Volunteering your time is an exceptionally fun and rewarding way to give back. So often, people think giving money is the only way to help an organization. They think of volunteering as a big time commitment, and often it’s something they think only “other inspirational people” do.
Guess what. You are just as inspirational and just as capable of making a real difference. Your talents can be put to use to affect the topics that truly matter to you. While you are giving back, you will find that putting your heart and talents to use is as good for you as it is for the organizations you help.
The time put into volunteering can be as little as a one-time project, a once-a-month activity, a few-times-a-week job or even something you do every day! Because this is the Green Lifestyles Network, we are going to focus on eco-friendly volunteer opportunities and help you find the right opportunity for you.
Volunteermatch.org is one of the best places to find almost every kind of volunteering position. There’s working with animals, helping kids and even “virtual volunteering.” Virtual volunteering is the ability to volunteer from the comfort of your home. It’s a great opportunity and may work best with the type of work you can do. But there are many benefits to volunteering in-person. You can network, learn a skill from experienced volunteers, form new friendships and, depending on your activity…have a great workout!
Not every volunteer opportunity requires physical activity, but working with a conservation club certainly would. Conservation clubs are a great way to keep forests free of invasive species. By cleaning the environment, you help keep the world beautiful and safe for wildlife. The Nature Conservancy is a nonprofit organization that works to keep our land and water clean and beautiful. If you go to http://www.nature.org/about-us/volunteer/index.htm, you can find volunteer opportunities near you. They also list ways you can help the environment at http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/service.xml.
If something less physical is more your style, event planning might be your thing. Do you love to write? Writing can be a great way to help organizations with their newsletters, website content, and marketing. Teaching an organization to market via the internet is a way to help them “go green” and reach more people. There are benefits for you, too. Let’s say you’re a new web designer. You can gain experience while helping others by sprucing up an old website for a nonprofit organization. Just about any of your talents can be used to give back to your community.
Another way to meet “green” professionals in your community is by searching Greendrinks.org. You might learn that the people around you care more than you think they do. Do you see a need for change that you feel is not being met? Idealist.org is creating a network so we can voice our opinions on how we can make the world better.
Love gardening? You can garden as a volunteer just about anywhere you like. You can also use your gardening skills to feed people. Perhaps you know of a school, church or other place with grass just waiting to become a beautiful garden. You can form a garden club to create garden spaces and provide food for local food pantries. Imagine using the fun of gardening to provide fresh food to people who cannot afford to buy any. Not to mention, gardens attract bees, butterflies, and create beautiful scenery. You can even save your seeds to give to others so they can start their own gardens. Everyone, no matter what age, can help!
Another interesting volunteer start-up is Bead for Life. With the help of volunteers, Bead for Life has created an educational program to teach women in other countries how to start a business. What’s even better is they have incorporated ethical fashion by making the beads out of recycled paper.
From business knowledge to resume editing, your wisdom can (and is meant to) be shared with others!
If you decide to volunteer with an established organization, please do research to ensure it truly contributes to the cause in a reliable way and that you have the same goals. When you volunteer your time doing something you love, it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like fun. Your talents are a fruit just waiting to be harvested by the right opportunity.