Teen-Friendly Volunteer Projects for the Summer

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Poolside lounging, backyard barbecues, beach vacations – three summertime staples that spark joy in almost all of our hearts. But the summer season wasn’t made just for rest and relaxation; the midyear sunshine is also perfect for philanthropy. Though many working adults don’t have the luxury of enjoying the same extended break their school-aged children have, luckily, philanthropy is an equal opportunity activity. When it comes to volunteering, the summer offers endless possibility and plenty of free time to pursue. Here are three teen-friendly volunteer projects for the summer.

1. Building
For those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, why not dive into a building project? Charities like Habitat for Humanity and The Fuller Center for Housing build homes for people in need, while organizations like Bikes for Goodness Sake build bikes for underprivileged children. If your teenager’s heart lies in education, plenty of nonprofits like BuildOn Global dedicate their volunteer hours to constructing schools for underserved communities.

If building houses and schools requires too much physical exertion, think outside-of-the-box and create your own nonprofit or charity. The business can be as small and short-term as a weekend lemonade stand, or as complex and long-term as an online boutique of handmade crafts. Once the profits start rolling in, take the proceeds and donate them to a worthy cause.

2. Cleanup
Many of the spaces we occupy and enjoy require tedious, behind-the-scenes work to keep clean. However, the bright sunshine of summer provides the perfect motivation to lend a helping hand. Commit to sprucing up the neighborhood. Gather a group of friends and create a gameplan to clean up one (or a few) of the following spaces:

  • The Beach
  • A Heavily Littered Street
  • An Elder’s House or Yard
  • A Local Park
  • Your Neighborhood Common Areas

3. Social
Get social! For all the extroverts and social butterflies, your time and attention can prove to be a priceless gift. Help your fellow man by participating in a bit of good ol’ fashioned, face-to-face interaction. Consider visiting a rest home, hospital or hospice center and sharing your company. Enroll as a Big Brother or Sister (if you are over the age of eighteen) or offer your literary expertise to a summer reading program at your nearest library, bookstore or daycare.

“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” — Tom Brokaw

Although the free time that accompanies summer break is traditionally consumed by self-serving pursuits, what better time to do more than is required? There are millions of causes, both locally and globally, waiting for the attention and action of a future philanthropist. You are never too young to make a difference. The leaders of tomorrow start by creating change today. So, this summer, encourage the teens in your life to get out of the house, take advantage of the sunshine and make a real-world impact through volunteerism.   

Brad and Julie DuncanTeen-Friendly Volunteer Projects for the Summer
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Ready To Pursue Altruism? Four Things To Ponder On

Altruism sounds noble and heroic, a highly commendable act because of the many advantages it brings. By devoting time and energy to worthy causes, you contribute to the betterment of society and improve your overall well-being. The myriad of benefits that you can gain from philanthropic endeavors makes it easy to think that nothing can go wrong.

However there is a thin line between good and bad deeds. As Russian novelist, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it, “The battle-line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.” Philanthropy is meant to create a significant impact on the lives of others, but it will be a careless act if you do it without enough knowledge about a cause or unclear intentions about a charity. Thinking about the following factors listed below can help you prepare for your altruistic endeavors.

Consider your values along with your interests.

The first thing you have to do is decide which non-profit organization  you would you like to support. You can arrive at a good decision by taking into consideration your values and interests. If you are interested in the healthcare profession and want to help people cope with their illnesses, it may be a good idea to join a medical mission. Or if you love children and have a knack for teaching, you can be a volunteer tutor in an orphanage or children’s center. On the other hand, nature lovers can support environmental projects. Aligning your altruistic deeds with your values and interests will ignite your passion for a certain cause. Philanthropy will then cease to feel like work and becomes a very rewarding experience.

Check your intentions.

The reasons for doing philanthropy vary per individual. Some may do charitable work because they want to enhance a skill or simply to pass time. Sadly, there are also people who donate to charities or serve as volunteers because of vanity and recognition. Your reason for going into philanthropy should be clear right from the start. If you clearly define the results that you want to achieve, you gain inspiration to work towards the goals that you set. It will also help you measure the success of your efforts.

The organization and the cause it supports will benefit whatever reason a philanthropist may have for helping. However, if you truly want to gain the benefits of philanthropy, you need to do it to genuinely help others. A number of research studies prove the many benefits of doing philanthropy for others. One study published in Journal of Health Psychology proves the correlation between doing volunteer work and low mortality among old people.

Assess your knowledge, skills and resources.

Upon deciding which cause to support, start to think of the best ways you can help by assessing your skills and resources. If you have money to spare, the amount of financial support you can give will be much appreciated and go a long way. However, philanthropy is not limited to monetary means, so you should also assess how you can contribute with your skills and talents.

Along with this, you should also check your knowledge about the cause. You risk the chance of doing more harm than good if you are ignorant about the cause you are supporting. To gain enthusiasm about a project, you need to be aware of its history and missions. You can set some time to attend the orientation or training that an organization sometimes offer to new volunteers.

Gauge your willingness to commit.

Once you sign up to lend a hand to a group or project, be prepared to commit to the tasks given to you until the end. Your participation will hardly make a difference if you only exert effort at the start. Take a moment to check your schedule and see if other obligations will prevent you from committing to an organization wholeheartedly. You should also be aware of the challenges that come with the tasks so you can ensure you can complete them.

Philanthropy reminds us that we are here in this world to touch lives. That no matter how small, weak or insignificant you think you are, there is always something you can do to help. However, you do not want to be trapped in the middle of doing it for others or doing it for your own selfish interest. So, spend time on self-reflecting to truly feel the essence of your philanthropic efforts.

