainsley’s Angels of America. As the senior vice president of marketing and communications, I’ve taken on a big role within the organization being responsible for all aspects of our print, digital and social initiatives. While most of my time volunteering is done during the early mornings or after baby is in bed, it gives me relief to know that if something pops up during the day and I have the bandwidth to not drop the ball on client work, I can easily dedicate an hour to whatever arises (and my bosses support it!) A true win-win situation.
Happy employees make happy companies. Fun fact: 81% of millennials believe corporations should practice Corporate Social Responsibility and support good citizenship. This stat indicates that millennials want companies to integrate CSR within their business models and strategies. (As a fellow millennial – I say here, here!)
Pick a nonprofit that lights your fire
It can feel challenging to select the right nonprofit to support. You want to help a cause you care about, while also making sure you’re working with an organization that’s making a true, significant impact.
Here are some tips to help you select the right one with confidence.
- Decide what you’re passionate about. Do you find yourself scrolling social media with your Instagram feed covered in dog photos? Maybe you want to give back to your local animal shelter. Do you love kids and education? Look into a local nonprofit supporting youth literacy. Do you have a special place for the special needs community? Look into Special Olympics. The topics that stick with you help reveal what causes are truly close to your heart.
- Look at similar organizations. It isn’t a secret that there are multiple organizations working to address similar issues. Research a few and decide which ones most closely align with your philanthropic goals.
- Create a relationship with an organization. Many of us are eager beavers and we want to go all in right away. But as we all know, relationships take time to cultivate. Ask the nonprofit questions. Sign up to attend an event to understand the feel of their work and staff. From there, slowly get more involved and offer your skills that can better the overall organization.
- Commitment issues? Don’t fret. The beauty of volunteering is that there are so many options! If you’re unclear about where to start, opt for a series of short-term volunteer stints with different organizations that allow you to apply your leadership or practical skills and grow your capabilities.
As a fellow philanthropist who dedicates much of my time to volunteerism, I hope this is helpful information to help you land your next volunteer role. And remember that they are lucky to have you!