Seventy-four percent of Americans say they would volunteer their time as a holiday gift to someone this year, according to a recent survey for The Responsibility Project. Resolving to extend that volunteer commitment into and throughout 2011, however, may be the greatest gift of all. For those with inspiration and the best intentions to make a local or global impact, knowing where and how to start volunteering can make all the difference.
During Walden University's sixth annual Social Change Conference, 'Volunteerism: Encouraging Individuals to Effect Societal Change,' a group of prominent changemakers offered suggestions about how to promote volunteerism and exemplify a commitment to social change. The panelists, from Ashoka U, Business Volunteers Unlimited Maryland, Taproot Foundation and Walden University, provided practical tips and a road map for individuals who want to make a personal commitment to volunteerism but don't know where to begin. Some tips they shared include:
- Think about what kind of positive social change you want to effect. Begin by considering a variety of social issues. What interests you? What angers you enough to make a positive change? Does a particular cause or organization have a personal meaning for you?
- Assess what specific skills or expertise you can offer to help address a particular need. Whether it's painting a school or serving on a nonprofit board, you have resources that organizations need. How do you want to make a difference? Do you prefer to work with your hands, team with other people, or help with the organization's management?
- Connect your passion and skills with your commitment to serve. How much time are you willing to commit - one hour per week or one day per year? Do you want to help in your local community or would you rather make an impact on a larger scale? Are you interested in volunteering on short-term or long-term projects?
- Ask your employer about pro-bono opportunities. Research ways your workplace can get involved that could benefit both the business and its community. How can you inspire your employer to give back? What opportunities are available for you and your colleagues to make a positive impact?
- Use a resource that can match you with an organization that needs your skills. Many tools are available to match volunteers with nonprofits in need. For example, through the online resource the Walden Service Network, Walden community members can find volunteer positions, recruit volunteers for community service events and log their volunteer hours. What resources and opportunities are available near you?
For more information, visit www.WaldenU.edu/conference to view an archive of this conference.
About Walden University
For 40 years, Walden University has supported working professionals in achieving their academic goals and making a greater impact in their professions and their communities. Today, more than 42,500 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries are pursuing their bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees at Walden. The university provides students with an engaging educational experience that connects them with expert faculty and peers around the world. Walden is the flagship online university in the Laureate International Universities network - a global network of more than 50 online and campus-based universities in 24 countries.
Walden offers more than 50 degree programs with more than 225 specializations and concentrations. Areas of study include health sciences, counseling, human services, management, psychology, education, public health, nursing, public administration, and information technology. For more information, visit www.WaldenU.edu. Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association, www.ncahlc.org.