Nonprofits survive on the support of communities. Without the valuable time and resources donated by the people who support them, nonprofits would all be flops.
These people include college students, although young people often are not as involved in philanthropic ventures as much they might like. This can be because they don’t know where to start, don’t have enough time, or don’t have the cash to support ventures.
Here are some tips to help find a starting place and narrow down your choices, and also ways to find time and money to give to the causes you care about.
1) Having trouble deciding which nonprofit to become involved with? Visit sites like Great Nonprofits and Volunteer Match to read short blurbs about organizations mission, and get links to their websites and contact information, all in one convenient location. Once you decide on an organization (or a few!) email their executive director, or give them a call. All nonprofits are in need of help, and they will most likely be thrilled to hear from you.
2) Once you find an awesome charity, you’ll obviously want to get involved. But a college student doesn’t exactly have a wide open schedule. Between classes, studying, extracurriculars, jobs, and a social life, there isn’t time for much else. But if you truly care about getting involved and donating your time, there are ways to change that. Turn your weekend hangout with friends into a volunteer day. Gather a group of your buds and take a few hours to give back–you can spend time together and feel good about yourselves. Talk about bonding! If your weekends are packed, pick your least busy day and volunteer for a few hours in the morning or at night. Make sure to be in contact with the nonprofit and work together to figure something out.
3) Volunteering is a great way to get involved for free, but you also might want to give financially. This can be especially tricky for poor college students. Even if you have a job, money tends to go towards food, books, and drinks on Friday nights rather than charities. But there are easy ways to save a little cash to donate, even a small amount makes a difference. Try to not eat out on the weekends. Skipping that weekly (or more) run to Chipotle can save you about $32 a month. That’s $384 a year! If you want to make some extra money instead of save, try picking up some extra hours at your job and vow to donate those paychecks to charity.
A charitable donation doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars or feel like a full-time job. A little time and a little money go a long way in the non-profit world, and if you find an organization you love and are passionate about, donating those things will be easy.
About the writer: Erin is a junior at the University studying Journalism and Entrepreneurship. She is undecided about what she wants to do after school. She is passionate about writing, dogs, and Chipotle.