If you are volunteering your time on Saturday, October 26 as part of the 23rd annual Make A Difference Day, the answer is, “yes.” Sponsored by USA WEEKEND Magazine and Points of Light, Make A Difference Day is the largest national day of community service. This year, 3 million people are expected to participate in projects around the nation that will benefit 20 million people.
Gannett, USA WEEKEND’s parent company, is mobilizing its employees in more than 100 communities to participate in a variety of projects that will include planting a fall garden for a Jackson, Miss. wellness program; building a library for a Cincinnati orphanage; and working on a Habitat for Humanity build site in Denver. “People often think that volunteering means writing a big check or doing something lofty,” says Gayle King, co-host of CBS This Morning. “But, it’s the small things that can make a difference in someone’s life.”
Non-profit organizations are not the only ones that stand to benefit. Volunteers can benefit too. According to the 2013 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey, volunteering can build skills, provide valuable leadership capabilities and even give job candidates an edge. The survey also found that traditional and skills-based volunteerism is good for business and, therefore, encouraged at many organizations through corporate citizenship programs.
Howard G. Buffett, son of investor Warren Buffet, says that opportunities to make a difference are like a farmer’s growing season. In his newly released book, 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, he writes, “Whether you love or hate what you are doing, whether you are good at it or struggling, life is not a treadmill – it’s a moving walkway. There are no do-overs. We get a limited number of chances to do what we do, whatever we do, right. Am I making the most of my chances?” Through his philanthropic efforts and non-profit foundation, Howard Buffet, who works as a farmer for half of the year, is dedicated to making a difference when it comes to global food issues.
Business leaders can make a difference on two levels. Personally, they can find a cause that speaks to them and volunteer their time. Professionally, they can join the growing number of organizations that support non-profits through diverse and creative social responsibility programs. Looking for ways to volunteer without leaving your computer? Check out Skills for Change for online skills-based volunteer opportunities.
What are you doing to make a difference? Share your story with us.