This post brought to you by Create the Good. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Living Between the Lines.
As much as it doesn’t feel like it most of the time, as college students, we have more free time than just about any other demographic. And between classes, labs, clubs, and our social lives, sometimes we just want to give something back.
The On-Campus Guide to Volunteering
In a perfect world, volunteering would be super-easy, but it can sometime get complicated. So I’ve broken it down into three simple steps – choosing a cause, finding opportunities, and securing funding.
Choosing a Cause
This can be the most daunting part of starting to volunteer, so bear with me while I try to make it easy. First thing you need to (surprise!) make a list. Write down all the causes you’re passionate about, and don’t worry about being too focused. If you love education reform, animal welfare, water rights, and better care for senior citizens, it’s fine that those don’t connect – just get them on paper.
Got your list? Fantastic. Now put it aside, and take five. Go for a walk, drink some water, talk to a friend, whatever it takes to clear your mind before you start on a second list.
This is a list of things you like to do. Try not to think about your previous list, just write down stuff you want to do more of. Singing, being outdoors, public speaking, graphic design, whatever makes you tick goes right on the list.
Now draw some connections. Do you love to sing and want to help care for senior citizens? Organize a caroling trip to an assisted care facility. Animal-lover who dabbles in photography? Offer to take better pictures for a local shelter’s website. It’s going to be so much easier to actually stay involved if you marry causes you care about with things you love to do.
If you recall, I managed to marry my love of public speaking and my passion for empowering others to be politically informed with The Collegiate Congressional Debate Association, or the CCDA. I’ve been working with them for close to a year now, and our current long-term project is an invitational tournament for high schoolers, where they can get more comfortable with public speaking, rhetoric, and their own opinions on current political issues.
I wouldn’t be able to help with this sort of experience anywhere but a college campus, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to get involved!
Where to Volunteer
Campuses are, traditionally, a hotbed of volunteering and activism, so there’s definitely some community service happening on your campus. Now you just have to figure out how to get involved.
A great place to start would be your school’s registered student organizations. Every university I’ve ever heard of has a searchable database of clubs, so see if they have one dedicated to the service opportunity you’re interested in! If not, chances are there’s a general service-based organization that can help you get started. Don’t be afraid to blaze your own trail – I can’t imagine a cause that wouldn’t accept a dedicated volunteer, especially one with a plan, like the one you developed with your lists.
If your school is a bust, you could always check out local opportunities through Create the Good, and see if there are any causes you’re interested in seeking volunteers in your area!
While it might seem like everyone and their dog is broke, there are actually plenty of ways to raise money for the causes you care about.
Fundraising is pretty common on campus – in the warmer months, there’s almost always someone on my university’s quad, selling baked goods or hot coffee or crafts for their cause of choice. Restaurants in the area will sometimes agree to donate a cut of daily profits to organizations that ask. And, surprisingly, there are a huge number of charitable grants that go unclaimed for lack of applicants. Keep an eye on department newsletters for chances, and don’t be afraid to apply!
Or, you could win $2,500 for your cause in just a few minutes.
If you’ve got a video camera (or smartphone, or webcam) and a dream, you could win $2,500 to get there. The Create the Good Dream Builder Video Contest runs until Feb. 7th, 2016 and if you enter a video, you can compete for community votes to win a grand prize of $2,500, or three runner-up prizes of $500, paid to the charity of your choice.
To enter, all you need is a video. You can talk about your volunteering dreams, your current volunteer efforts, or the people and organizations who inspire you – and get creative! An eye-catching video will help you earn those precious community votes. All you have to do is lay out a plan and specify which organization you’d be working with if you won. It’s really that easy!
This is an unspeakably amazing chance to get some funds for a cause you care about, and even if you don’t have a dream to make a video about just yet, don’t forget to keep up with the Create the Good Dream Builder Video Contest and cast your votes for the most deserving causes, and keep up on the Create the Good Facebook page.