Volunteering Ideas

At the bottom of this page are links to volunteering resources.

First, a few thoughts about the benefits to you of volunteering.

Many people who read personal development blogs are the same kind of people who look for ways to volunteer; to help others; to make the world a better place.

If volunteering isn’t something you have done, I strongly urge you to do so, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances.

Volunteering is proven to be good for your health and your happiness. Studies have shown that people who volunteer live longer.

Volunteering is also a great tool in the fight against depression because it’s easier to temporarily forget about your own problems when you shift your focus to helping others.

You can volunteer alone and you can also use volunteering time to spend more time with your family and friends if you arrange to volunteer together.

Following your passion is key. Are there particular causes that are important to you? You need to be happy with what you’re doing and to work in an area where you have ability.

If you are not happy, don’t be reluctant to make a change. It’s not selfish to change. You will be of greatest service to the world if you spend time doing things you enjoy, that you are good at.

Like every other change you want to make in your life, start slow. Don’t do too much, too fast. It’s easy to get caught up and soon find yourself in over your head in terms of the type of work you are doing or the time commitment. If you volunteer for too many things, or give too much time too soon, the endeavor will have backfired for you and the organizations you’re helping.

At the same time, it’s good to jump in with a “just do it” spirit. Making a commitment may be the best way to make volunteering a part of your busy schedule. Otherwise, you’re likely to say, “I would love to, but I’m too busy.”

It’s easier than ever to find ways to be of service:

  • If you are a member of a church, synagogue, or other religious organization, ask there.
  • Ask your friends what they do.
  • If you practice yoga, ask your yoga instructor. At the risk of stereotyping (though a positive stereotype,) every yoga instructor I’ve met has been involved in service activities.
  • And so much more—just start Googling!

There are many ways to get involved. You could:

  • Donate clothing, furniture, and other possessions to those in need. (Side benefit: You will declutter your house/apartment.)
  • Set up a collection program at your office for money and non-perishables. (Make sure you thank everyone each time you write a check from the program to charity, or deliver the filled bucket to the local pantry.)
  • Ride in bike-a-thons, run or walk in 5Ks, or if you’re an ambitious athlete, participate in marathons and triathlons.
  • Volunteer to help with bike-a-thons, 5Ks, etc. They always need volunteers the day of the event at registrations tables and more.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen/homeless shelter.
  • Teach English as a second language as a literacy volunteer, or as a first language to kids or grown-ups who need help. Google “Literacy Volunteers” and look for opportunities in your area.
  • Tutor kids in math or any other subject.
  • And so much more—once again, check Google!

Here are some links to help you find volunteering opportunities:

(Note: The following resources are mostly USA-based. Google will help you to find opportunities in your area if these resources are not a match for your part of the world.)

http://www.unitedway.org/take-action/volunteer

http://www.voa.org/Get-Involved/Volunteer/Volunteer_Locally

http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/take-action/be-a-volunteer.html

Many of the thoughts I have shared here are from a piece I wrote on the wonderful Tiny Buddha web site. Read the complete piece here.

Best regards,

David

p.s. If you have any thoughts to share, whether about the benefits of volunteering, or suggestions for ways for people to get involved, please join the conversation with your comments…