Volunteering has always been something people aspire to do. Traditionally, volunteering took place in the form of donating money to a charity, or getting physically involved and spending time at an organisation. However, since the arrival of the digital age, COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and with people living busy lives, volunteering has taken on a new form.
If you would like to commit to giving back, but just don’t have the time, spare cash, or knowledge about what to do, you are not alone. Living in a country like South Africa, where there is no shortage of charitable organisations working to improve the lives of people less fortunate, means it’s important to do what you can. According to the volunteer activity survey of 2018, there were around 2,7 million active volunteers in South Africa, an increase of 1,4 million since 2010. This shows that more people want to, and are willing to, give back to those in need. The report goes on to say that the majority of volunteers were involved in one activity, meaning that most people who give back choose causes that mean something to them.
What’s also important to note is that the majority of donations took place in the form of food and money, and the total value that can be assigned to the amount of volunteer work done in 2018 is R13,2 billion. Thus, the value of even the smallest activity of giving back cannot be underestimated.
However, busy schedules coupled with the pandemic restricting movement has made it more of a challenge to give back in the traditional sense. All this means is that we need to think more creatively about practical, meaningful ways to make a difference. So, what are some ways you can do this? Below are 5 examples of how you can use your employment skills and day-to-day activities to help charitable organisations.
- If you’re a writer, offer your skills to improve messaging for a cause
All causes or charitable organisations need effective messaging to gain funding and support from the public. You can reach out to a local organisation and find out if they need any assistance with writing. It doesn’t have to be ongoing, but will be an invaluable contribution to a struggling organisation that needs help getting more funding, or even just gaining awareness.
- If you’re shopping online, give back with the swipe of a card
Shop online with retailers who give back to those who need it most. Sign up for a programme like MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet, whose retail partners include Woolworths, Builders, loot.co.za and Engen Foodstops Every time you shop and swipe your card, these retailers will give back to your chosen organization at no cost to you.
- If you’re a graphic designer, offer to design social media content
Running a charity in the digital age means social media is a very important tool to increase brand awareness and find new supporters. Often this job is left to the person who founded the organisation, and they may not always have the skills needed to design quality social media content.
Offer to design a few simple, evergreen posts that they can use across various platforms to boost engagement. Having quality, streamlined content will provide more credibility for the cause, and may assist in more people supporting them.
- If you’re a personal trainer, provide free online classes to keep kids active
Many charitable organisations like orphanages or safe houses have children who need to be kept entertained, healthy and educated. If you are a personal trainer, or have a qualification in sports, consider teaching a few virtual classes to children. Most people donate food and clothing, which remains of utmost importance, but activities like these are rarely considered.
By helping children learn how to exercise and stay fit, you are contributing to not just their mood, but helping them stay healthy. The best part is, you won’t need to leave your home to do this. To make the contribution more sustainable, you could draw up an easy-to-follow exercise regime that the kids can follow along every day. You can do this through recording a video, or writing it up for the organisation to follow.
- If you’re a doctor, offer free telephone or online consultations
This will be an invaluable resource for any organisation you contact, especially for safe houses who don’t have the privilege of in-house doctors or medical staff. Even if you can only dedicate one day or a few hours to speak to a few patients, this will make the world of difference. This of won’tfully replace an in-person observation, but it would still be helpful for patients who are experiencing non-life threatening illnesses or symptoms. It could even just be an overall wellness check, where you go through a general checklist to make sure patients are in relatively good health.
The reality is that many of us won’t be able to dedicate as much time as we want to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still make an impact. These are but a few examples of ways to do so, and you can find even more ways to give back depending on the unique skills you possess.