Saturday, October 17, 2009

More than Just Money: Helping Charities

In the current economy, charities encounter a double-bind: increased need coupled with lower donations. You may want to support a favorite cause but have fewer financial resources. Good news: contributions of time and professional expertise are also valued. My top suggestions:

Program Services: Staff the hot line, counsel youth, build houses.

Administration: Wearing multiple hats, nonprofit staff are stretched thin but many donors shy away from financial support of overhead and administration. It still needs to get done, of course. Do you know how to get a mailing out? Manage an event? Archive, organize or file? Answer the phone? Edit a newsletter? Solicit donations? Come on in!

Technology: Regrettably nonprofit hardware, software, social media strategies, and technology budgets may lag years behind the corporate world. This slows organizational and mission effectiveness. If you are technologically adept, nonprofits will gratefully welcome your help with every aspect of managing and furthering technology.

Training and development: A charity's professional development budgets may be a fraction of that in the for-profit sector. If you love to teach, share your expertise in team-building, wellness, leadership, reading financial statements, employment law, emerging technologies, etc. HR professionals, help a charity update their employee handbook or improve their performance management system.

Supporting charities doesn’t solely mean writing checks or ladling lunch at a soup kitchen--as appreciated as both of those actions are. Your professional skills go a long way toward supporting the necessary infrastructure to do good in the world. And if you are between jobs, why not lend a hand to a good cause while also preparing for that later interview question, "So, how have you been spending your time?"

To find volunteer opportunities, try Idealist or Volunteer Match. Good luck and have fun!

photo by moonjazz

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