Seven volunteering options for the time poor

Here’s how to make a real difference as a volunteer without scrambling your schedule.

If you have professional and personal commitments to juggle, finding time to volunteer can be tricky. But carving out space in your diary for volunteering is worth it, according to research.

As well as enjoying physical and mental health benefits, including the alleviation of depression, people who volunteer actually feel less rushed than those who don’t. Experts say that’s because volunteers feel more capable and confident, which changes the way they perceive time.

You don’t need to devote every spare hour to volunteering, either: researchers say even a modest contribution can make you feel more ‘time affluent’.

Keen to give it a go? There’s no shortage of local organisations that are happy to sign up volunteers for one weekly shift or less. Here are seven ideas.

Use your existing skills to change lives

Have you ever wished your job had ‘more meaning’? Well, even if you’re not saving lives, you can use your office skills to change lives by volunteering with a charity such as Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT. Wheelchair Sports welcomes volunteers with skills such as marketing, IT/database, research, design and analysis to lend their expertise to the organisation, which provides sport-participation opportunities for people living with disabilities. You can also assist at sporting events such as:

  • Wheelchair Aussie Rules
  • Wheelchair Tennis
  • Frame Running
  • Disability Lawn Bowls, and
  • Para-Powerlifting.

Credit: Karen Watson

Support those with learning disabilities

You don’t need training or lots of free time to support people with learning disabilities: in fact, many organisations in this sector are under-resourced and are keen for any help you can offer. Check out the listings at Seek Volunteer and Go Volunteer for disability-services opportunities of all shapes and sizes. One great example is Gig Buddies; as a volunteer, you’ll accompany your buddy to one live-music event per month, providing both friendship and practical assistance. Volunteers and beneficiaries are carefully matched up based on factors such as musical tastes, geographical location and age.

Care for the elderly

While many jobs in the aged-care sector require a qualification or specialised training, volunteers play their part too, particularly with administration. If you’re keen to make a difference, consider contacting one of the not-for-profit operations in this space, such as HammondCare Darlinghurst, which offers comprehensive support to older people with complex care needs who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness.

Keep young adults safe

Are your daytimes too busy for volunteering? Then an after-dark charity could fit the bill. Several NSW organisations focus on improving safety in our nightlife precincts, including Stay Kind, which provides somewhere for young people to rest their feet, get rehydrated, charge their phones, get first aid, find transport home or wait for friends. Stay Kind operates two ‘Take Kare Safe Spaces’ in inner-city Sydney on Friday and Saturday nights and also has a team of roving Ambassadors.

Prepare food and provide hope

Homeless shelters and youth services often need extra pairs of hands at mealtimes, not only to prepare food but also to serve it. NSW Meals on Wheels relies on volunteers, too – including those who can only commit to one shift per week. The organisation, which has been delivering food to elderly people and those with limited mobility for over 60 years, is about much more than meals: its volunteers also provide companionship and conversation for members of our community who may not have anyone else.

Ensure your charity is covered

If you’re involved with a charity, it might be good to brush up on your insurance options. While volunteers aren’t necessarily classed as employees, and so may not be covered by Workers Compensation Insurance, Public and Products Liability Insurance is available for eligible not-for-profit organisations.

Learn about Not For Profit Insurance

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Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. Target Market Determination is also available.

This article has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.

The information is intended to be of a general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it - please make your own enquiries.