Brad and Julie DuncanReady To Pursue Altruism? Four Things To Ponder On
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Philanthropy Is Possible Without Spending A Penny

Do you have this burning desire to extend goodwill to others yet feel constrained with financial issues yourself? Most people associate philanthropy with wealthy individuals which are capable of donating huge amounts of money to a particular organization. This common misconception may discourage an average income earner to participate in any philanthropic activities.

However, an affluent status is never a requirement for one to give and share. Philanthropy is derived from the Greek word, philanthropos meaning love for mankind so anyone who is genuinely willing to offer assistance to the needy fits into the category. You do not have to spend a fortune to carve your path on philanthropy. It is even possible not to spend a single penny at all. As a bonus, you will realize that every philanthropic act you do offers instant rewards. The saying, “you give and receive more” is true indeed! Check out some suggestions below:

Share Your Talents & Skills

Everybody has a skill or talent to share. If you love teaching, you can volunteer as a tutor at local schools. Those who excel in arts can conduct a class in nursing centers or homeless shelters. Professionals such as doctors and engineers can choose a cause or organization where they can offer their services for free. Just contact various communities near you to discover how you can make a valuable contribution.

Benefits: If you love what you do, this act will barely feel like work. It is also a productive way to hone your skills and practice your craft.

Give Away Stuff You Do Not Use

Roam around your house or clean your closet and you will likely discover tons of things that are still in good shape yet you do not use or need. It can be old books, toys, or clothes. Instead of tossing them in the trash, think of new places where your stuff can serve a better purpose. Donating is surely a better alternative instead of letting unnecessary items gather dust in your abode.

Benefits: You will probably breathe a sigh of relief at the sight of a clutter-free home. A tidy environment can clear your mind and increase your productivity too.

Literally, Give A Part Of You

As long as you are breathing, you have something to give. If you meet the physical and age requirements, you may want to consider donating blood to help patients in need of blood transfusions. Meanwhile, breastfeeding mothers can share their extra milk to newborn babies in neonatal care units. Mothers who are lucky enough to have a generous supply of breast milk will be heaven-sent for other moms with low to no milk supply. Other body parts you can share include hair, stem cells, umbilical cords, and bone marrow. You may also consider signing up to be an organ donor in case of untoward incidents.

Benefits: How cool would it feel to think that you have been a lifesaver? Moreover, donating blood and giving breast milk improves your overall health.

The list above can go on and on. Philanthropy is a great avenue to display your resourcefulness and creativity so it is possible to come up with more ways to help. You will be surprised at how much you can do without even opening your wallet. Remember that most of the best things you can give such as time and energy cost nothing at all. So keep on spreading love and do not allow lack of money to dampen your altruistic nature.

Brad and Julie DuncanPhilanthropy Is Possible Without Spending A Penny
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5 Considerations For Choosing A Reputable Volunteer Organization

Departing from your hometown to embark on a volunteer journey in a foreign country can be an exhilarating, yet daunting experience. Extensive planning should go into any volunteer opportunity to ensure that it is precisely what you want and a purpose you are capable of wholeheartedly committing to. Keep these five points in mind while planning your philanthropic endeavor.

Time Commitment
Be mindful of the length of time that you are able and willing to contribute to a cause. Inquire about the volunteer service schedule to be aware of the dates of the trip. International organizations recommend an average of 3-4 weeks to account for travel and adjustments upon arrival for substantial missions. If your schedule restricts you to a few days or a week, search locally for volunteer positions. Remaining local doesn’t take away from your selflessness.

Value of Causes
Evaluate what service causes are significant to you. Consider these questions:

    • What can you contribute to the program?
    • What do you hope to gain from your involvement?
  • How do you hope to impact the target community?

If the daily tasks and organizational purpose are not what you emotionally relate to, there’s a chance your motivational drive will take a negative shift. You should have a level of passion towards the cause to help you push through the busy days and discomfort of culture change.

Local Community Involvement
The reputability of a volunteer effort does not lie solely in the perception of its volunteer participants. An important indicator of the social respectability of a volunteer group is reflected in the community involvement. If members of the community come forward and want to be an active contributors to the change effort, you’ve got the green light. But venture away from organizations that want to make a difference that doesn’t make a difference to the inhabitants of the area. Practice sustainable voluntourism. Indulge on the chance to be an expat, but the services should provide first hand experiences and benefits for the permanent residents.

Thorough Preparation Materials
A reliable volunteer organization does not shy away from the details. Continue in your application process if the recruitment board willingly supplies ample amounts of information on what the position requires. This includes, but is not limited to, characteristics of the host community where you’ll be residing and assisting, the overall goals of the service trip, and itineraries of the daily tasks you’ll be expected to accomplish. At this time you should be notified of all components that are required for travel as well, such as documentations and vaccinations.

Testimonials
Actively look for reviews from prior participants. Seek comments about the financial allocations, guidance of directors, and involvement of the community. A majority of volunteer groups require you to financially support yourself during travel as company funds are utilized to purchase project supplies. Validate that the past trips have addressed issues that matter to the community and that directors behave in ethical, respectful manners.

Don’t fear being too harsh in your validation of a cause. Tried and true philanthropic organizations are prepared for a wide range of questions and concerns. You should be confident in your choice and contribution.

If you’re branching out on your first philanthropist trip, check out tips that we have for new philanthropists.

Brad and Julie Duncan5 Considerations For Choosing A Reputable Volunteer Organization
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