How to Not Suck at Volunteering During the Holidays

By United Way of King County, on November 19, 2014 | In Volunteering

This may come as a surprise, but you’re not the only person who wants to volunteer during the holidays. To help you be the best volunteer you can be, we’ve put together a quick “do not do” list plus a list of what you should do!

Up first! What NOT TO DO this holiday season:

  • Make up your own volunteer project without asking a nonprofit if the work is helpful or needed.
  • Call a nonprofit the day before you want to volunteer. Let me save you the trouble: they don’t have space for you. Sorry!
  • Be offended if a nonprofit can’t use your time right now. I promise, they wish they could.
  • Show up with a handful of friends without telling anyone. More is NOT better.
  • Cancel last minute. It leaves the nonprofit in a lurch and that’s no good. Don’t take one of these coveted volunteer slots if there’s a chance you can’t make it.

Now onto what you SHOULD DO: Start with this list of local agencies that need your help. If nothing catches your eye, here are some other ideas:

  • Can’t make it to see Grandma this year? Consider visiting someone else’s grandparent who otherwise might not get a visitor this holiday season. Visit the senior center in your neighborhood or help with Thanksgiving deliveries.
  • Think about what you could do on your own. Giving back doesn’t just mean serving a meal. You could… Give blood. Start a clothing drive at your apartment building or workplace for organizations like YouthCare, Treehouse or Wellspring Family Services. Convince your friends, family or fantasy football league to adopt-a-family. Make a donation in honor of someone instead of giving them a material gift.
  • Really into giving food or serving a meal? Great. Join something that exists already!

Google your neighborhood food bank and find out what they need. Most of them have a wish list, so make sure to grab the items on that list.

  • Trot it out. Get a little exercise while helping out a local organization. It’s a win-win.

Seattle Turkey Trot benefits the Ballard Food Bank and HopeLink has a different Turkey Trot in Kirkland. Better yet, run whatever race you want and raise money to support the organization that is nearest and dearest to your heart.

  • Make it a habit. You’re all pumped up to volunteer right now, so why don’t you use some of that energy finding three places you want to volunteer in 2017? Then set calendar reminders every few months so that you actually do it. Otherwise come December 2017 you’ll be wondering why you haven’t volunteered yet (or maybe that’s us who is wondering that?).

Have fun making other people’s day!


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