The idea of volunteering is appealing to many – but actually volunteering is another story. As we age, we often become busier, which can make it difficult to dedicate time to these kinds of activities. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to fit volunteering into your schedule with a bit of effort.
Finding Time To Volunteer
Balancing volunteer opportunities with work and family life is a delicate situation, but it’s manageable, with a bit of strategy.
Consider these tips:
- Organize a volunteer group – Volunteering solo might be easier to set up, but doing so with friends can be beneficial for many reasons – aside from being surrounded by people that you appreciate and get along with, it’s likely that at least one member of the group will help coax others into volunteering consistently.
- Choose an organization that fits your schedule – Once you’ve secured a full-time job, finding the time – and mental capacity – to volunteer on workdays can be difficult. If you’re working Monday through Friday, opt for an organization that operates on weekends. Likewise, if your off-days land in the middle of the week, choose a group that’s active when you’re available.
- Set a predetermined schedule – Keeping your priorities straight is an important task when you’re busy, and this usually involves planning ahead. Set aside a day or two per week – or every other week, if that’s too much – that is dedicated to community service, and stick with that plan regardless of how you feel about it the day of. Once you’re used to regular volunteer work, it will become increasingly easy to show up.
- Find your volunteering niche – Are you particularly skillful in a certain area? Use your strengths to your advantage. If you’re able, find a charitable organization where your talents are utilized to a greater extent than they would be during a general activity. This will not only allow you to be active in the community, but to develop personally – a benefit that might drive you to volunteer more often and have a positive effect on your career.
- Volunteer on holidays – Sacrificing a day of leisure may not sound appealing, but charitable organizations don’t always take breaks to enjoy holidays. Search for an opportunity that takes place on the morning of a holiday, perhaps, which will make it easy for you to log service hours while opening the rest of the day for family time.
With these tips, a little motivation and keen organization skills, it’s possible to find time for community service within even the busiest schedule.
Volunteer With United Way
United Way of Greater Cleveland works with over 100 local programs that assist local families and individuals in need. Contact us today to learn more about how you can help us further our cause.
For 104 years, United Way of Greater Cleveland has served Cuyahoga County by funding health and human service programs that provide critical services to those in need. From food and shelter to education initiatives and employment training, United Way strives to support the essential needs of our community.
Raise and Allocate Funding
The central purpose of United Way is to raise and allocate funds for social services across Greater Cleveland and the region – helping more than 400,000 people in 2016 alone.
United Way raises money for its 128 funded programs through federated giving, workplace campaigns and individual donations. Running one of the oldest campaigns in the country, United Way of Greater Cleveland raised more than $40 million, from more than 70,000 individuals, during its 2016 campaign.
Once the funds have been raised, United Way allocates to essential programs across the county. Allocation decisions are made with the help of a group of diverse volunteers from the communities served. Every funded agency is vetted and held to best-practice standards to ensure ethical and proper distribution of funds. Funded programs fall into one of four United Way impact areas: Education, Financial Stability, Health and Basic Needs.
Community Events and Affinity Groups
Beyond raising funds for agencies that provide critical services and programs, United Way provides networking and volunteer service opportunities for those living and working in Greater Cleveland and the region.
Affinity groups like Young Leaders and the Women’s Leadership Council give professionals at the start of their careers and working women opportunities to network and socialize with community-conscious individuals. These opportunities allow the volunteers to be both intimately involved with United Way, while expanding their respective networks.
Cultivating community and corporate partnerships throughout Northeast Ohio, United Way of Greater Cleveland leverages its connections to make Cleveland greater, together.
United Way is also proud to have a number of strong Corporate partnerships throughout our community. Companies participating in the Stellar Campaign program — which requires committing to a five percent increase over the previous year’s gift — often run their campaigns early. Many corporations match the gifts of its employees, doubling the impact the organization has on Greater Cleveland.
Corporate partners often have Days of Action – volunteer events organized by United Way — offering employees a chance to give back to the community. Another example of a corporate partnership is United Way’s work with University Hospitals, which committed to completing 150,000 hours of community service by May 2017 for its 150th anniversary.
Together, We’re Greater!
