"Don’t hold the baby: When someone has a new baby, lots of people offer to help, but what they really want is to hold the adorable baby. Sure, they might bring a casserole, but it takes a really good friend to rake the leaves, walk the dog, clean the fridge, take out the trash or scrub and return the previous visitors’ casserole dishes piling up in the sink while someone else gets to coo at the kid. It’s the same thing with volunteering, particularly around the holiday season when people who may not normally volunteer step up. Most people envision themselves riding around in an organization’s van delivering warm meals or warm coats to the homeless, but fewer people want to volunteer to take the van for its annual inspection.

If you really want to help an organization this season, let them know that you don’t need to hold the baby, and you’ll be surprised at how they embrace your help. At our school in Kenya, we get hundreds of requests for folks looking to work directly with the children, but with a team of 30-plus professionals already doing that, what we really need help with is much less exciting: airport drop-offs, inventory data management, fundraising. Making an impact doesn’t always mean seeing that impact — the reality is it can be quiet and boring and incredibly helpful. These days you can even volunteer virtual help to assist a small organization with things like social media or - one of my favorites - you can volunteer to be there for young people in crisis through the Crisis Text Line. ..."


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