The 9/11anniversary serves as a reminder to all Americans of the impact giving can makeon a community struck by tragedy. Whether you’re donating your time ormoney, BBB Wise GivingAlliance (WGA) recommendsthat you do your research when finding an organization. BBB WGA producesreports on more than 1,200 nationally soliciting charitable organizations.Local Better Business Bureaus report on another 10,000 local and regionalcharities.
Accordingto the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Alabama ranked 3rd nationallyin charitable contributions for 2012. Donating your time to a charity is inmany ways similar to making a cash donation. Much of the work that charitiesperform is made possible because of volunteers. According to the most recentnumbers from the Bureau of LaborStatistics, 64.5million people volunteered for an organization at least once between September2011 and September 2012.
BBB Wise Giving Alliancerecommends taking the following five steps to make sure your time and energyare put to great use as a volunteer:
Identify your skills. Volunteering opportunities areavailable for any skill level. Consider what you’re good at and what servicesyou’d be particularly well-equipped to provide. From stuffing envelopes toconstruction, you can find a good fit regardless of your education ortalents.
Consider your passions. Maximize your enthusiasm forvolunteering by finding an issue that resonates with your own personalpassions. By identifying your passions, you’re more likely to stay engaged withthe charity and be a more effective volunteer.
Determine your availability. Make a realistic estimate ofhow much time you’re willing to give. It’s better to volunteer the amount oftime you can reasonably handle.
Do your research. Just as you would before making a cash donation,research the charity fully before you volunteer to make sure the organizationhas a commitment to standards and accountability. You can view BBB WGAStandards for Charitable Accountability for free at www.bbb.org/charity.
Commit to stick with it. If early attempts atvolunteering weren’t a good fit, keep at it and look for new opportunities togive back. In a tough economy, charities need the support of volunteers morethan ever.