Appeals to text a keyword and donate money to worthy causes have become as much of a part of the fabric of our existence as promotions for the latest TV show or movie. While donating money is amazing, donating time can be just as beneficial.
According to the Blackbaud Institute, in 2019, 26% of online donations were made using mobile devices compared to 2014 when just 9% were. Texting to give is a quick, easy, and impulse-friendly way to support causes you care about. However, getting involved in other ways can ultimately bring lasting benefit to both a charitable organization and you, personally.
The Benefit of Your Experience
Your life experiences and the skills you have learned are unique and valuable. As C-suite Jozef Opdeweegh points out in this press release, “Lasting social solutions are seldom designed from above, rather they evolve through an iterative process of progress and refinement, underpinned by care for the outcome.” Texting some money may help move that process along in an abstract way, but, ultimately, it is the skills and perspectives of people on the ground that drives this evolution.
This is a complicated way of saying that you have a lot to give with your unique life experiences. That can mean using your skills to cook for a soup kitchen or your empathy to chat with clients as you serve them. It can mean lending your entrepreneurial skills to the board of an organization. It can mean coaching little league or designing spreadsheets for your local domestic violence shelter. There are all kinds of ways to put your particular skill set to use.
When you lend your expertise, you are saving a charitable organization the money it would take to hire someone to do the same work. But you are also providing a vital diversity of perspectives that can help that organization work more effectively. And maybe your ideas can even go into public policy in the future.
The Experience of Your Benefit
In addition to using your unique skills, experiences, and perspectives to help organizations provide services, you get to add to those skills, experiences, and perspectives. Volunteering your time and expertise can improve your mental health, connect you to your community, expand your social circle, increase your self-confidence, advance your career, and even boost happiness.
The advent of the internet, social media, and smartphones have made us all more connected. Yet we somehow feel more isolated than ever before, so much so that that the UK recently appointed a Minister of Loneliness. This feeling of detachment has real consequences for our mental and physical health. Volunteering can connect us with others and bring community back into our lives, with all the knock-on benefits it brings.
How To Get Started
The first and possibly most challenging step is to figure out what causes you care most about. You only have so much time, and it can be tough to decide where to focus your energy. Once you know what kind of volunteer opportunities you are interested in, a quick google search on finding volunteer opportunities will give you several websites that can help match you to open positions near you.