Volunteering: When You Have More to Give Than Money

Charitable giving can be highly rewarding, but volunteering your time, expertise or connections is another way to make a philanthropic impact—and one that might make the most of your unique abilities. Here are some great ways to volunteer and tips for finding areas of need within your community.

1. Time

Donating time is likely the most common and accessible form of volunteering. This is a broad category that encompasses any organization or activity where simply being present and completing assigned tasks is the main goal. Examples of this type of volunteering might be working at a local food pantry, going to an assisted living facility to spend the afternoon with its residents or helping with a community production of a play. Donating your time is a quick way to start volunteering because it requires minimal training and is widely needed across causes.

2. Expertise

Volunteering your expertise is another great way to help, but in a more specialized way. This could include pro bono work for underserved or at-risk communities or being a mentor to someone in your field. While slightly more difficult to find depending on your area of expertise, this type of volunteering can profoundly impact others in a very targeted way, often in a one-on-one setting.

3. Labor

Similar to time, manual labor is a common form of volunteering as it does not usually require a high degree of training. Examples of this could be working with Habitat for Humanity to build houses or even cleaning up your local park. For those who love to travel, volunteering internationally can be a great way to merge your passions. You may be able to find projects abroad that focus on developing homes, schools, places of worship, agriculture, infrastructure or entrepreneurialism.  

4. Campaigning and Awareness

Getting the word out about specific causes is another important facet of volunteering. There are both structured and unstructured ways to do this. A more structured, time-intensive approach would be helping to organize a charitable event or fundraiser. A less structured approach would involve using your personal network and voice on social media to raise awareness and direct others to the causes you support.

One hurdle that many people encounter is finding needs within their communities and opportunities to volunteer. If you already have specific organizations you like to support, getting on their volunteer list can be as simple as calling and expressing your interest, perhaps completing some training and setting your schedule.

If you are less sure about how you want to volunteer or don’t have a specific organization in mind, an internet search for “volunteering near me” should return a list of potential ideas and resources. In many areas around the country, you’ll even find websites that let you search for volunteer openings based on your skills and fields of interest.

Volunteering is just one way you and your family can positively impact your local community and the world around you. The opportunities to volunteer are broad, with a fit for every age, skill set, ability and schedule. Today’s technology makes connecting with organizations needing help easier than ever.

Whether you are a seasoned pro at volunteering or looking to try it out for the first time, we think most people would agree that once you have the experience and see the impact you can have on others, you will be excited to volunteer again and again!


Breanna Coffey, MBA, CFP

Breanna Coffey, MBA, CFP

Wealth Advisor

Breanna is a Wealth Advisor in our Itasca, IL, office. She is passionate about helping clients feel confident in their financial future and specializes in philanthropic giving by working with clients to craft strategic plans to make their giving more impactful. She earned her undergraduate degree from Purdue University, her MBA from the University of Indianapolis and her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification at Northwestern University. Breanna was also recognized in the InvestmentNews 40 under 40 list in 2022.


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