Through the support of thousands of dedicated volunteers and donors, the community is strengthened and a greater sense of hope and success is instilled in its people. From providing much needed funds to partner agencies to participating as volunteers at Days of Action, everyone involved with United Way of Greater Cleveland, whether through time, talent or treasure, have most certainly made a significant impact.
They have made it possible to enhance our impact areas to help reduce poverty, help our children thrive, empower individuals and families and create a healthier, financially stable and more resilient community.
Nothing happens without you; and that’s why, together, we’re greater!
With high school graduation rates on the rise, more students are entering the working world with a high school diploma or equivalent than ever before. Moving toward financial stability, students in Greater Cleveland have a number of options after high school—from entering the workforce to attending a university—and there are support services for whatever path students choose.
Attending a College or University
Many higher-paying positions require some type of degree or certificate. Many schools offer scholarships for continuing education opportunities, and outside organizations like College Now of Greater Cleveland provide further funding avenues, as well as mentorship and counseling opportunities.
Learning a Trade
For recent grads who don’t want to spend another four years in school but would like to secure a stable, good-paying job, trade schools offer an attractive alternative. While many high schools have done away with their vocational programs, many community colleges and organizations offer partnerships with businesses to provide continuing education opportunities.
For example, The Centers for Families and Children’s El Barrio Workforce Development program, funded in part by United Way of Greater Cleveland, offers training in hospitality and service industries. It also maintains partnerships with Cuyahoga County Community College and the Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to offer three-month programs for mechanics and train or bus operators.
Going Directly into the Workforce
Some students may choose to move directly into the working world, and they can find stable employment in several industries throughout Greater Cleveland, including restaurant, retail, and nonprofit work.
Cleveland is a nationally recognized foodie paradise and offers recent graduates the chance to work in everything from Korean barbecue to rooftop bars and lounges. The restaurant industry can prepare employees for future careers in culinary arts and possible entrepreneurship.
Retail work can help anyone from fashionistas at major labels to tech-heads working at a computer repair store find their niche.
Programs like Youth Opportunities Unlimited’s Jobs for Ohio’s Graduates can provide career coaching and support, including career exploration, summer job placements, and internships.
These are just a few of the many partners working with United Way of Greater Cleveland to find financial stability for recent high school graduates. Whether grads hope to pursue continuing education opportunities or enter the workforce directly, options abound!
Photo Credit: US Department of Education
Nonprofits are always looking for volunteers—from food pantries to mentors or web designers—but uncommitted or unreliable volunteering can hurt an organization more than the free labor can help. In a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service, one in three volunteers who give their time in one year, do not give their time the next.
To curb turnover and make the most of a volunteer opportunity, here are some considerations to take into account when looking for volunteer work.
What’s Your Level of Commitment?
From single-day projects to several year engagements, there are volunteer opportunities for every commitment level. Volunteer training or orientation often takes time from paid nonprofit employees, so high turnover rates cost organizations more than just a loss of labor.
When thinking about where to do volunteer work, keep in mind who you will be working with. A single-day community park or school renovation project takes less commitment than mentoring youth.
For example, students at George Washington Carver Elementary School, a participating school in the United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Wraparound strategy, want to build a relationship with volunteers.
“It’s relationship building that shows there are people in the community cheering them on,” said site coordinator Tiffany Allen. “Every time I introduce someone, [the students’] question is always ‘When are they coming back?’ They’re really interested and appreciate when people can come back.”
Are You Passionate About the Cause?
Donating your time to an organization in line with your interests and passions can increase commitment. Research local organizations involved with causes you’re interested in and find the ones that are the most successful.
Keep your professional skills in mind as well. For example, if you’re an accountant or good with numbers, Enterprise Community Partners could use your skills as a tax preparer for filers qualified for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program or the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
What Type of Work Fits You?
You’ve evaluated your commitment and found a cause you’re interested in. Now, it’s time to find volunteer work that matches your skill set and personality.
If you like kids, you could perform volunteer work at a school or community center. If you’re not as much of a people person, look at beautification projects like United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Hometown Huddle at local schools.
Whatever your interests or time frame, United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Get Connected site can help connect you with volunteer opportunities and track your hours.