7 Ways Busy, Young Professionals Can Volunteer!

This article couldn’t be more perfect as a follow up to Wednesday’s post! Thanks to Levo League for this one!

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Originally posted on Levo League, April 12, 2013

It’s tax season. While wealthy philanthropists may be busy itemizing their deductions, most young women don’t have the money (or the time) to make the kinds of  impact their tax returns. However, there are plenty of great, non-tax-related reasons why women should make a habit of giving back, especially when they are just starting out in their careers.

“The benefits of giving back as a young professional are pretty immense,” says Katie Tiehen, program manager at volunteer organization Seattle Works. Studies show that volunteering makes people happier and healthier, but contributing to a cause you believe in has other benefits as well, from expanding your professional network to providing leadership opportunities you might not get in the workplace for years to come.

1. Take a step back.

As young women, we are often so focused on our own careers that we forget there are other ways to meet our needs. “I’m 29, and there was a period where a lot of the jobs I was working were thankless,” says Tiehen. “You get distracted working your way up and lose that satisfaction.” Shifting the focus away from your career and toward your broader life goals is a useful exercise all on its own.

2. Find something you’re genuinely passionate about.

Online philanthropy makes it easy to explore a variety of worthy causes until you find something that speaks to you. On the micro-giving site Jolkona, for example, you can search by cause. Even small donations make a big difference: A gift of $25 can help one homeless woman in the United States receive job-search support. Through the HandsOn Network, you can search for volunteer opportunities by zip code.

3. Join a community, not just a cause.

The benefits of philanthropy are multiplied when you give as part of a group. Organizations such as Pangea, a Seattle-based international giving circle, and Social Venture Partners (SVP), a venture philanthropy network, offer members access to educational events, exposure to cutting edge ideas, and the opportunity to get to know like-minded people. Donors also get a say in where their pooled funds go. If you plan to volunteer, look for ways to become part of a team.

4. Make use of your skills.

If you are a graphic designer, design posters for a project you believe in. If you want an opportunity to work on public speaking, emcee your organization’s next fundraiser. Interior designer Claudia Larkin is a great example. She started contributing to Washington Women in Need by offering her interior design services and ended up becoming a board member. Donating in-kind services can be a great entry point to a new organization and allows you to develop your own talents.

5. Be judicious with your resources.

As a young professional, your time, money, and the number of causes you can contribute to at once are probably limited. As Tiehen points out, “You’d never just throw your money out there. You outline your goals and direct your money accordingly. I would suggest that young philanthropists do that with their time, too.”

6. Give consistently over time.

It takes a lot of resources for an organization to find donors and volunteers. If you like what a group is doing, a recurring gift is a great way to maximize its impact. If you’re a volunteer, make a commitment to regular service. That makes life easier for volunteer coordinators and helps you develop relationships with others who serve.  


7. Learn to lead.

“Volunteering is a great way to keep yourself exercising leadership skills when your job may not offer you those opportunities yet,” says Tiehen. Seattle Works offers courses in leadership and non-profit board service for volunteers, but you should consider taking the lead on smaller projects. Not only are those skills transferable, taking charge outside the office can empower you with more confidence overall.

Read the original post here.

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