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volunteer in your communities

Help local community service organizations, or form your own. Help your community in new ways that maybe people aren't dealing with. Get political. Find an organization doing an important job for your local community (or your state, or your country) and volunteer time regularly for them. The world ain't just about money...what can you offer your community?

  • Your time
  • Your skills
  • Your compassion
  • Your life experience
  • Your special talents

If you can freely offer these things for the common good, what a wonderful way to participate in your community! And many people find it personally satisfying to spend time each month helping a worthwhile organization that supports the common good as you see it.

Finding Good Organizations

How do you find organizations for whom you'll want to volunteer your time?

Brainstorm issues that you care about. Try sitting down for a few minutes with a pen and some paper and write down a few things that are really important to you that relate to the common good.

Search the Web for what interests you. Do a Google search for organizations and issues that you care about. If you get too many hits, add "+volunteer" or "+political" to your query to limit the results. Visit their Web sites and call them on the phone and ask how you can help them.

Use the free VolunteerMatch service. VolunteerMatch is an excellent free service that can help you find volunteer opportunities nearby to your home that you might be interested in. Search for volunteering that is related to health issues, women's issues, children's issues, the environment, and many more categories! Also, you can read their frequently asked questions.

Use other online tools such as Craigslist. These organizations help match individuals with non-profit organizations. For the San Francisco Bay Area, you can use this link, or for other metropolitan areas in the U.S., click here, and then click on your city name, and click the text "volunteer" to see volunteer opportunities in your area.

Be bold enough to get political. Promote your values and priorities by volunteering.

And if you can't find an organization doing what you want, start your own!

Tips for Volunteering

There were adapted from Network For Good's "10 Tips for Wise Volunteering" page.

  1. Research the causes or issues important to you.
  2. Consider the skills that you have to offer.
  3. Decide whether you would you like to learn something new.
  4. Combine your goals — for instance, working with kids & improving education.
  5. Don't over-commit your schedule.
  6. Be patient with non-profits — they may have questions or concerns too.
  7. Consider volunteering as a family.
  8. Consider virtual volunteering — volunteer by phone, computer, etc.
  9. Be creative! Brainstorm organizations to offer your time or other support.
  10. Give your heart a voice through giving and volunteering!

Read more detailed tips for volunteering on the Network For Good site.

Donating Money

OK, so donating money is not the same as volunteering. But they are similar in that you are giving something freely for the common good.

Many non-profits are really short on funds and even small donations are appreciated. If you have more resources, great, they're happy to have larger contributions. You can deduct donations to many non-profits from your taxes, so it will cost you less to donate than it may seem at first glance.

Many worthy causes are not tax-deductable but they still need your help! For example, groups trying to affect public policy may be politically active in ways that you and I can't easily do on our own. These organizations may actively meet with senators, political parties, promote legislation or candidates, or coordinate large-scale public relations efforts. If they promote issues and policies that you care about, donating money may be a good way to help them.

In some cases, you may not have the skills that an organization needs most, such as legal assistance or another specialty skill, but you can donate money to support their expenses.

In all cases, ask organizations how you can volunteer time or skills and you may be surprised to find that they need something you can help with.