Volunteering doesn’t have to be a second job

Volunteering doesn't have to take up all of your time

Many volunteer positions require a weekly commitment, maybe a few hours on a Tuesday night or half of your Saturday every week. While carving this time out of your schedule is a noble thing to do, it might not necessarily be a realistic goal for every week. What happens when work picks up and you need to stay late or wedding season rolls around and you’re flying all over the country every other weekend? If you’re interested in volunteering, but don’t have the time for a second job, consider pursuing some of these low-key philanthropic endeavors:

  • Become a seasonal volunteer. Nonprofits and charity organizations are always looking for more volunteers around the holiday season. From running a holiday toy store for parents in need to helping out at the soup kitchen in preparation for Thanksgiving, the one-time volunteer opportunities abound. Refer to local nonprofits; websites to see what’s going on in November and December and find out how you can lend a hand for a single day or night.
  • Check out your local food pantry. Almost every town and city has a food pantry, and they’re usually in need of an extra set of hands. Since you;re offering your time for free, they’ll often be willing to work with you when it comes to a schedule—even if that means you can only stop by once per month. That could still help the staff make a dent in organizing or taking inventory.
  • Act as a cat cuddler. Animal shelters typically have a slew of volunteer opportunities, but there’s probably none quite as laid back as being a cat (or dog) cuddler. Quite simply, these volunteers give the animals some much-needed TLC until they get taken to their forever homes. This is also a great way to get your puppy or kitten fix when you don’t have time to actually adopt one yourself.
  • Use your skills to help a nonprofit. Are you a professional graphic designer? Do you have a knack for spreadsheets and numbers? Have you always been a gifted chef? These are all skills that could come in handy when a local charity is designing their website, figuring out their annual budget, or hosting a fundraising event. Consider your gifts and then find a nonprofit that could use them, but only on an as-needed basis.
  • Join a fundraising team. Fundraisers are a big source of income for most nonprofit organizations. Although they take a lot of planning, the events themselves usually only last for a couple of hours. So consider teaming up with a local nonprofit to volunteer at their next big fundraising event.
  • Bake for a cause. You might be surprised how much a batch of homemade cookies and a smile can mean to veterans at your nearby VFW or senior citizens living at a local assisted living community. The next time you’re baking dessert anyway, just double the batch and gift it to some deserving members of your community. You probably want to call ahead to see what your chosen organization’s policy is on such gifts, though, so that your treats don’t go to waste.