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Volunteer Your Brains Instead of Brawn

Volunteering is usually something we all want to do, but don’t.

Between a busy work schedule, exercising and maintaining a social life, it can be hard to set aside a few hours to make a difference.

I admittedly only volunteer a few times a year, but every time I complete a shift, it makes me feel the same way I do after a long run; energized and wondering why I don’t do it more often.

But the reality is giving up your Saturday morning after a long week to clean up a beach doesn’t sound as good as brunch with your friends.

But helping others doesn’t always have to mean giving up part of your weekend and manual labor.

Nonprofits also need your business skills during the work week.

This could be guidance and help with planning events, social media strategy, writing, administration, marketing/PR, finance, HR and so many other areas.

Some nonprofits also like to bring in speakers to present to the people they serve. Recently, I was invited by Dress for Success San Francisco to speak to its Professional Women’s Group on the topic of career advancement. I love this because I can give back by building a presentation instead of a house.

I also did skills-based volunteer work a few years ago when I sat on a marketing committee for the Boys & Girls Clubs. I gave up just one hour a month during lunch to discuss how we could better promote BGC to increase donations.

That doesn’t sound so bad does it?

Once you start looking, you’ll find there are a lot of organizations in need of many skills. And you’re not only helping them, you’re also helping yourself. Skills-based volunteer work is a great way to continually build your skill set and challenge yourself in new ways outside of work.

If you’re concerned with taking an hour or two every month to volunteer during the work day, talk to HR or your manager to see if there are any employee volunteer programs or philanthropy initiatives like Salesforce’s 1:1:1 model. If there aren’t any, you can still do skills-based volunteer work before or after work, and on the weekends.

It’s easy to think of volunteering as building, cleaning and planting, but it can be so much more.

Give back with the gift of knowledge.

Have you ever done skills-based volunteer work?

One thought to “Volunteer Your Brains Instead of Brawn”

  1. Love your advice and hope your readers take you up on it. I have been a huge fan of volunteering my entire life and can only see the benefits. You are so right. If you are a business owner or in any kind of a position where you can offer a volunteer opportunity then I say, go for it. You won’t be disappointed as long as you have something worthwhile for a volunteer looking for experience or a way to give back can do.

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