Volunteering your time helps charities in ways donations of cash and supplies cannot. Americans gave nearly 8 billion in-kind hours in 2011, according to the federal agency Corporation for National and Community Service. You can volunteer on your own or through your company's employee volunteer or community service program. Donating in-kind hours helps others. Your career could benefit from it too. According to the Internal Revenue Code, however, you cannot deduct the value of your donated time or services on your income tax return.
Depending on the nonprofit you pick, your donation of in-kind hours could involve using your professional expertise or simply doing a needed unskilled job. The Corporation for National and Community Service estimated that nonprofits received services worth nearly $171 billion through such pro bono work in 2011. In addition to helping charities function, in-kind hours help them meet donation requirements for grants that pull in much-needed funds.
Companies find that in-kind donations of employee time make good business sense by cementing their reputation in the communities they serve. According to the website OnPhilanthropy.com, they also find employee pro bono programs make good recruitment and retention tools. The route a company takes varies from giving workers paid volunteer time for the charities of their choice to supporting employee involvement with special volunteer projects.
You don't need a company program to serve a community charity. Most nonprofits welcome dedicated volunteers. The more hours you devote over time, the more familiar you will become with the organization's needs and volunteer opportunities. One of those opportunities may open a door for you to put your professional skills to work for the good of the group. The Charity Rater's Good Intentions website suggests making sure that any time you donate exceeds the amount of time the charity spends training you. If you need help finding a gig, volunteermatch.org can pair you with one.
The experience you gain from donating in-kind hours adds meat to your resume. In a 2011 survey by professional networking site LinkedIn, one in five employers said volunteer work influenced their hiring decisions and 41 percent equated volunteered time with paid work. Donating in-kind hours exposes you to new people and expands your network. You could learn new skills and hone existing ones. When you're between jobs, volunteer work demonstrates initiative to hiring managers and, when you can serve on a project in your area of expertise, keeps you in touch with your profession. It may even lead to permanent employment.