Sometimes a recent event opens our eyes to a dire cause and inspires us to give back, or we just come into some extra free time. Whatever the reason, welcome to the philanthropic train. It’s really nice here.
Whether donating to a big organization or volunteering your time to something more local, just the tiniest amount of help (no matter what form it comes in) can go a long way.
It may be hard to make a decision on which cause most speaks to you, and it can be overwhelming to sort through all the amazing organizations out there. It’s best to make your giving goals happen by keeping it simple and finding the areas you’re passionate about. Check out our guide to volunteering and giving back.
CHOOSE AN AREA OF INTEREST (OR A FEW)
It should come as no surprise that working for a cause and common goal you’re not only interested in, but passionate about will make the whole experience that much more enjoyable. Pick an area that fascinates you. And you don’t have to limit it to one!
Don’t be intimidated if it’s a topic you’re not an expert in; it’s totally okay to pick something you know nothing about! As long as you’re willing to learn and try something new.
HERE ARE A FEW AREAS TO CONSIDER:
- FOOD INSECURITY
- MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS
- DISABILITY SUPPORT
- POVERTY AND HOMELESSNESS
- ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
The next step is to do some research. Go online and look for opportunities to help out in your local community.
For volunteer events, look for nonprofits that are focusing on your area of interest. If you already have an organization in mind, pull up their website. From there, you’ll want to contact their volunteer coordinator. This can be an email address or phone number. Contact this person to see what events are on the calendar.
If you’re interested in donating, most sites will advise you on how to do so. Lots of organizations will allow you to setup auto-pay, so a specific amount is given per month or year.
The final step is to get involved. Figure out how much time you have to volunteer or how much extra money you have to donate. While you definitely want to make a difference, you also want to avoid overextending yourself. Decide if this is something you want to contribute on a consistent basis or if it’s a one-time thing. There is no right answer! It’s all up to you, and whatever you can give will be greatly appreciated.
COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECTS
If you don’t want to get involved with a big organization, there are plenty of opportunities to give back to the community through local groups. Most participate in community service as a way to help others and improve their community.
If there isn’t a collective effort around the issue you’re interested in, you can always form the group yourself!
HERE ARE A FEW COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECT IDEAS:
- LOCAL BLOOD DRIVE
- BAKE SALE FOR YOUR FAVORITE CHARITY
- DELIVER MEALS AND GIFTS TO HOSPITAL PATIENTS
- TUTOR KIDS AFTER SCHOOL
- DONATE TOYS TO THE LOCAL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
- DONATE FOOD AND CLOTHES
- COACH A KID’S SPORTS TEAM
- ORGANIZE A SPECIAL OLYMPICS EVENT
- DONATE USED BOOKS TO THE SCHOOL LIBRARY
- SERVE AS A COLLEGE MENTOR FOR STUDENTS
- WHO HAVE LOST A PARENT
- READ TO RESIDENTS OF A SENIOR LIVING FACILITY
- DRIVE SENIORS TO THEIR DOCTORS’
- APPOINTMENTS, OR HELP WITH LAWN CARE
- FOSTER A DOG OR CAT
- CLEAN UP AT THE LOCAL PARK
- START A COMMUNITY GARDEN
- VOLUNTEER AT A SOUP KITCHEN
- DONATE TO A HOMELESS SHELTER
- VOLUNTEER AT THE FIREHOUSE
- BECOME CPR-CERTIFIED
All of this is to say — there are countless ways to help out. Volunteering and giving back is good, plain and simple. It’s good for the cause you’re helping. It’s good for the community. And it’s even good for your mental health.