I have had to get creative with my volunteering lately while carless here in Wisconsin so I thought that I would make this Monday Spotlight all about volunteering and donating in creative ways.  One of the largest obstacles in getting people to donate their money or time today is that in order to do so, we feel that we have to bring the rest of our entire life to a halt.  I don’t know why, but in the back of our minds volunteering is a much larger activity than it really is.  To schedule a time to give our time with no return besides the greatness of the fact we are volunteering seems to be a concept even I have a difficult time with once in a while.  Ultimately then, we need to find ways that our loves, passions and enjoyments come out in our volunteering and donating.

I have put together these few things to at least get your minds going.  The fact is, we all do want to donate our time and money.  It is a human instinct to give.  So, in the year 2012, we just need to become more creative sometimes in our giving when circumstances aren’t to any extremes.

  • Wines For Humanity: My friend Angie is always so great about finding these ways to volunteer and fundraise that just amazes me.  I don’t know when she finds the time but thankfully she does because she finds me gems like this.  Wines for Humanity has strong feelings about homelessness. The hosts of these private wine tastings and their guests relax while enjoying the wines in a fun, educational environment. Not only does everyone have an extraordinary time with great wines and good friends, but a portion of the proceeds from every bottle promoted also directly benefits families in their community who find themselves on the brink of homelessness for reasons beyond their control.

                               Here in Wisconsin, the primary organization that receives the benefit is Porchlight, one of the organizations I have mentioned in the Madison section of Project Kinect.  Look into who your consultant is in your area to find out the organizations who are benefiting from Wines for Humanity.  This really is a great way for us wine drinkers to get together, taste some great wine and donate some money to an extremely important cause. 

  • Volunteering While Traveling:  I could kick myself for all of the times that I didn’t volunteer while I was traveling.  So many trips in my twenties that I didn’t even think about volunteering.  I know, as we all say, “it’s a vacation!  Why should you be working?”  Well, volunteering is not working because the word work implies that you’re getting paid.   When you’r

    This family we met up with twice. Once was at the Salvation Army distrobution center and the other was Dressing Up Tuscaloosa. They planned their vacation around this need to volunteer.

    e on vacation, you end up doing day trips and excursions and sightseeing; so why not decide to volunteer while you’re sight-seeing?  You will definitely get the spontaneous excursion that you were looking for.  Here are two additional links to give you some ideas of how to find volunteer opportunities while on vacation.  I do apologize, these websites are more geared for abroad travelers but even domestically, you can find great volunteer opportunities in any community.  You can also take it one step further and plan your vacation around a volunteer opportunity just like this family did who we met when we were in Tuscaloosa.

                                        I to I Volunteering

                                        Spunky Girls Monologues: 37 Ways to Volunteer While Traveling

Really though, this is all just to get you thinking about volunteering and how it doesn’t have to be a chore.  Look at what you absolutely love to do in your life, and find a way to share that or combine that in a volunteer opportunity.  My grandmother loves to play games and socialize.  So, two days a week, she goes to the nursing home in her town and plays bingo, colors, or chooses an assortment of other games with the residents.  For her, she gets to do what she loves and coincidentally, my mother works there as well as some of her friends are there.   My grandma would never consider this time volunteering, but that is what she is doing and the residents love her.  It is in there, in our happiness, where we can be the best “volunteer” that we can be.  Remember Jo who I met at the Tampa Hostel?  Look at how much volunteering she did as she was sailing around the world teaching yoga to all those youth at every port they stopped?  Her job for seventeen years was to sail that boat for the family on it.  She would have never considered her time “volunteering” when she was with any of those children. When volunteering isn’t in an extreme situation like natural disasters, then we must find that balance of where we volunteer hand-in-hand with something we love.