Volunteering Your Way Through Unemployment
With unemployment rates rising and charitable giving dropping, I'm sure we've all noticed how the non-profit sector is struggling to keep services going. In an inspiring article in the New York Times, Kelley Holland makes a drive for un-, and under-, employed citizens to spend their "free" time volunteering. Ms. Holland notes, "more than two million people lost jobs in 2008, and many talented and experienced managers have time on their hands. If they started volunteering, they could help many nonprofits navigate the next couple of years."
The positives of volunteering per Ms. Holland's suggestions are multi-faceted. Aside from the obvious advantage of helping struggling non-profits maintain and build programs, volunteering puts you in contact with various people from a wide range of circles. With statistics showing that 3/4 of people find jobs through personal contacts, volunteering can only be a positive job-searching tool.
This era of history is unique in that those who usually are the most employable: managers, finance workers, and strategists, are struggling to find any work. This negative offers these individuals and nonprofits the opportunity to meet in an unprecedented nexus of cooperation and volunteerism. Managers with business experience, if they donate their time, could be invaluable to non-profits who are in need of guidance, but are lacking the funds to hire upper-level managers.
So, to all the laid-off workers out there: feeling guilty about using government unemployment benefits? What better way to "earn" this money than to donate time to charitable efforts that need it now more than ever.