Every year, millions of Americans set out to improve themselves in some way -- stop smoking, lose weight, exercise more. But, what if you turned that focus toward your community, and found a way to help a local cause that really meant something to you? We can help you get started.
Identify your own personal values.
Do you have special childhood memories or specific humanitarian beliefs? For example, you may have experienced a wonderful arts program as a kid or have a growing concern over human rights, disaster relief or orphan welfare. Figuring out a cause that really means something to you is the first step to making a difference.
Match your values with a local cause.
Once you know what cause you’d like to focus on, try looking in your community to find an outlet. For example, if art is your thing, visit your local gallery, museum, performing arts center or library to see if they need any help. You can also use websites like www.guidestar.org or www.volunteermatch.org to search for nonprofits and charities in your region based on your interests.
If you can’t find exactly what you want, start your own charity.
It may take a lot of hard work to start a charity from scratch, but in the end, the rewards are endless. Before you start out on your own, though, you may want to spend a year or two working closing with another group, to learn the ins and outs of an organization like the one you want to start. Or, you may want to create a new local chapter of an existing larger organization that may have training in place already.
Remember, money is meaningful too.
If you don’t have as much time as you’d like to dedicate to volunteering, remember that nonprofit organizations always need money too. And writing a check is no less meaningful or impactful. In fact, sometimes, that’s the only way you can participate and help a specific charity.