Philanthropy Lesson #1: Time is Cheap


Meet Sophie Azouaou, 7x7’s new Community Impact Contributor. As owner of SophiSticate Interiors and host of the upcoming NBC TV show, Touching Hearts, she has established herself as a key player in the Bay Area community and is a valuable resource on ways to lend a hand. In this bi-weekly Thursday column, Sophie serves up the philanthropy dish for the budget-conscious volunteer. Tune in to get tips on giving back that put your mind and your wallet at ease.

It makes sense that volunteering may have fallen off your radar screen during these trying economic times, but the need for help is greater than ever, and contrary to popular belief, lending a hand doesn’t have to cost you a thing. Nonprofits are sourced with small staffs and are finding it more and more difficult to identify willing individuals to fill positions—from committees and boards to “street team” volunteer forces. While finding financial support is important, it’s equally critical for organizations to maintain an arsenal of reliable helpers. Whether it be a few hours each day, one night a week or assistance with annual events, there are plenty of ways to make a difference by donating your time, not your money. In the coming weeks, we’ll hone in on specific ideas for getting involved in the Bay Area, but for now, here are four ways to help you start thinking outside the box.

Virtual Volunteering: If you’re not one to get down and dirty, many nonprofits could benefit from your professional area of expertise right out of the comfort of your own home (i.e. help an organization’s finance department or contribute your event coordination skills).

Spring Cleaning: Rid yourself of excess by donating that Laura Ashley dress you’ll never wear again, those old vinyls collecting dust in your attic or the cranberry sauce hiding in the depths of your cupboard.

Go Back to School: Tutor or mentor students at a local education center, lead activities at an afterschool program or contribute to classroom and grounds maintenance—all great places to start that don’t involve special skills.

Match Ups: Search databases like Idealist, VolunteerMatch and One Brick to find volunteer opportunities that best suit your interests.

Check back in the coming weeks for your next philanthropy lesson or contact Sophie directly in the meantime for more information.


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