We get it. We’re busy, like really busy. It shows in our stats. Statistics NZ recently released data showing that the number of hours contributed by volunteers in non-profit organisations dropped by 42 per cent between 2004 and 2013.

Yet at the same time, we know that volunteering is good for us. Studies have shown it can help with mental and physical health. We know that it helps to build vibrant, more caring communities. We know it helps our charities work effectively.

So how do we marry the two? How do we find time to volunteer, when we don’t have the time? Here are five ideas:

MAKE TIME

Let’s get this one out of the way. If you’re that busy, it may pay to stop to reassess where your time is going? Is what you spend your time on worthwhile? Don’t be someone who looks back at the end of their life with regret. Invest your life in meaningful things; family, friends and making a difference.

CORPORATE GIVE BACK

Many businesses are now recognising the need to give back and are allocating time to for employees to do that. Companies such as BNZ close its doors once a year for its Closed for Good campaign. Recently Neighbourly and the Warehouse’s organised the Great Community Clean Up which encouraged locals to get outdoors and clean up their favourite areas in their communities. There may be room for your employer to incorporate a similar initiative – if you don’t ask, you may never know.

ALIGN IT WITH YOUR INTERESTS

If you can find something that you could genuinely take up as a hobby, it won’t feel like work. People tend to have a very traditional view of what volunteering is but the average Kiwi would be pleasantly surprised about how varied the volunteering needs are. Make a post to Neighbourly and find out what interesting volunteering positions are out there in your neighbourhood. Currently, there are opportunities that range from strawberry planters to newsletter editors to food rescuers – all different skill sets and all different levels of time investment.

TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE

When it comes to your child’s sports games, you pretty much have to be on the sidelines anyway; so why not kill two birds with one stone and coach or referee the games? Volunteering is much more than helping those in need, it also incorporates the things that help us as nation thrive in healthy and creative ways.

MICROVOLUNTEERING

Over the past number of years, we have seen the rise of Microvolunteering, which describes a volunteer, or team of volunteers, completing small tasks that make up a larger project for organisations or government agencies. These projects often require more specialised skills and have much smaller time commitments. Check out your local organisations directory on Neighbourly.co.nz and ask them how you can show your support.

While these ideas are designed to inspire you, don’t let them restrict you. Get creative, there are so many ways to get involved.

SOURCE: stuff.co.nz