I've been thinking a lot about volunteerism lately. I've been considering all it takes to really dedicate time to an organization and truly make a difference. There are so many avenues to volunteer, and they change as we get older. I started volunteering when my kids were very young and attended a Catholic school. I did weekly lunch duty - walking around the cafeteria and helping to open pudding containers and peeling oranges, wiping down tables between sessions, and so on. I was also on the yearly festival committee and helped plan the school's biggest fundraiser and solicited donations from local businesses to display at the heavily attended, much-talked-about Live Auction. From there I moved to Scouts (both Boy and Girl) and soccer boosters (I could write a book on the years I was involved in high school soccer. The. Drama.)
Eventually, I began doing volunteer activities for local and national nonprofits: Eruption Athletics, Persad Center, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Toys for Tots, Community Liver Alliance, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few one-offs. I helped to build a dog park in my community, and by far had the most fun while spending time with the crew from Cindy's Memorial Bark Park.
I bring up volunteering for a few reasons. Did you know you can (and should!) list volunteer activities on your resume and in your LinkedIn profile? Volunteerism shows leadership, dedication, and empathy. Here are some tips on adding your philanthropic endeavors to your resume. Secondly, and most importantly, nonprofits are suffering - bad. All their events have been cancelled or moved to a virtual platform. Donors are not donating. Volunteers are not volunteering. People are not interested in virtually connecting - it's getting old; it's not the same... I get it. But it doesn't change the needs of any nonprofit; it is most likely making their overall needs greater.
What do you do when you're tasked with a fundraising goal that doesn't change because of a global pandemic? How about organizations that need MORE money during the pandemic? What about those groups who are running out of resources because of COVID?
Saturday December 5 is International Volunteer Day. The United Nations designated this day back in 1985 as an international observance day to celebrate the power and potential of volunteerism.
Thinking ahead as to how you might want to be involved on IVD starts now. You can begin by contacting your borough or township and asking about a small neighborhood project. You can survey your friends and family as to what causes are important to them and create a team effort for one specific organization. You can just randomly contact a nonprofit and describe your interests and talents - I'd bet they'd find SOMETHING for you to do and a way for you to be involved!
Here's a short list of some of my favorite nonprofit organizations, in no particular order. I've shared a link direct to their contact information. I urge you to reach out and ask, "How can I help?", or make a donation... every dollar counts, especially now.
Community Liver Alliance
National Kidney Foundation
American Diabetes Association
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
Cindy's Memorial Bark Park
Toys for Tots
The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania
March of Dimes
Light Of Life Rescue Mission
The Little Fox - Toby's Foundation
South Hills Pet Rescue - My grand dog Maggie found her way from SHPR to our family!
No matter how you choose do it, just get involved. The possibilities are endless - the rewards are invaluable.
"Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless." - Sherry Anderson
Use the comment section and share your favorite nonprofit organizations - or any volunteer opportunities you need help with!
XO - Kel