By Jackie Scott
It has officially arrived, flu and volunteer season! Typically whenever we see the signs posted for flu vaccinations, we also see opportunities announced for upcoming volunteer opportunities at our local churches, schools and non-profit organizations. The generous spirit of the holiday season combined with the colder weather warms our hearts and inspires us to spend more time serving the community. Whether you decide to donate a few hours at your local food bank or spend a few days at a homeless shelter this year, here are a few tips to incorporate into your holiday volunteer experience;
- Non profits organizations rarely take a holiday. The flood of volunteers are warmly welcomed during the holiday season, however the need for volunteers requires a year round recruitment strategy for non-profit organizations. If you can commit to donating a few hours per week or per month next year, please consider making a volunteer commitment as part of your 2011 New Year’s resolution. Skill based volunteering such as financial expertise, legal, IT, website development, event management, resource development, marketing skills, etc are always in demand year round.
- If you don’t have the time to give, give a donation. Now more than ever, monetary donations are greatly appreciated. Research national charities using an online site such as www.charitynavigator.org. – the online tool/charity evaluator, works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of over 5,500 of America’s largest charities. Most local non-profits will post their financial statements and annual reports directly on their websites for your consideration.
- Volunteering can be addictive and contagious. People volunteer for many different reasons and to support many different caucuses, however most volunteers share the common experience that helping others “feels good”. The more you do, the more you want to do and the more people you can invite to share your joy the better it feels! Help spread the volunteer bug this year! Your circle of influence is bigger than you realize; Invite your family, friends, neighbors, business associates and coworkers to join you in your volunteer efforts.
- Seek out creative ways to make a difference. We are all familiar with Clint Eastwood’s epic quote from Magnum Force “ A man’s got to know his limitations” and we need to set realistic expectations of ourselves especially during the hustle & bustle of the holiday season. If you are strapped for time, look for creative ways to multitask and make a difference in your local community. For example, my local gym is hosting a “Ride for Food” spinning class next weekend to benefit the local food bank. The cost of the spinning class is simply a monetary donation to the food bank or a non-perishable food item. I can burn off those extra holiday calories, build muscle and support my local food bank! It’s a win, win, win!!!
- Create a Kodak moment. Once you’ve gathered your friends, family and social circle for volunteer participation – take a few photos of your volunteer team to document and share the experience with others. Remember to thank your peeps with a post event photo or some homemade treats to enjoy.
I will not roll up my sleeve for the flu shot this year, however I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and volunteering this holiday season!
I hope you will incorporate a few of the suggestions above into your holiday volunteer efforts. Please feel free to add or suggest new ideas to add to this list.
How will you make the most out of your holiday volunteer experiences this year?