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Volunteering When You Are Time Challenged

I believe most people want to volunteer and give back to their community. Let’s face it, there are only 24 hours in a day and most of us have to work and sleep. Many of us have families to take care of, not to mention the basic running around you have to do to keep your life in order. It probably seems impossible to fit in a couple hours a week or even a month to volunteer for an organization. My advice, don’t think of it in terms of time committed; instead look at it as matching your passion to a worthy cause. What does this mean? If you feel very strongly about a cause or mission, then you can figure out what your contribution is to help make an impact at the right organization. Maybe you start with a donation, and then you may be able to move to a single project for the year. For example, you could work on the yearly fundraiser that has a set amount of time and an end date.

If this sounds feasible, then here are a few suggested steps you can take to get started:

  1. Determine your personal passion and interest. Believe me, there is a non-profit that focuses on it.

  2. Research your options and look at the charities website to make sure their mission and projects match your interest. Make a list of your top 5.

  3. Call your top choice and speak to the person in charge of volunteers. Tell them what area you would like to volunteer your time and how much time you are able to give.

  4. Before you commit, take a tour of their office and meet the employees. This will give you a flavor for the environment.  Ask yourself if these are people you would like to spend time with in any capacity? This isn’t a job; you don’t have to work with people you don’t like to be around.

  5. Consider volunteering as a way to either develop new skills or expand your experience in your current field.

  6. Don’t over think it. Jump in and start helping.

  7. After six months, evaluate the organization, your contribution, and whether or not you can do more…or less.

  8. Don’t feel guilty if this is not a match. Be professional and let the organization know you can’t work with them anymore. All is not lost, go back to your list of organizations and choose the next one on your list.

To some people this could sound overwhelming and too time consuming. All is not lost. Find a friend who volunteers and join them. This gives you a chance to spend more time together and “do good.”

Life is stressful enough, and at the end of the day volunteering should be a fulfilling experience that feeds your soul and spirit.



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