“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give”. Kahlil Gibran
Whether you retired at 65, 75, or 50, charitable opportunities open up exponentially. Because time is now not an issue. A life of hard work mandates lounging and vacationing upon retirement, but that ends and new retirees are eventually faced with boredom. Volunteering beckons as a welcome medium between the slavish demands of your working days and the sedentary sameness of retirement.
The dual demands of a life raising a family as well as providing for that family leave little time for volunteering. Really, because of this time crunch, the best avenue for accessing volunteering opportunities is through work. Charities.org conducted a study that revealed 82% of businesses say that they’re employees would like to volunteer with their work colleagues through an employer sponsored volunteer program. Yet only 21% of businesses offer paid time off for volunteering according to OneOC, a nonprofit consultancy. Meanwhile, 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching donation programs.
So it’s clear that giving is more accessible than volunteering. And that’s a shame, because according to UnitedHealthcare (UnitedHealth Group 2017 Doing Good is Good for You Study), volunteering yields significant physical, mental, and emotional benefits. 75% of Americans over 18 feel physically healthier, which they attribute to volunteering. More impactfully, 93% report a better mood, 79% feel less stress, and 88% have more self-esteem when donating their time. And now that you have more time, consider volunteering as a way to spend it.
As you contemplate what to do, be mindful that volunteering is not going to be like the career from which you just retired. Non-profits are a wholly different animal from for-profits. While you may not have been blown away by your department’s funding in the past, it was likely far higher than the shoe-string budget that most non-profits deal with. Staffs are comprised of people from varied backgrounds with different skill sets, so there will always be holes to fill. And doing so won’t necessarily be your call, so if you’re used to driving the car, you may need to be willing to take a back seat and let someone else learn to drive while you learn the road. All this is a long way of saying to carefully set your expectations; volunteering is likely different from your previous experiences, so give it some time.
And that’s a good thing. Because some people want to use their retirement to learn new things, meet new people, and grow new skill sets. While they may initially feel out of place, these volunteers thrill at the draw of the unknown and eventually grow comfortable. If initial comfort is what you crave, then try volunteering where you know you can make an immediate impact. If you’re a lawyer, provide pro bono services. If you’re a teacher, provide education services. Avoid burn out (after all, you did just retire from doing what you’re best at) by being selective with your work and limiting your hours.
Volunteering is good for the soul. Thomas Jefferson said it best – “I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another”. SmartRE can help. Our service liquidates the cash frozen in your home equity – without debt, without interest, and without vacating your home. You can use that cash to help fund your retirement, and volunteer to your soul’s content without worrying about paying your bills. To learn more, go to our Volunteering section to see more articles, like “Ready to Volunteer – Here Are Some Great Ideas”.