What comes to mind when you think volunteering? Is it the altruism of those who decide to forfeit their time, energy, and talents to people they may or may not know? Is it an immediate, gut reaction–“I don’t know, not for me”? Or maybe, “I would, but I don’t know where to start.”
We’re here to tell you that volunteering is for more than just those saints among us. People volunteer for many different reasons. Here are 5 reasons to volunteer that may just start your career as a volunteer:
You have extra time on your hands: We all live busy lives. It seems everyone has a million things to do, but sometimes you hit a lull–you’re between jobs, or just graduated from college, or recently retired. Whatever life circumstances graced you with a few extra hours in your week, you decide that Netflix can wait and turn your energy into something both fulfilling and productive–volunteering.
You want to make friends: You moved to a new city, or your closest friends moved away, and your network or support system is looking a little thin. While your co-workers are a great option, you see them everyday. Open up your circle, meet people you wouldn’t normally meet, and connect over an issue that touches on your core values through volunteering!
You want to support an organization or cause you care about, but are short on cash: While donations are a great way to support nonprofits and causes you care about, giving your time and energy can be just as useful. Do you have a special skillset like web design, finance, marketing, training or education? Donate your time and skills to help build up a social media presence for your favorite local nonprofit or offer pro-bono professional development for their staff or constituents–all these things cost money that they can spend elsewhere if you step in as a volunteer.
You’d like to donate to an organization or cause, but want to get to know it better before you do: Want to make sure your money is going where you want it to? Or confirm that the cause you’d like to support is really the one? Chip in at a local event or offer your services to their staff. You’ll get to meet people on the inside, have a real taste of what the work is like, and feel more connected to your donation in the end!
You want to better understand the community you live in: In just a 10 mile radius, there are so many amazing people, places, and projects going on. If you want to feel closer to your community, get connected with a local nonprofit. Often nonprofits are part of a larger network of related services and resources for the community. Getting involved as a volunteer gives you an opportunity to learn more about the needs, dreams, and amazing work of your fellow community members, and helps you understand the fabric of your community in new ways.
Volunteering doesn’t have to take up loads of your mental, emotional, and physical energy. Pitch in a few hours for yearly or monthly events, or offer to take part in a project that only requires a few remote hours of work. There’s so many wonderful organizations that–especially now–can use a hand making phone calls, writing emails, or advocating for their work that only takes access to Wifi and the interest to get involved. If Reality Changers isn’t the organization for you, start today with some of these organizations local to San Diego:
- DETOUR Empowers: DETOUR is a mentoring program for girls of color. Their vision is to see equity and inclusion for teen girls of color in higher education and priority sector employment.
- MANA de San Diego: Empowering Latinas through education, leadership development, community service, and advocacy.
- Bikes del Pueblo: Educational bike collective that provides tools and knowledge for basic bike repairs and maintenance.
- More Than Apples: Serves to reduce hunger/food insecurity and waste by redistributing consumable goods, providing education aimed at reduction of waste and creating a community in which consciousness, courtesy, and communal good are the core tenets.