One of the great things about our work is that we come into contact with so many people who care deeply about their communities and want to help. For National Volunteer Week, we thought we’d put together a few suggestions for how to help in a very on-the-ground way.
New Hampshire nonprofits rely on volunteers to do everything from mentoring kids to driving meals-on-wheels to planting trees to leading tours of historic sites and serving as interim executives. According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, people in New Hampshire contributed 37.33 million hours of volunteer service in 2015, and almost 30 percent of all New Hampshire residents volunteer. Volunteering is also a great way to get to know people – especially if you are new to a community.
So, got a skill and some time that you would like to offer? We know there is a New Hampshire nonprofit that will be grateful.
Here are some ways to get going:
1. Think about the causes your care about. Do a little research about the nonprofits in your community that are working in that space. (New Hampshire has scores of nonprofits. You’ll find something. Trust us.) Many nonprofits list volunteer opportunities on their websites.
2. Check out the listings on Volunteer New Hampshire. There are hundreds of listings of volunteer opportunities, sortable by region, agency, interest area and more.
3. Interested specifically in environmental work? The Stewardship Network New England mobilizes volunteers for “on-the-ground stewardship and citizen science work,” like planting shrubs for cottontail habitat, water quality monitoring, trail work, sand dune restoration, easement monitoring and more. You can join the network and get a weekly listing of volunteer opportunities in and near New Hampshire.
4. Join a board of directors. Nonprofits all need talented, committed board members to help them run smoothly. Think about the skills and talents you have to offer and where your interests lie. Contact organizations directly or feel free to call us for ideas. The New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits’ Hoffman-Haas Fellowship helps people bring board participation to a new level and build leadership expertise. And Volunteer New Hampshire includes some listings for board members.
5. Start (or join) a service club in your community. Social media is a great way to organize – invite friends to join a Facebook group (and ask them to invite their friends) and then work on things together to meet community needs (park and trail cleanup, firewood banks, food drives for the food pantry). Build a culture of volunteering right in your town!
6. Consider running for an elected volunteer position. From selectmen and school board members to library trustees to conservation commissioners, volunteers help make New Hampshire towns and cities run.
7. Involve the family. Opportunities abound to roll up your sleeves, and teach your kids how to roll up theirs, and pass on a legacy of community connectedness and caring.
Simon Delekta can be reached at 800-464-6641, ext. 297 or firstname.lastname@example.org.