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Monday, May 17, 2021

Donating your Time, Talent, and Treasure to Charities You Love

As someone who believes in giving back to my community, I’ve spent many years building meaningful connections with the nonprofits working in the causes I care deeply about. Through this effort, my wife and I have focused on supporting charities through three key areas, commonly known as time, talent, and treasure. As I shared before in my previous Charity Navigator blog, I prefer to invest deeply in organizations to compound my impact. Below, you’ll find some of the reasons I choose to invest my time and talent in addition to my treasure, and why you should consider this as well.


30% of Americans volunteer. 77 million individuals, 16 or older, volunteered in 2016 according to an AmeriCorps Report from 2017. 36% of those born between 1965 and 1980 volunteered in 2016, and volunteers 65 and older volunteered the most hours.

Volunteers donate to charity at twice the rate of non-volunteers and make a difference in their communities at three times the rate. The AmeriCorps assessment estimated that volunteers have a 27% higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers do.

What motivates you to volunteer may change over time. The most important thing is to reflect on what drives you to volunteer - your passion. Then, you can find the right fit for what you have to offer and your life experiences.

The town where my wife and I live has a number of events with 100-300 volunteers. These range from bagging sweet potatoes to a fundraising walk. Our goal is to have at least half of the volunteers be under age of 18 to provide encouragement to parents teaching their kids the value of service and the broad range of volunteering opportunities available in our community.

More than 90% of graduates from my alma mater perform service projects. About 5% of the students are in the Bonner Scholars program, which is offered by many schools. This four-year program focuses on service and typically requires 280+ volunteer hours per school year, a summer internship, and culminates in a capstone community engagement project.

Many companies have days or even months of service. For example, Raytheon Technologies recently announced that April 2021 would be their first Global Day of Service. The goal is to have their 180,000 employees participate in 1 million service events in 2021. And retirees often have a passion to create a legacy for themselves. 


There are many articles on donating money or volunteering, but I have found few on donating talent, that is, your skills. Nonprofits are constrained in terms of the staff they can afford. Giving talent leverages specific skill sets that volunteers have in the management, planning, and execution of their mission. 
So, how do you best offer your talents? The first step is to reflect on what skill sets and experiences you have as well as why a nonprofit would benefit. The second step is to figure out what you are passionate about and determine which nonprofits need the support and align with those passions.
If you already volunteer at a nonprofit that you think is terrific, you can ask them what they need on an ongoing basis and whether they can use your skills and experiences. You can also piggyback on other organizations such as your employer, church, or a service organization like Rotary or Kiwanis.
Companies and educational institutions partner with nonprofits as a way of increasing their capabilities. These assignments might include setting up computer systems, social media management and communications, or establishing processes to improve performance. Rise Against Hunger asked North Carolina State University to suggest improvements to their supply chain to get meals from the U.S. to partner organizations overseas. The charity implemented recommendations to streamline their processes, reduce the time of shipping, and support the food usage for receiving organizations.
Many volunteers join the Board of Directors at nonprofits. This gives organizations a broad base of skills, such as governance, planning, operations, finance, human resources, and fundraising.
A final area is consulting services. My career was in strategic planning, market analysis, and project management in industry. I volunteer my time to enhance the strategy and execution of several nonprofits. I am also part of several teams working on projects to grow their nonprofits and be more impactful. One project with an education nonprofit aims to enhance the offerings to rural communities while tailoring them to the needs of different regions.

Your time is as valuable as money. It can offer you enriching experiences and career opportunities. Your talents are needed by nonprofits to expand what they can offer programmatically and to improve internal efficiencies. I hope my story inspires you to think of new and innovative ways to support nonprofits. I can assure you that you will develop meaningful connections and a sense of fulfilment in ways you never imagined.

For more information on volunteering, you can check out these links on Charity Navigator’s website:

About the author:

The author, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a long-time supporter of Charity Navigator at a leadership level. He and his wife do more than donate to the causes they care about--they invest in their future. They dedicate their free time to closely working with the organizations they support to foster growth and innovation.

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