by Nicole Newman, Contributing Writer
Philanthropy can take on many forms. Sometimes it is putting your money where your mouth is. Other times its giving your most valued possession, your time. Kahlil Gibran says it best, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
Your time is an asset that can be critical to the success of the organization or cause you care about. Organizations often need volunteers with highly specialized skills. Specific skills are helpful to groups who may be so mission driven that they spend the majority of their time providing program management other areas get neglected. An hour of time spent helping someone balance their books can save hours of time and resources later if they have to be audited or reviewed. No skill set is unimportant. So whether you are doing data collection, writing press releases or helping to maintain their financial books, that skill is important to the organization you’re helping.
One group that I used to work with gave furniture to families who were moving out of homeless shelters. They did awesome work but were always too busy to track what they gave out on a daily basis. As condition for a grant they got they has to report that information. A volunteer came in for two hours a week to track and enter that information so that the quarterly reporting process went seamless. Without that work they would have lost funding or been out of compliance with the contractual obligations of the grant.
Everyone has something that they are particularly gifted in. Not to mention we are millennials and we often have the energy and digital advantage to take on tasks many organizations need. Maybe you are a people person who can help a non-profit maintain and build relationships with donors? Maybe you can lend technical and IT support? Or maybe you can simply manage a social media account? Everyone has the ability to lend their time in a meaningful way.
Don’t underestimate how an hour or two can be spent. How we spend our time is indicative of our priorities. If you want to help your favorite cause or organization get to the next level: give of your time. My only caution is make sure the need matches, but more on that next time.
What volunteer experience has worked best for you? Let us know!