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Where to Volunteer When You Don't Have Much Time

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by Janice Heath (subscribe)
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Published July 7th 2013
Help save the world in a weekend or less
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Have a little bit of time and energy?


There is a mind-blowing array of volunteer activities you can do in a minimal amount of time or on a short-term basis. It's possible to donate your time for 10 seconds, 30 minutes, a few hours, a day or a weekend. You can contribute whatever amount of time suits you. How easy is that?

So where can you volunteer when you don't have much time? Here's what I've discovered along the way although I'm sure there are many more answers.



1. Micro volunteering

With micro volunteering you can volunteer from home, on your lunchbreak, on holiday, from anywhere really. If you have anything between 30 seconds and 30 minutes available then helpfromhome has more than 800 ideas for online and offline volunteer contributions. Specialist skills are not usually required and many of the actions can be done in a very short space of time. You can play games, participate in quizzes, support petitions or even donate your hair. Some of the more unusual actions are: helping marine scientists understand whale song, mapping disabled access issues, monitoring earthquakes, a hunt for the Loch Ness monster and making origami cranes. The options are endless and you can choose your actions according to your interests and how much time you have available.

Also check out other sites such as onlinevolunteering which is a free service from the United Nations Volunteers programme that connects development organizations with online volunteers.

2. Spontaneous volunteering

You know the kind. There's a flood, a bushfire or other requirement for fast help and people who may not be regular volunteers want to get involved and lend a hand. You can register as an emergency volunteer here, keep an eye out for opportunities in the media or just decide to spontaneously do something, like help out a neighbour or go and give blood.

3. Volunteering at events

Think music festivals, bike rides, marathons, cultural events, races, fetes, conservation activities, any event really. Events by their very nature have requirements for extra short term volunteers. Phone or check the websites of the organisations/events you are interested in. Chances are that the next event you were planning to attend has a need for volunteers. If you have a favourite charity see what requirements they might have for short-term or one-off volunteers. Aside from making a contribution to the community, event volunteering can provide added benefits such as free attendance at the event, good company, food and drink, merchandise and simply having a great time while helping out.

3. Big websites with the lot

This would be the likes of Victoria's Volunteering Portal and GoVolunteer where you can filter your search for volunteer opportunities by type wanted (including micro and event), interest and location. Some of the volunteering opportunities can be done at home or online.

4. Gumtree

You can't overlook this gem of a site whose advertisers range from the corporate to the quirky. A quick search of their volunteer listings produced a variety of one-off volunteer opportunities with roles ranging from DJ, bartender, facepainter and camera operator through to fence demolition and replanting a forest.

5. Go local

Councils, schools, hospitals, sporting clubs, community centres and volunteer coordination centres are all good sources of information on opportunities for short term and one-off volunteering close to home.

Of course if you want to volunteer on a regular basis, you will be warmly welcomed by any number of organisations. If that's not doable however, it's still really worthwhile to make a contribution of whatever time you have to give.

Over to you now. Any volunteering ideas and/or experiences you'd like to add? We'd love to hear about them!
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Why? Make good use of your spare moments
When: Anytime
Where: Anywhere
Cost: Free
Your Comment
At Christmas I volunteer my time and gift wrap shoppers gifts for a gold coin for MS Society. It's totally great fun and everyone has a great time raising money for this great cause. I've been doing it now for around 3 or 4 years. I also am in a Charity and on the Committee for VIEW CLUB (View = voice. Interests education of women) we raise money for our 5 disadvantaged children and help fund their education. VIEW CLUB is connected to The Smith Family. We meet monthly and their are clubs all round Australia.
Serving the community one way or another including Animal shelters where you can commit to walking the beautiful dogs that need a walk. The Starlight foundation is another too. Their is a lot one can do and do when you want or to get very involved or not so. What another great way to meet new like minded people.

You can also help at the city mission sorting food parcels or clothing. My friend did that and felt fulfilled at the end of the day.
Volunteering is good for the soul!
by summer (score: 2|306) 1317 days ago
Thanks for the great ideas ;)
by Joy (score: 3|1890) 1838 days ago
thank you so much for this! i've been trying to volunteer in my local community but they don't have open positions.. good thing i found your article..
by deeh. (score: 1|24) 1839 days ago
A very informative article. I never knew about all the things you can volunteer for! Thanks!
by Jojo.a.gogo (score: 2|168) 1761 days ago
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