You may have thought to yourself that you have always wanted to get involved in some volunteer opportunities, but you don’t want to make a big commitment to an organization. Maybe you don’t have a lot of time or you have a hectic schedule with school, building a career, or caring for children. Yet, you have a strong urge to give back and make your local community and this world a better place. There are many opportunities for people just like you!
If you have a computer and a desire to help others, on-line mentoring may be a great volunteer opportunity for you! Many colleges and universities, and even high schools, look to graduates and connect them with current students who have an interest in the field you are working in. Sometimes mentoring can involve talking to students about time-management, exams, and navigating the school, especially for new students. However, other mentoring programs are geared more toward pairing up students with mentors who work in a field of the student’s choice. Contact the school you attended for more information about what programs are available.
Another way to help out using your computer is through social media. Are you always on Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook? Offer to maintain these accounts for a local charity! Animal shelters, soup kitchens, schools, and many other low-budget organizations are always in need of help in these areas. Updating pages with current pictures, donation needs, and current events is a great communication tool, and you can be critical in assisting them – all on your own time!
Thinking more globally? Consider Infinite Family, a non-profit organization that connects mentors with teens in South Africa who are dealing with poverty, the AIDS crisis, and getting an education to rise above these challenges. There is training involved (about five hours), and then you and your mentee pick a regular time to chat online, but you both can also be flexible depending on what is going on in both of your lives.
Are you a busy person, but you want to volunteer by getting out in the world and connecting with others? Maybe your job involves sitting at a desk all day, so a volunteer opportunity would be more appealing if it gets you moving, meeting others, and you could sign up last minute? Well, many organizations are looking for people just like you! AARP looks for volunteers who have just a few hours or a few days to help out in a variety of capacities. For example, you can help deliver or serve meals to the hungry, help out at a local animal shelter, and there are other opportunities that may match any skills you already have. You just fill out their simple form online and they will match you up with an organization that meets their needs!
Do you live in or near a major city? Many larger cities offer last minute opportunities for volunteers. For example, New York Cares gives volunteers the opportunity to search for “projects” online that they can sign up for. There’s something for everyone to do, from sorting donated clothing, reading to children, practicing English with non-native speakers, helping out with mock interviews with job seekers, painting nails of senior citizens, and so much more!
One of the best ways to start a volunteer venture is to consider where your strengths already are. For example, if you enjoy baking, low-income families could benefit from your sweet treats and cakes! Check out BirthdayCakes4Free to sign up to offer your services to help families in need. You can put your skills to good use and brighten a child’s day!
Are you great with numbers? Is your checkbook always balanced? Help out the United Way by offering budget counseling services to families. Teach them how to pay off credit cards, make and maintain a budget, and effectively manage finances.
Looking to travel and volunteer? Combining the two in a great way to give back, mingle with locals, and you can truly get a sense of the country’s culture. The Sierra Club offers volunteer opportunities for those who love nature and want to preserve it. Habitat for Humanity is a great organization if you want to get to know locals and help them build homes. Earthwatch gives volunteers the opportunity to “work with scientists to solve environmental problems.” There are volunteer locations all over the world, depending on your interests. Another great organization that can connect you with international opportunities is Globe Aware. Their website is easy to navigate, and you can find the right fit for you. If you love to garden or believe wholeheartedly in a pesticide-free lifestyle, check out World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WWOOF. They “link volunteers with organic farmers, and help people share more sustainable ways of living. In return for volunteering, you get free food, accommodations, and you learn more about the organic lifestyle.
If you are feeling funny about volunteering as a single person, know that these organizations are very grateful for each and every volunteer. However, if you want to specifically sign up with an organization that caters to singles, check out SingleVolunteers. They have chapters nationally and internationally.
As you can see, there are many, many ways you can volunteer your time. You can do it from the comfort of your home, via your computer, or you can sign up last minute to help out an organization in need! Even combining your vacation plans with a volunteer opportunity is a great way to give back! There are so many people and groups in need, and your little bit of help can make a big difference in the lives of others.