Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home parent, a caregiver, or maybe you’re recovering from an injury or you find yourself currently unemployed. No matter why you’re at home, you’ve realized you have an interest in social change.
But with a full plate of home-based responsibilities, you will have to go above and beyond to fit in this socially reactive addendum. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
Define your calling
Figuring out what moves you is the first step––we’ll worry about how you’re going to fit it in a little later.
Start by doing some research and conduct a few deep-down soul searches to determine what area, cause, organization, and sector most compels you.
- Do some research on subjects that get your attention. For example, are you interested in helping children, promoting human rights, or protecting animal welfare?
- Another great way to find your way into the nonprofit sector is to see where your passion complements your experience and skillset. Look to where those three elements overlap and it may give you a starting point to working towards change.
- Consider the different ways you see yourself fitting into a new organization. Are you going to lead, organize, research, or do you feel like focusing on outreach?
Worried about a lack of experience?
Are you hesitant to get started because you feel that your experience won’t measure up? Don’t worry, nonprofits are generally places that value passion, new ideas, and dedication. You, who are going above and beyond their already full plate, will be sure to earn some street cred when you reach out to do more.
If you have zero nonprofit experience but a recent event or policy shift has you Googling how to make a difference, start your journey by making a brag list of all your skills and experiences. This is a great way to identify cross over potential. For example:
- If you’ve worked with numbers in the past, nonprofits regularly have a need for budget analysts, accountants, or other finance-savvy individuals.
- Or, if you’re a people person, have customer service experience, or sales experience, look to development departments or volunteer coordinators. Being able to connect with supporters or donors is a special skillset that’s in high demand at most nonprofits.
If you have limited work experience outside the home, but still want to get involved, draw upon your transferable skills:
- Have you ever helped run a bake sale, fundraiser, or PTA gala? That’s event-planning experience and can easily translate into something like organizing grassroots neighborhood dinners to support an organization.
- Are you good with people, and on phones? You can offer to help work or organize a phone bank.
- Do philanthropists make up your inner circle? Set up a donor brunch for your favorite nonprofit. And while you’re at it, get in touch with the development director; there’s often potential prospect research opportunities in fundraising that don’t require too much training, just an internet connection and diligence.
The option to volunteer
If you’re still looking to gain more experience, nonprofits have a variety of ways to get your foot in the door. Volunteering is one of the best ways to get involved, here’s how:
- Be proactive and reach out. There are plenty of organizations interested in your help. Idealist.org has a fantastic database or organizations and volunteer referral centers looking for volunteers.
- You can embark on a volunteer-to-work path where you create a connection with an organization through volunteering and potentially, eventually get hired.
- Volunteering is also a great way to spend your professional down time. It has the potential to improve your skills while meeting your need to give back––and most nonprofits absolutely rely on volunteers. Many volunteers are the backbone of outreach or frontline activities for thriving nonprofits.
Word to the passionate: however good your plan to volunteer to give back or move a movement forward may be, before you jump in, make sure you have your own needs met first.
Now you’re on your way! Stay tuned for the second part to this piece which will discuss where to look for flexible jobs, and how to fit everything in.
Are you interested in working for change while also juggling your home-based responsibilities? Please share and let us know about your challenges and triumphs!
About the author: With a background in the performing arts and journalism, Caroline understands the often motley course of career change. She’s been a reporter at NPR, a music teacher, and co-managed a yoga resort in in northern Michigan. Her passions include helping at-risk youth, supporting women’s rights, and encouraging girls to study science.