Volunteering: Like it, love it, do more of it?

Volunteering is a hands-on contribution of your time to a nonprofit organization. Volunteer activities can include just about anything that takes the load off of the staff members at your favorite charity, whether that’s serving meals, packing backpacks, or picking up trash on the side of the road. More than 25% of adults volunteer each year for a nonprofit organization.

But what if you are in the majority? What if you are among the 75% of people who do not regularly volunteer? Here are three tips to make you feel good, whether you choose volunteering as a way to do good, or something else.

First, remember that volunteering, even though it’s all the buzz, isn’t the only way to do good. Giving to charity, recycling, donating canned goods, purchasing products that support a cause, attending community events, and sharing with colleagues are just a few of the other ways you can give back to the community and celebrate the causes you love the most.

Second, if you’d love to be in that 25% of Americans who volunteer but you don’t quite know how to get started, social media can come in very handy. Let your friends know that you’re up for a day of volunteering, and see what you get back. You’re likely to get a handful of good suggestions from experienced volunteers about local organizations. And, chances are good those suggestions will come with friends who want to join you.  

Third, no matter what, make sure you love what you are doing. Yes, you are making a difference in the lives of others when you get engaged in the community, but you’re also making a difference in your own life. And that matters! If you don’t like dogs and cats, by all means don’t volunteer at an animal shelter. On the other hand, if you really enjoy the satisfaction of stuffing hundreds of envelopes or sorting canned goods, pick that!

It’s a simple concept: Do what you love. It's surprisingly simple to forget that doing what you love applies to the ways you do good, too.