Volunteering

How to give back even when time isn't on your side


Mentoring young people is one way that busy men and women can give back to their communities without sacrificing much of their time.

Men and women want to give back to their communities, but too often find themselves strapped for time. Commitments to work and family can make it hard to find time to volunteer.

But hectic schedules do not have to prevent people from doing good in their communities and beyond. The following are a few simple ways time-strapped men and women can give back to their communities.

* Promote a good cause. Shedding light on a good cause can help the less fortunate. When a local nonprofit organization is having a fundraiser or an event to raise awareness, men and women who won't be able to participate can still chip in by promoting such events via social media or by encouraging friends and family members to go in their stead. It won't take long to post a link to a favorite charity's Web site on your social media profile, and doing so can raise awareness of that charity among family and friends.

* Make a donation. While making a donation may not seem like the most creative way to give back, men and women who are short on time should not downplay the significance of such donations. Writing a check to a favorite charity may be a less than satisfying way to support a good cause, but nonprofit organizations cannot succeed and continue their missions without donations. So while a financial donation might not seem like an active way to give back, that does not mean such donations are not as appreciated as volunteering time.

* Work with organizations that host short-term projects. Volunteering is often a significant commitment, as many organizations prefer volunteers to promise a certain number of hours per week or per month. But many other organizations host short-term projects that may last only a day. Habitat for Humanity, for example, often allows volunteers to sign up for one-day projects that are ideal for those who want to give back but don't have the time to make long-term commitments. Signing up for such projects well in advance allows time-strapped individuals to clear their schedules in advance without having to rearrange their daily lives.

* Become a mentor. Mentoring is a great way to give back without making a significant time commitment. Mentors can take young persons under their wings and offer advice on careers, education and many other areas where they might ask for some guidance. Such advice can be offered over a weekly lunch, through email or weekly phone calls, none of which will eat up too much time. Mentoring is a significant responsibility and one that provides an invaluable service, and it's a great way for busy professionals to give back to their communities.

* Make it a family affair. Parents who find it difficult to volunteer because it takes away from time they can spend with their families can combine the two activities and volunteer as a family. Bring your children along when volunteering at the local park, beach or soup kitchen. You will still get quality time with your kids, and you will be instilling a sense of social responsibility in your children.

Finding time to volunteer can be difficult. But even the busiest men and women can still give back to their communities in a variety of ways.