It’s no surprise that many people have more free time this summer, but fewer social activities to attend. Social distancing measures, coupled with a global feeling of unrest, may leave people looking for ways to connect and contribute to the world around them. This article focuses on the benefits of giving back to your community this summer, and ways to do it. Giving back to the community can give you a sense of purpose and positivity. It can also help you connect with others and even grow your skills or learn new ones.
If you are looking for ways to boost your mood, use extra free time productively, and set positive examples for friends, family, and children in your life, we have a few ideas to get you going. Below are our top picks for giving back this summer.
Find A Cause To Support
You may already have a certain cause, organization, or charity that you feel passionately about, but aren’t sure how to contribute, or you may have a variety of interests and don’t know which to pick. In either case, if you are looking for a specific cause to volunteer or become involved with, there are many ways to get connected.
If you already know what cause you want to support, ask around to your friends and families if they know of any organizations that work specifically on that cause. You can also do a quick google search for organizations near to you or on a national scale. Pick an organization that aligns with your values, interests, and charitable goals and reach out. Don’t be afraid to do a little research or ask questions to make sure you find the ideal cause for you. Once you find an organization that suits you, contact them to find out where they need help and how you can contribute.
If you aren’t sure where to start at all, there are several non-profit listing sites, such as VolunteerMatch.org that can help you narrow down your interests and skills, and then connect you with relevant organizations. You can also check-in with your employer. Many companies have non-profit organizations they partner with already. This is an easy way to get your foot in the door.
Donate Your Time Or Skills
You may also have a particular skill or trade that can serve your community or those around you, without committing to full volunteer status with an organization. If you are looking for ways to contribute, but want to do so on your own time, below are a few ideas to get you started:
- If you are a sewer, knitter, or crocheter, you can use your skills to create needed items for local hospitals, hospices, nursing, or foster homes. Or, if you are handy, you may be able to offer to make needed repairs for an organization. Figure out what you skill or craft you would like to contribute, and there will be a cause out there that needs it. Check with the organization you want to take your items to for any special requirements or needs.
- Find virtual ways to donate your time by asking if there are organizations that need people to connect with others for social and emotional support. This can mean spending time with the elderly or at-risk kids on the phone or through video chat. Using your time to spend with someone else will help both of you by providing connection and positivity.
- You can also find ways to use your own network or networking skills to help fundraise or raise awareness about any given cause. If you are especially good with social media, you may be able to help spread the word for need for monetary or other donations, or simply get the word out about your chosen organization. Most of this work can be done without leaving your home.
- Many food banks and churches are always looking for volunteers to help pick up, organize, and distribute food items. Check with organizations close to you to see what their needs may be to help serve hungry families. You may choose to volunteer once, or regularly, but whatever your commitment, your time will be appreciated.
Donate Your Items Or Food
Another great way to contribute while cleaning out your clutter is to donate items or food. Go through your closet, pantry, and garage for clothing, items, or non-perishable food items in the good condition that you no longer need or want. Decluttering will help your own space feel better, and your items will go to those who need them most. Make sure to check for drop-off and sanitization requirements before taking any items to your organization of choice.
If you are able, financial giving is another important way get involved. The money will always be helpful to charitable organizations, however, be sure any donations go towards the cause, and not just back to the organization. Once you have selected an organization that fits your interests, you can do some research to understand how any monetary donations are used to make sure your money goes where you want it to go. Your contributions can be regular or a one-time donation. In either case, the monetary donation will be appreciated.
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of social involvement. This means actively (and visibly) supporting causes that are important to you. This may be in the form of social media posts, guest articles, or helping a call center. It may also mean participating in peaceful protests or rallies. Most importantly, it means researching political candidates or measures that will be on upcoming ballots and then voting. The best way to use your voice is at the polls. You can also help encourage others to become socially involved by helping them register to vote and go to the polls themselves.
This article was developed in partnership with Balance Pro.