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How to get started in the philanthropic world: 6 ideas for accessible Volunteering.

When you hear the word "volunteer" what comes to mind?

Carpenters building houses? Doling out soup during Thanksgiving? Aiding your child's teacher for a day?

Although these are all important and noble endeavors, they aren't the only way to give back. Many of us count out volunteering because we have limited time or because our talents don't stereotypically transfer over to a volunteer position.

Studies show making time to volunteer pays off. According to an article from the Corporation for USA National and Community Service, people who volunteer enjoy a host of health benefits. "Over the past two decades we have seen a growing body of research that indicates volunteering provides individual health benefits in addition to social benefits. This research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer."

Volunteering has become extremely accessible in recent years. There are a host of different ways to give back that fit into your schedule and highlight your talents. Short on time? Don't know how to swing a hammer?

Here are some ideas on how to get started in the philanthropic world:

1.) Start small.

Don't think of volunteering as a second job. If you're short on time or leery of making another commitment to your already-stretched schedule, look for annual ways of giving back, such as National Trails Day, where many volunteer their time to clean up a local hiking/walking trail.

2.) Partner up.

Sometimes social time can be hard to come by. Consider organizing a group of friends to donate time to a cause you're passionate about. It's a great way to catch up socially and give back.

3.) Look for remote opportunities.

If your talents are in the realm of tech, there are a host of different ways to volunteer remotely. Idealist has a great search tool that allows you to find volunteer opportunities that you can do from home in your spare time. You can have a

4.) Make it a travel destination.

Visioneers is an incredible place to plan your next volunteer-based vacation. With a global reach and an interest in corporate volunteering as well as family volunteering, Visioneers is a wonderful resource to find a good volunteer match abroad.

5.) Focus on something you're passionate about.

Have a love of animals? Photography? Food? The options are endless when it comes to giving back. Volunteer Match is a great site to help you find a volunteering opportunity that speaks to your talents. You can find out more about it on our "10 Interesting Websites for Finding International Volunteering Opportunities" post.

6.) Reach out.

Sometimes the best volunteering opportunity is one that you create yourself. Look up an organization you’d like to give back to and ask if they have any volunteer opportunities.

It’s easy to feel as though only volunteering small in accessible ways isn’t enough. The need for volunteering is overwhelming. Instead, consider the impact just one day can have on so many lives.

In the philanthropic world, a little is so much more than nothing at all.

By Sarah Ronau

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