2011 is the European Year of Volunteering (EYV).
This week in Leeds, Arts & Business held a very successful ‘matchmaking’ event that linked arts organisations seeking volunteers, with people who had skills and time to offer. (The London event is on the 17th so there’s still time to sign up if you’re quick).
With many charities and community or funded organisations struggling in the current climate to continue their valuable work, there has never been a better time to offer some help and volunteer your time or your services.
I have been volunteering for a number of years now. As well as offering website development, web hosting and digital marketing support to a number of Leeds community organisations, I have been actively involved as a committee member and fundraiser too:
- Leeds Jewish Community Pride is an annual event that celebrates the outstanding contributions made by individual members of the community. I have been a committee member on Leeds Jewish Community Pride for three years, and run the website and voting system for them. Through dedicated fundraising efforts, we have raised around £12k each year. This year’s pride awards takes place in November. Voting is still open so if you want to vote for people to win, now is the time.
- Community Firewalk (the hot route to fundraising!) raises money for eight Leeds community charities. It’s a fantastic event – people literally do walk across hot coals for good causes! I happily donated the website for these brave fire-walkers. The event takes place this year close to bonfire night on 30st October in North Leeds.
- Dancing Strictly is another annual event that I have built the website for. It is similar to BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, but takes place in Leeds in the Spring, and raises money for various Leeds charities. It’s great fun and there’s still time to get involved next year if you fancy it.
- Brodetsky Primary School is a local Leeds school at which I was a school governor for three years. I donated this website for them as a portal for raising money. It was a pleasure and an honour to be part of such a great team, helping shape young people’s education and development.
Have You Thought About Volunteering?
If you’re still wondering whether or not volunteering is for you, let me help you decide.
I love volunteering and working with charities and have met some fantastic people along the way. Not only is volunteering incredibly rewarding on both a personal and professional level, it connects you with a whole network of people you wouldn’t normally meet. Shared ideas become new projects, and the mutual respect and honesty in relationships you build through volunteering have longevity far beyond the memory of any monetary transaction.
Whatever your skills and experience, there are opportunities available. Below are some volunteering resources and sources of information that may be useful.
- Volunteering England is the national volunteering organisation, which offers support and resources for volunteers.
- To find out what volunteering opportunities are available in your area, the postcode search on Do It, “volunteering made easy”, is a great resource.
- And click here for more information about how the 2011 European Year of Volunteering is being supported nationally.
Sharing Online, Sharing Offline
When I think about the possibilities of sharing (and being an internet geek myself), I am reminded of a very powerful BBC documentary I saw recently: How Facebook Changed the World (great blog about the first programme here).
While we may not all change the world by sharing our time and our knowledge, we can all make positive contributions that will change the lives of others in our local community.
In a fast paced world where everyone is busy and business service costs are often prohibitive for charities and community organisations, our time and our knowledge are two of the most powerful gifts we can give.