By Jordan Hannan
It seems that there’d be absolutely no way that a middle schooler could raise four thousand dollars from a charity bake sale in an elementary school cafeteria, but I did. For four consecutive years.
My limited skill set would never allow for even the formation of this service project. However, when combined with that of my peers, family, and school community, we were able to donate a total of $16,000 to the Marfan Foundation. My grandmother’s and teachers’ baking, parents’ organization, and peers’ support were equally integral in ensuring the success of the project, though I doubt our eager patrons ever realized just how many uniquely talented people had helped in its creation.
While it’s obvious that any business would need website developers, accountants, leaders, handymen, or marketers, we tend to disregard that a nonprofit might need to fill those roles also. There is far more to any organization than the food drives and charity events that one-time volunteers attend. Without the donation of your skills, nonprofits would never be able run successfully, eliminating all potential for service opportunities or positive change.
The concept of volunteering tends to get put into a box--as if the only way you can contribute to your community is by donating a bag full of canned green beans once a year. Instead, nonprofits are the culmination of innumerable volunteers’ talents. If you are looking to provide long-term support for your favorite charity, here are some ways you can get started:
Take a look at your career. Your résumé is filled with skills that can be easily applied to serve others, whether you are a teen with a part-time summer job or a parent with a twenty-year history with your corporation. My mom provides a great example: She’s an accountant, making her extremely organized and comfortable with numbers, so she volunteers as the head of the finance committee at our parish. Similarly, if you tutor younger kids, you would be a wonderful addition to the Gigi's Playhouse team. If you wait tables, A Place at the Table would love to have you.
Reconfigure your hobbies. While there are plenty of service opportunities that align exactly with your interests (check out our blog regarding this here), don’t limit yourself to just those. A friend of my parents, Jon, exemplified this perfectly by channeling his knack for construction into creating a book cart for our local NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). If you love to draw, find a nonprofit in need of new digital advertisements. Try leading a charity 5k if you’re a talented runner or great host. Focus on why you excel in your extracurriculars rather than activities themselves.
The balance between school, work, service, athletics, and social activities may seem overwhelming or nearly impossible; allow Triangle Cares to help you find time to serve in next week's blog.
Jordan Hannan and Jordan Lappin