Character, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual.” It’s often composed of having the right values, doing the right thing, and being the right kind of person. Suffice to say, character plays a significant role in our success in life. The reason? It helps us develop personality traits like honesty, trust, courage, patience, and leadership.
While some believe that character is something that you’re born with, others argue that it can be changed and grown through some work. For example, you can develop your character by continuing to learn, improving soft skills, meeting new people, and spreading kindness.
If you’ve ever helped someone else, then you may see a link between volunteering and developing character. After all, giving back allows you to build important character traits like wisdom, confidence, and courage. It gives you a chance to strengthen your empathy, spread justice, improve your temperance, and encourage you to transcend.
The benefits of volunteering.
In addition to developing character, there are other perks of helping others. It’s been scientifically proven that volunteering is good for your mind and body as it counters the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also lower high blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and lessen the symptom of chronic pain.
Moreover, helping others gives you a sense of purpose and satisfaction. It opens up new opportunities to network and honing your skills — or trying out new ones.
But, hold on, there’s more. Giving back also comes with organizational benefits. It’s perfect for building stronger bonds among teams, gives your team a sense of achievement as a group. can be used as a learning event, and improve employee attraction and retention. Volunteering also has the power to boost morale, engagement, demonstrate your company’s values. And, if that’s not enough to sway you, it’s also beneficial for your bottom line
With all that being said, the point I’m getting at is that volunteering is one of the best things that you can do individually and as a part of a team. And, because of this, it’s time that you explore the best service opportunities for your team if you want to reap the benefits of volunteering, such as building character.
Getting Started With Team-Based Volunteering
For your team service to have an impact within your organization and others, you first need to take the following 8 steps. These have been developed by MovingWorlds, who have over 50 years of collective experience designing volunteer programs for individuals, companies, nonprofits.
Define your intentions.
Why do you want to volunteer? Is it altruistic or is there another reason? It’s alright to have another motive, like using volunteerism as a team-building activity. Discuss this with your team so that you can identify the purpose of giving back.
Audit your team’s strengths and weaknesses.
Evaluate the skills that you and your team possess. What industries are you familiar with? And, what knowledge or resources can you use to make the world better?
Document your learning and impact goals.
You don’t have to create a formal document. But, you should write down your goals so that you can refer to them as needed. To get you started, Mark Horoszowski, co-founder and CEO of MovingWorlds.org, suggests writing down goal-related statements like:
- What can I learn about the organization and the industry I’m volunteering in?
- What can I learn about communication and collaboration by working in a new setting?
- Do I have any personal development areas that I can put into practice while volunteering?
- What would indicate that we’re actually making an impact?
Pick a cause and find a partner.
Solicit ideas from your team on how you want to give back. Use your team’s strengths, interests, and passions to narrow down a cause. For example, if you’re all skilled coders who believe that this is a talent children need to learn, then you could work with a non-profit like Code.org, Mined Minds, or Girls Who Code.
You can do this during a brainstorming session or adding to an agenda of an upcoming meeting. Another way would be sending out an employee survey, poll, or questionnaire. Or, you could also work with placement partners like MovingWorlds, VolunteerMatch, or United We Serve who can connect your company with a non-profit.
Consider opportunities and threats.
Despite your best intentions, sometimes giving can have a negative impact. For example, if you’re not a doctor or teacher, then why volunteer to go to places in the world that are in need of these professions? Also, don’t get frustrated by the positive changes you are making aren’t always the most exciting, such as doing administrative work or coaching.
Develop a sustainability plan.
All good things must come to an end, like your team’s service opportunity. Come up with a plan on how you’re going to end the project. And, have a process for how others can seamlessly continue doing the work you’ve done.
Find support and sponsors.
Besides getting your team on board, find out if anyone within your network would also like to join. You should also look for other businesses to join in as well. Maybe you could get several local businesses to support various teams in a baseball little league.
Document and publicize your work.
Documenting your experience can “increase exposure of the organization and mission you worked on,” writes Horoszowski. It can also encourage you to reflect, learn, and inspire others to follow you and your organization’s lead.
Team Service Ideas
Now that we have that out of the way, here are 62 team service opportunities that you should pursue.
- Plan an item drive, such as canned food, coat, book, or toy drive.
- Cleanup up an outdoor area like a park or beach.
- Donate or raise money for a nonprofit like the Red Cross.
- Host a fundraiser for a local nonprofit.
- Assemble care packages for nurses, first responders, or the military.
- Plan a charity team building activity, such as “Pay it Forward.”
- Participate in a charity race.
- Mentor students or underserved communities.
- Do pro bono work, such as the Accessibility Internet Rally in Austin, TX.
- Help community members register to vote.
- Volunteer as staff at an event, like a 5K or festival.
- Offer to promote a cause or nonprofit event.
Helping Children and Schools
- Coach or sponsor a youth sports team.
- Tutor students.
- Donate presents to a children’s hospital.
- Perform at a children’s hospital.
- Pack back bags filled with essential school supplies for teachers at an underserved school in your community.
- Babysit so that parents can attend a PTA meeting or have a night out.
- Donate used books to a school library.
- Collect baby and children’s clothing so they can be donated to those in need.
- Volunteers at a camp or afterschool program.
- Sponsor a child in a foreign country.
Assisting Senior Citizens and Veterans
- Pick-up groceries or medicine for elderly family or community members.
- Visit nursing homes and spend quality time with the residents.
- Host a bingo night for senior citizens.
- Drive those who can not get to their doctor’s appointments.
- Make birthday, holiday, and thank cards.
- Host a holiday meal for seniors or veterans.
- Plan a Memorial or Veterans Day parade.
- Mow lawns, rake leaves, and shovel snow.
- Teach the elderly how to use technology, like computers and smartphones.
- Raise money for organizations like Wounded Warriors, or Charity Water.
Helping Animals and the Environment
- Volunteer or donate food and cleaning supplies to local animal shelters, or women and men’s shelters.
- Train service dogs or foster animals until they find a home.
- Organize a spay and neuter program.
- Take your pet to a retirement home or hospital.
- Sponsor a recycling program.
- Build a community garden or clean-up an existing one.
- Participate or organize the cleanup of a body of water, park, or along roads.
- Offer to watch your friends, family, or neighbors pet when they’re on vacation.
- Adopt-a-highway or sponsor an acre of rainforest or wetlands.
- Organize an office carpool or permit more work-from-home opportunities.
Improving Your Community
- Help the homeless and hungry in your community, such as donating food and clothing.
- Build a house with Habit With Humanity.
- Volunteer at food banks, homeless shelters, firehouses, or schools.
- Start or join a community watch.
- Become CPR certified.
- Paint over graffiti and repaint benches.
- Become a local tour guide.
- Create or sponsor a piece of pubic art, playground equipment
- Clean up after a natural disaster.
- Participate in and promote a community event.
In-house and Virtual Ideas
- Celebrate as a team, like having a pizza party after accomplishing a major milestone
- Create professional and personal development programs so your team can learn and grow together.
- Establish a mentorship program.
- Offer childcare for the parents on your team.
- Raise money for an ailing or struggling team member.
- Pick up the slack for a colleague who is ill.
- Set up an Angel Tree during the holidays.
- Assemble kits during work hours, such as hygiene kits, that can be distributed.
- Host an event for your team, like a family-friendly picnic or team building activity.
- Encourage your team to volunteer virtually if they can’t do so in-person. You can find virtual volunteering opportunities on VolunteerMatch, Serve.gov, or AllForGood.