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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Got Skills? Here’s How to Use Them for Good

I don’t know about you, but there are times I question whether or not my donations really make a difference. I’m not in a place to afford substantial gifts to my favorite organizations, but I want to give something. That’s why I wrote a piece about giving on a budget. It’s also why I’ve talking about ways and places to volunteer, as well as sharing creative ways to support the charities in your local community, like the food bank and homeless shelter.

Today I’m sharing another way you can make a big for a local organization. Keep reading to learn how you can take those skills from the lower half of your resume and use them for good.

After college, I completed a term of service with AmeriCorps at a small community organization that provided housing assistance to low-income individuals and families. The small group of dedicated staff was lean and mean. They stretched every ounce of their budget and time to serve as many people as possible to fight poverty and homelessness in the community. There was no challenge they wouldn’t accept, even if they weren’t quite equipped to handle it. They would piece together their ideas and skills to find a workable solution to most problems so they could move on to the next thing. While their can-do spirits were inspiring, I was struck by how many gaps they were trying to fill on their own. 

For instance, the team knew they could reach and communicate with more people in the community by creating a Facebook profile to share updates and information. Someone set up the profile, agreed to manage it, and began posting. But the posts didn’t reach the people they were intended to, engagement was low, and the profile quickly became a burden. 

In retrospect, that could’ve been a great volunteer opportunity for a young digital native in the community. Someone who understood the platform and wanted to use their know-how to give back where it was needed most. But who had time to find that person or get them excited about the project?

Anyway, here’s the reason for that story. It’s a challenge. Are you ready?

If you, like me, are in a season where you feel like you could do more in your community by donating time than donating dollars, take a few minutes to create a list of your skills. What do you enjoy doing? What are you good at? What could you use to fill a gap?

Having trouble getting started? Here are a few ideas:

  • Writing: A good writer will never be turned away! There are always grant applications to submit :)
  • Digital Design: Because who has time to design the posters for the annual fundraising dinner? Or update the annual report template that’s been used for the last 7 years?
  • Web Design: Help take that clunky old website from 1998 to 2018!
  • Social Media: Facebook and Twitter are great… when they’re being updated and monitored.
  • Bookkeeping: Budgets are less fun to play with for the finance person who’s also the receptionist, the office party planner, and the executive assistant
  • Event planning: Yes, it would be good to engage the community, but how do you plan a party people actually want to pay to attend?

These are just a few ideas and this list is far from exhaustive. 

Now, back to my story. Those challenges were not unique to that organization. Many small, local groups face an overwhelming need with limited resources. Using even a portion of those resources to find and cultivate talented volunteers can feel like a monumental task.

If you want to do good in your community, take that burden off the organizations. Do your homework. Consider it part of your time to give back. Find out which organizations are working in your city and reach out to them. Tell them a little about yourself and your skills. Start the conversation. 

Plus, using your skills and talents to give back feels great! It’s a great way to flex that expertise while filling a gap for an organization doing important work.

I want to hear from you! 
Have you used a skill or talent to support a local organization? If so, what was the experience like, and would you do it again?

More reads:

Written by Ashley Post, Communications Manager at Charity Navigator.

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