By Diane Rubino.
The window to reflect, soothe battered egos, and yes, wallow in despair, is closing. The era of moving into high gear is here. Preserving progressive masculine ideals means morphing “Not In My Backyard” into “Needed In My Backyard.” You need to act ensure the next few four years are not lost in a sea of gender weirdness.
Fortunately, many national databases make finding suitable action options a snap, regardless of your commitment-phobeness. Work from home? No problem, choose the “virtual engagement” options. Looking for “one and done?” Sure. Some sites emphasize a single day’s service or easily allow searchers to identify such options. Need big-shot resume builders and bragging rights? Okay. Use an advanced search function in this list to find management and board of director gigs.
Here’s a biased tour of possibilities to get you percolating:
- Volunteer Match has the most nuanced “cause” categories, allowing you to hone in on areas like: “Justice and legal” and “Race and ethnicity.”
- All for Good allows users to use a detailed skill list ranging from “account management” to “youth court knowledge,” for easy focus on the knowledge areas you’d like to draw on. It also contains a prominent link to the cheery sounding “Verified Volunteers,” for organizations requiring a criminal background check. Some agencies foot the $45 cost. But working with an “administrative court” mean paying the initial fee and subsequent access charges when courts check you out. While other databases claim to be “Powered by All for Good,” each yields distinct results.
- Create the Good has a database and DIY kits. Mavericks or those living farther afield might appreciate CTG’s helpful project guides to create your own luck without re-inventing fire.
- The US government spreads its wealth across a few sites with different themes. But act now, because it’s hard to say how well the sites will be maintained under the next regime. Corporation for National and Community Service allows you to easily ferret out single-shot volunteer days—like MLK and Earth Day—to step up. Joining Forces is interesting from a veteran affairs perspective and provides helpful links. But it does not offer its own database. If you’re looking for a quick action hit, send a thank you note to the troops. The National Park Service has outdoor opportunities. Some are rated “strenuous” if you’re looking to lose holiday pounds. The database has information about housing opportunities so you can stay a while.
- You might know ‘em for job postings, but Idealist theoretically has a volunteer search. Somehow, though, their database produced 0 results in my community. The commitment-averse can use the “take action” option for a one-time deal like here. On this page, plugging in my zip code yielded a Burkinabe web-building project and a modest request for goods.
- United Way identified the most local opportunities near my home. Seekers can sort by skill, activity, and organizational focus. I could, for example, combine skills like “construction” or “call center” with activities like “caring for people” or “gardening.”
- Looking to connect with the next generation? The National Mentoring Partnership has a nifty database allowing searchers to, among other things, select age group preferences as well as a heart-warming video featuring President Obama discussing the My Brother’s Keeper initiative.
- A few large (and presumably small) cities maintain their location-specific options. The front-end interface looks the same for NYC and DC, allowing volunteers to combine multiple interest areas or skillsets simultaneously. LA’s site marches to a different drummer. Caring nonprofits also offer regional opportunities, like Boston, Chicago, and New York.
Sure, doing good helps others. But there’s no judgment for folks with an “enlightened self-interest” perspective. Supporting nonprofits is an effective remedy for getting out of your own head and for meeting like-minded people. If you’re so inclined, these activities offer image enhancement opportunities. Most will be rightfully impressed if you drop “I’m a Big Brother.” Or “I volunteered during the last hurricane.” Frankly, there really is no alternative for doing nothing over the next four years. So get going.
In his farewell address, President Obama said this: “Our democracy needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life. If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Stay at it.”
Diane Rubino is an activist, New York University instructor, and applied communications professional who seeks to make the world more healthy and humane. Learn More.