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When it comes to volunteer work, it can be a little challenging to find time in a busy schedule to help the causes that we care about. While donating money to nonprofit organizations and campaigns is truly helpful, volunteer work and hands-on help are necessary. And, if you don’t currently have the means to donate money to the issues you care about, donating some of your time is a great way to contribute meaningfully.
Unfortunately, our busy lives can make it somewhat challenging to make time for charitable work. And, with the restrictions of COVID still limiting the range of in-person activities available, regular volunteer opportunities may seem hard to come by. But, we’ve got some good news: it’s still possible to get in your fair share of volunteer work right now, even while working around your busy schedule.
Why should you volunteer?
Apart from the tangible change that you can implement by physically participating in service, volunteering can benefit your personal life. Helping other people makes us feel better about ourselves. In this way, it’s an act of self-care to do things for others. Effectively, volunteering can connect you with other people, help you in your career and make you feel more fulfilled.
Jo Johnson with Deafblind UK explains that volunteering helps hone skills valuable within your career path. “Volunteering can enable you to learn new skills, meet new people and gain valuable experience that you can take into your future career. It also gives you the opportunity to explore an area of work that is of interest to you or try something completely different!”
Doing work for others can help you cultivate a sense of purpose and become a part of a larger volunteer community, both of which are good for staying happy and healthy. Additionally, it can often seem like the issues we care about will never be adequately addressed. Dipping our toes in the work to help solve these problems can make the state of things seem less demoralizing.
The world is opening back up
Assuming that you are fully vaccinated and do not consider yourself at higher risk of complications due to COVID-19, there may be in-person events that you can help with. Even if you have a busy work-life and a slammed social calendar, many events that need volunteers might happen less frequently, without requiring an ongoing availability. For instance, many nonprofit festivals require volunteers, and these may only occur once a year – arts festivals are especially relevant in this category.
The International Storytelling Festival in Tennessee, the Contemporary Arts Festival in Finland, the Brooklyn Book Festival, the Sundance Film Festival in Utah and Edinburgh Fringe Festival all offer hands-on volunteer work and all operate just once a year.
Take a look and see which public events in your nearest city accept volunteers. Besides getting free entry to events, you can meet other people who enjoy the same kinds of art and culture that you do, and you might even meet some of the artists who are present. As these events occur sporadically, you won’t have to spend hours every week contributing your time to them. Still, you’d play a significant part in their goings-on.
Apart from major festivals and weekend-long events, other in-person opportunities have begun popping up again. For instance, museums and cultural institutions are once again welcoming visitors, which means they’re also once again welcoming volunteers. While these kinds of opportunities usually require more of a consistent availability, you can request to work only during your time off, like weekends or evenings. Working in a library or a museum can give you the opportunity to learn more about your community and its history, art and culture as well as meeting like-minded individuals.
Remote volunteer opportunities
Some of the most busybody-friendly volunteer jobs are located online. You don’t have to leave your house at all to help out in some circumstances. Remote volunteer work is just as helpful as volunteering in-person. Websites like VolunteerMatch and Points of Light can help you find virtual, remote volunteer opportunities that fit within your interests, talents and availability.
If you already have an organization in-mind that you really want to work with, check their website for virtual volunteering opportunities. It’s likely that they have some online responsibilities that you can help out with. With remote work like this, you still get to collaborate with others while undergoing training, exchanging emails, meeting for Zoom calls and using Slack to maintain volunteer communities. Even if the community of volunteering is what you really crave, this is still a great opportunity.
The pandemic’s effect on the workplace has improved virtual and skills-based volunteer opportunities as well. WarnerMedia’s Global Volunteer Day last year went completely virtual and was a great success. WarnerMedia Senior Director Sydney Langdon described the event to the “Atlanta Business Chronicle”: “They were knitting with each other on Zoom calls, they were reviewing resumes, they were talking to young people, they were building little kits – all kinds of stuff happening. That was a really nice way to pivot from our normal global volunteer day.”
Oftentimes, remote roles involve doing research, grant-writing, coordinating, email-writing and web design, translation, advocacy, working with social media and soliciting donations. There’s just as much diversity in available roles when working from home as there would be in-person.
There are even some organizations and institutions that only operate virtually – specifically hotlines, free tutoring services and various medical and cultural associations. Whatever you are passionate about, there is something out there for you. Giving any of your time away at all is generous and invaluable, and you’ll really feel like you are making a difference.
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