Profits aren’t the only measure of success. For many IT professionals, giving back to their community is every bit as important as growing their businesses. Offering help to your local community is a great way to earn extra karma points, meet great people, develop more confidence, and feel those warm-and-fuzzies from knowing you made a difference. And although the work is a reward itself, donated time and charitable contributions can also carry various tax incentives for you and your business, making volunteer work a win-win for you and your community.
So where do you start? There are dozens of ways to aid your local community. Here are a few popular ways IT professionals can start making a difference today.
Volunteer at Schools
There are a numerous ways you can volunteer at schools. While teaching professionally requires a teaching certificate, you can provide your insight to middle schools, high schools, and colleges as a guest lecturer. Or you can work with instructors to help them set up and run technology-related clubs and after-school programs. Additionally, you could offer pro-bono IT services to a school in your area. This will help put better learning tools in the hands of their students. Look for volunteer opportunities on the websites of local schools, or simply pick up the phone and contact their main offices or community organizers (if available) to discuss potential opportunities.
Teach Technology to the Elderly
Many retirement homes and senior centers offer courses to their residents and patrons. Many seniors are eager to gain a better understanding of technology, so consider contacting a local retirement home and offering your services as a teacher. You could provide courses on basic computer skills, Internet safety, avoiding online scams, and more.
Provide IT Services to Area Nonprofits
Nonprofits run on the caring hearts of members of the community, and you can be one of them. Since so many charitable organizations have minimal budgets for things like IT and staff, you can save the day by offering your knowledge and skills to them at no cost. Pick a local charity you like and reach out to them to see what kinds of needs they might have. Note that not all of them will need IT services and needs will differ from one organization to another. There are also a few helpful websites you can use to find nonprofits in need of volunteers.
Sponsor Sports Teams
Sports are a great way for both kids and adults to learn new skills, develop more confidence, learn to work as a team, and stay active. You can support these goals by sponsoring teams. Many sports teams offer sponsorship packages. This gives you an opportunity to advertise and get your company’s name out there, while also providing the team with financial support. Check sites like LeagueSide and OpenSponsorship to find sports teams in your area that need sponsors. Also, many youth sports programs are run by local Parks and Recreation departments. Check the website of your local Parks and Rec department to see what sponsorship or volunteer opportunities are available.
Most charitable organizations need two things: volunteer time and charitable donations. If you’re unable to find time to provide volunteer services, you can always donate money. If you’re not sure where your money will make the biggest impact, look at sites like Charity Navigator and Charity Watch. They rate various nonprofits and offer visibility into their inner workings so you can be more certain your donation goes to the cause you intended.
Take Time to Find a Fit
Volunteer opportunities vary, and you may discover that, as with regular jobs, not all volunteer opportunities are quite the right match. Be sure to choose an organization with a cause that means a lot to you. If you’re passionate about what they do, you’ll love the work you do as a volunteer and you’ll put your best foot forward as you make a great positive impact in your community.
And most importantly: make it happen! As you were reading these tips, you probably thought of a local organization where you could help out. Don’t delay, and do a quick search for their phone number right now. Your help will be very valuable to any organization but, while it’s usually the thought that counts, in this case it really doesn’t matter unless you actually do it.