Holiday Giving and Volunteering Guide
Volunteering and giving during the Holidays are a great way to celebrate. Keep in mind though, that the number of people wanting to volunteer surges at this time of year. Often, non-profits have a hard time accommodating the surge of willing volunteers, which is frustrating for the volunteers and non-profits. Check out our below tips to help navigate the process! Available opportunities are towards the end of the page.
Tips for Volunteering during the Holidays:
· Start Early! Start building a relationship with a nonprofit before the holidays by volunteering your time through out the year. Long-term volunteers tend to get first notification of opportunities during the Holidays.
· Think about how much time you can realistically commit. Holidays are a busy time for everyone, realistically look at all of your commitments and to-dos before committing to an opportunity. Don't try to cram in a couple of hours after long family event or commit to an all day event when you know you have a lot to get done in one day.
· Try something new and be flexible! Your ideal opportunity may not be what is available. Try stepping outside the box and do something you have never done before.
· Donate! If you do not have the time or can not find an opportunity that suits you, put that positive energy into donating tangible items or money. See below for tips on donating during the holiday season.
· Include your family. The Holidays are a great time to educate children about a number of societal problems such as food insecurity and poverty. Start a tradition of volunteering during the Holidays and continue it through the year.
· Create your own opportunity. When opportunities are hard to find, do not get discouraged. There are several crafty ideas that you can do from the comfort of your own home such as writing cards for troops, coordinating a food drive at work or in your neighborhood or making holiday decorations for the local hospital or nursing home.
· Have Fun! Stay positive and enjoy your experience.
· Be the Gift that keeps on giving. Just as holidays bring a surge in willing volunteers, post holidays brings a dramatic drop. Nonprofits need volunteers year round. So consider extending your giving spirit beyond the holidays and make a sustained commitment to volunteering.
***compiled with help from the Hands On Network, visit them at http://www.handsonnetwork.org/.
Tips for Donating during the Holidays:
· Find your match: The Internet has made it possible to research, access and donate to more charities than ever, so take advantage of the choices and find causes closest to your heart. We recommend checking out Network for Good (www.networkforgood.org), an internet tool that brings together donors with a large network of nonprofits who need funds. It has an extremely easy to use search engine.
· Know where your money is going: Make sure the organization you want to support is in good standing by looking at an organization's financials and ratings and understand how your gift will be used.
· Stretch your dollar: Check to see if your employer has a matching gift program. It can make your holiday donations go further.
· Give your time: One of the most rewarding things you can do is donate your time and skills to a beloved cause and feel the satisfaction of making a difference first hand. See above for our tips on volunteering during the holidays.
· Think out of the (gift) box: If you're out of gift ideas, consider making donations to charity in honor of the people on your holiday list. It's a great way to express the holiday spirit and show you - and they - care for those less fortunate. Many non-profits will send ecards to loved ones letting them know that you have made a gift in their honor. Wise and GREEN!
· Check for security and privacy: You should always confirm that the charity you are accessing online uses appropriate security measures and is not sharing your personal information others without your permission.
· Hang onto your receipts: For gifts less than $250, a cancelled check or credit card statement is sufficient for IRS requirements. For larger gifts, you will need a itemized receipt from the organization as proof of your donation.
· Know what and how much of your gift is actually tax deductable. If you receive a premium in exchange for your gift (such as a book or dinner), the amount of your tax deduction is reduced by the fair market value of the premium. Usually, you can turn down the incentive item if you wish to claim a deduction for the full amount of your gift. Ask the receiving organization for more details.
***compiled with help from the Network for Good, visit them at www.networkforgood.org
Where to Find Holiday Volunteer Opportunities:
· There are several opportunities to donate to various charities at ODU. Check out hosted drives in the donation bins in Webb Center, get an Angel from the Angel Tree (sponsored by Golden Key) located by the Credit Union in Webb Center (deadline, Dec 7), grab a Stocking to Stuff from the Center for Service & Civic Engagement (deadline, Dec 6), donate a new or gently used coat to the English Language Center's Coat Drive (deadline, Dec 9), or donate items to the YWCA via the Holiday Drive in the Women's Center (deadline, Dec 16).
· Give blood at the American Red Cross Blood Drive on Dec 7th in the Hampton/Newport News room of Webb Center. Click here for more details.
· Run, Walk, Volunteer or Fundraise for the Arthritis Foundation's Jingle Bell Run/Walk on Kaufman Mall on December 3rd. Click here for more details.
Off -Campus local and at home:
· Organizations like the Salvation Army, the Union Mission and the FoodBank typically have a large number of opportunities during the Holidays (click on their names to be directed to the Norfolk/local affiliates). But think outside the box and check out opportunities at organizations like Habitat for Humanity, as well.
· Search Opportunities at www.volunteerhr.org for opportunities in the Hampton Roads area or www.volunteermatch.org for opportunities nationwide.