Thanks to the rise of corporate social responsibility and big name celebrities lending their money and time to charity, the importance of helping the less fortunate has been getting a big boost in the public awareness. However, you don’t have to be ridiculously rich, or fabulously famous to make a difference.
You’re aware that there’s a difference between the short term efforts you put in, like visiting the children’s home and spending a couple of afternoons there, to being fully committed to volunteer work. The first type is really appreciated, and you can do in your holidays or when you get the time. The bigger investment can often become a full-time job, and many organizations are open to the idea of hiring full-time workers to lend a hand in their charity efforts.
For our purposes, we will stick to the first kind of charity, which is the perfect place to figure out how to get involved with charity work if you’ve never done it before. If you start helping out small and get hooked, you can always invest more time and energy further down the line.
Volunteer your skills
Volunteering is about giving something to others that they may not have. This isn’t just about money; it can also be giving your natural gifts and talents. If you are a gifted athlete, why not volunteer to teach the little kids with the advice and knowledge you have gathered? For those that can teach, there’s nothing more rewarding than dedicating the time to teach others how to read and write. You can also train others on your specific skills; for example, a nurse could volunteer to teach first aid or work in a hospice or a home for the elderly. There is no limit to what you can volunteer. Even by just visiting the sick and needy, you are making a difference in their lives.
This is the aspect of charity work that a lot of people are familiar with, and for good reason. It takes monetary resources to run a children’s home, hospice, or community clinic. Many times, these places don’t have the means to raise money by themselves, which is why they need those of us who have enough to support them. And don’t just cut a check in order to get the publicity that sometimes comes with such gestures. Instead, do it because you truly care for the wellbeing of the less fortunate, and want to help in the way you can. A lot of charitable organizations and homes for the needy are always open to donations, regardless of amount. No matter how much you have, be willing to give away some of it to those in need.
Many charitable organizations depend on the publicity in order to draw in volunteers and donations. This is why charitable organizations are always on the lookout for marketing staff that can help build their image. Public relations is as important to a charity as much as it is to a for-profit company and putting the word out can cost you as little time an energy as posting a Facebook status or be as involved as handing out fliers or walking door-to-door.
Behind the public relations staff is a group of people who work tirelessly to ensure the charitable organization stays afloat. Many such organizations will have roles for both part-timers and those who want to fully commit to the endeavor. Of course, choosing to go into full-time fundraising means that you are expected to be a great communicator and negotiator. Also, expect a certain amount of rejection, as a lot of people will probably turn you down during the process and the fact that your target fundraising goals will always keep rising.
Being a mentor
This is the deep end of the pool, for seriously invested volunteers only. To be a mentor means to be a caregiver, and will require more face time with individuals than any other volunteer work we’ve mentioned so far. This work may require some training, but this is often quick and easy, regardless of whether you are part- or full- time. Once you have locked down a role as a mentor, it is up to you to make a difference in people’s lives. No special skills are required; all that’s needed is your commitment and effort. From this launch point, a lot of people have gone on to forge careers in child/human development, and social work. It may not be lucrative, but is one of the most fulfilling jobs in the world if you like being around people.
In the end, any effort you make towards helping other people is a great experience and worthy investment. You don’t need to have millions in the bank, or dedicate an entire lifetime to make a difference. It is often the little things in life that make a difference, and none more valuable than putting a smile on a needy person’s face. So make time for volunteer work in your busy schedule, and reap the rewards of good karma and a happier world along the way.