Shoulda Coulda Woulda - Stop shoulding all over yourself - Shifthappens.comEven if you have No Job and No Money, the one thing you have is time. You can’t spend 24/7 looking for a job or worrying about your finances. Use your free time to get involved in a local charity. Find a charity you believe in and donate some of your energy and time. Hundreds of local, nonprofit organizations are in need of volunteers, so your efforts are sure to be rewarded and appreciated at the same time. They may need your specific skills or just ‘warm bodies.’ Either way, it’s a change of pace that may lead to other opportunities or just a chance to feel good about you.

Let’s talk about the rewards. There are many reasons to consider sharing your time and talents with individuals or organizations that are in need of assistance. There are many diverse causes that need volunteers in every community. If you don’t already know where you’d like to donate service hours, spend some time thinking about the type of cause you’re interested in and look for relatable local opportunities.

You are probably asking yourself, ‘how can I donate my time when I have no job, money and worried about what to do to ‘shift’ my own situation?’

Top 8 reasons to volunteer while unemployed or underemployed:

1. Supporting a worthwhile cause: This is a feel good moment. By becoming involved in a charity’s goal you are focusing on something other than yourself. This may provide the breathing room you need to ‘step outside’ your own box or, even better, get ‘inside the box’ to discover how to find a way to solve your own problems.

2. Gaining valuable skills and experience. The choice of charities is up to you. As a volunteer you will learn something, meet others and obtain new experiences. You may also learn new job skills. Tell the volunteer coordinator what you’d like to help with and they usually pave the way with a bit of training.

3. Offering assistance to those less fortunate than you. No matter how miserable you may feel about your own situation someone is more despondent than you. Finding how they cope with their situation can be uplifting you. You may become inspired to ‘stop shoulding’ and start doing something to create your own shift.

4. Enjoying an opportunity to work with like-minded people. Here is another benefit; charities have ‘glue’ that bonds volunteers together. Whether it’s fundraising for the zoo, the aquarium, a museum, a hospital, research or the environment other volunteers share a similar interest. It gives you a mutual interest that opens up discussion, builds friendships, increases business connections and often results in new opportunities. Conversations with like-minded people often enhance a positive attitude.

5. Repaying assistance received in the past. Payback is also paying it forward. Donating your time will have dividends that may open doors, stimulate discussion and often find a solution. People involved in charities are ‘giving back’ and they may be able to give to you more than you realize.

6. Raising money for an illness, animal shelter, the environment, homeless, etc. When people are focused on raising money the discussion about your job, your business and your interests all become natural talking points. Find a passion, offer your hard work, knowledge, prior experience and wisdom and you will be amazed at what you get in return.

7. Volunteering looks great on your resume. If you do not have a lot of work experience, you are underemployed or if you are changing career paths, then adding volunteer work can help round out your resume. The work does not necessarily need to relate to your job experience. Volunteering can also build self-confidence, show employers you are making a change, sharpen skills, create additional references or simply show employers you are a well-rounded potential employee. According to many experts, you may put unpaid or pro bono positions in chronological order in the job section of your resume or call it out in a separate volunteer section. If you are unemployed for a significant amount of time, this will help fill the gap in your work experience.

8. Creating a network of people that can help you find a new job or offer suggestions to making money. Every charity that I have been involved with gave me opportunities and contacts that I would have never found without my involvement.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Examine your schedule.
  • Look at blocks of time where you can donate a minimum of three hours to a charitable organization. If you have no job, you have lots of time so this should not be a problem.
  • Go to The American Institute of Philanthropy grades each charity on a comprehensive scale based on their finances and organization. Your focus should be to research charities to which you have a genuine interest.
  • Visit the website of charities where you would like to donate your time. Make a list of the ones that accept volunteers and write down the contact information.
  • Contact each charity and confirm that they are still accepting volunteers. Sometimes they have so many volunteers; there is a waiting list. This happens often with zoos, museums, orchestras, aquariums, etc. Arrange a meeting or a convenient time for you to visit and have an informal chat with the individual who can explain the opportunities for your involvement. Let the volunteer coordinator know what your skill set is and your other interests.
  • Evaluate the work that is being done by the volunteers and see where you might fit in.
An excerpt from my new book, Shift Happens! No Job, No Money, Now What?