You’re fresh out of college and looking to make a difference. Or maybe you’re a few years into your career and starting to feel the itch to give back. Either way, you’re wondering how you can use your skills and knowledge to support a cause you care about.
Here’s how you can support a cause that’s important to you throughout your career:
When you’re just starting out, you might have more time to volunteer but less money overall. While you might not be able to donate as much as you’d like, early career, when you’re less busy, can be a great time to start volunteering.
Early career is also a great time to figure out how you want to volunteer and what organizations mesh with your values (and your preferred time commitment). For example, if you care about the environment, you could volunteer with an organization that works to protect endangered species or clean up local parks. If you’re interested in social justice, you might volunteer with a group that helps refugees or victims of domestic violence. This is a time to start establishing connections with organizations and figuring out how to use your skills in meaningful ways. You may want to take this time to reach out to a few different organizations to see what opportunities they offer and try working with different nonprofits.
In mid-career, you might be making more money and therefore might be able to start making bigger donations—or start making donations for the first time. You might be more strapped for time than earlier in your career, so you may have less time for volunteering outside of work.
Some workplaces have volunteer days or offer time off for employees to volunteer. If you’ve been working with an organization for a while, you might be able to coordinate a company-wide volunteer effort.
People nearing the end of their careers tend to be busy with work and other obligations. You might also be making more money at this point and make regular donations to organizations that have been meaningful to you throughout your career. You may even be able to set up a fund or scholarship. If you’re downsizing or getting rid of higher-value items, late-career can be a good time to donate useful items or sell things and donate the proceeds.
For many people, retirement is a time to relax and enjoy a well-earned break. It can also be a time to give back to the community and support causes that are important to you. Retired people often have more free time, and choose to use some of it to volunteer.
You can also make an organization that’s been important to you part of your legacy by leaving them something in your will. If you have a permanent life insurance policy, such as whole or universal life insurance, with a guaranteed death benefit, you might choose to name the organization (or organizations) as a beneficiary of your policy. This can be a great way to make a lasting impact and ensure that your support continues even after you’re gone.