How to volunteer when you have no time

How to volunteer when you have no time


Do you want to volunteer, but can never find the time to do it? Once you’ve dealt with work, school, family, friends, etc. (you know, life), it can be hard to find the time to get involved yourself.

In this post, I offer some ideas for how to fit meaningful volunteer work around a busy schedule.

Online, remote and micro-volunteering

First up, how about trying online, remote or micro-volunteering? Volunteering online still involves a time commitment, but you can manage your time more effectively and get things done at times that suit you. Some good options for this type of volunteering:

  • Be Me Eyes, an app that connects blind and low vision people with sighted volunteers for visual assistance through a live video call.
  • United Nations Volunteers program, which has a database of opportunities to volunteer from home doing things like writing and editing, translation, project management, technology development, research and more.
  • Amnesty International’s Urgent Action Network, a letter-writing initiative that helps people whose human rights are in immediate danger through coordinated pressure from thousands of people around the world (including more than 2,500 participants in Canada).

Citizen science

Another option is to get involved in citizen science. This is where you submit data on wildlife and the environment to contribute to larger research projects – usually done online. The beauty of this type of volunteering is that you can take part while doing something you love anyway, such as hiking, diving, sailing or even simply taking a trip on a ferry somewhere. Lucky enough to spot a pod of dolphins, a humpback whale or a sea turtle? There’s an app for reporting these sighting and you will be directly contributing to conservation-based research. There are other examples for birds and marine wildlife.

Community events

It’s also worth considering getting involved in the many cultural events and festivals that take place every year – think the Talking Stick Festival, Greek Fest, Vaisakhi, Chinese New Year and many more. These events have the benefit of taking place within specific time periods so that you can plan ahead and be clear how much time you will need to commit. It’s also super easy to find time-limited volunteer opportunities during the holiday season – Ignite the Warmth Society’s blanket drive, WISH Drop-in Centre Society’s holiday meal project, AIDS Vancouver’s annual holiday grocery event and Aunt Leah’s Tree Lots are a few good examples.

Online auctions

Organizing an online silent auction is another great way to give back if you’ve got a specific chunk of time to offer and an organization you really want to work with. There are a bunch of different sites you can use.

Leadership roles

If you have a bit more time and some valuable skills and experience to offer, consider joining a volunteer board in an organization/cause that is near to your heart. Board roles typically require you to attend a meeting once every month or two and you can do most of the rest of the work from home.

There’s loads of information online about how to make volunteering work for you. But the best two pieces of advice I can give are to a) look for organizations and causes you really believe in – you’re far more likely to enjoy the work and b) be realistic (both with yourself and others) about how much time you have to offer.

Wondering where to start? Check out Volunteer BC and Happy volunteering!

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