Maybe you’ve been wanting to give back to your community for a long time. And if you’re like most people and are super busy balancing work obligations and raising a family, this can be easier said than done. Here are some simple ways you can get started volunteering when you don’t have a lot of time:
Find Ways to Volunteer at the Workplace
Check with your employer to see if you might be able to take some paid time off to volunteer. Some companies offer a volunteer program where you can take some paid time off to give back to the community. Check with your employer to see if this is something that is offered. Regardless, volunteering through your workplace is a great way to bond with your coworkers outside of work and would make for a rewarding team-building activity.
Get Involved With Your Kid’s School
Just like with volunteering at the workplace, you can kill two birds with one stone by lending a helping hand at your child’s school. It’s a great way to get involved in your kid’s lives and meet other parents.
It can also be used as a time to cater to your passions. Work with staff and teachers to see what their needs are and what holes are filled. If you possess a love for theater, put on your thespian hat on and teach an acting class. Or if you have a green thumb, you can teach a gardening workshop.
Make a Donation
If you’re short on time, consider donating supplies or making a monetary donation to a nonprofit of your choice, suggests Athena Lent of Money Smart Latina. You don’t have to spend an exorbitant amount, either. “Think of a donation close to your heart and spend $10 or so next time you’re shopping,” says Lent. Many nonprofit organizations have a handy wish list of much-needed items posted on their website. If you shop for supplies at a local brick and mortar store rather than a big box chain, that would also help small businesses in the community.
Enlist the Help of Your Friends
You can also try posting a Facebook update or on another social media platform asking your connections about volunteer opportunities, suggests Jason Vitug, founder of Phroogal and author of You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life. “It’s a great place to start because your friends and connections may share more similar interests,” Vitug explains. “You can boost your posts with a hashtag to extend your post’s reach, like #volunteer or #volunteeropportunity.”
Better yet, you can get a group of your friends together to volunteer. Find a cause you are all passionate about, and reach out to some organizations that would be a good fit. While popular times to volunteer are during the holidays, volunteering during the “off-season” is a good time to start since you might not be as crazed with the frenzy of the holidays. You can look for volunteer opportunities on sites such as VolunteerMatch or Idealist.org, which oftentimes have one-time volunteerships so you can get your feet wet.
You can also do a quick Google search to find opportunities. Start with what you care about. “Think about the issue that has you talking to your TV or shaking your head each time you think about it,” suggests Michelle Jackson of the Shop My Closet Project. Then go to Google and use the issue as a search term to find organizations in your community that you can volunteer with.”
You can also reach out to your local credit union to learn more about CO-OP Purpose, a new initiative by credit unions to take make impactful change in their community and to ultimately advance their mission of empowering peoples’ financial well-being. You can find out about ways to volunteer through this cool new initiative.
Sure, it can be a constant struggle to juggle all your obligations and competing priorities. Even if you’re short on time, you can find ways to give back to the community that are in step with what you care most deeply about. Afterall, as Vitug explains, “volunteerism is part of creating a purposeful life. Time is money, and when we invest time into things greater than ourselves we are serving a purpose.”