Three Reasons You Should Take A Day to Volunteer

Americans forfeit 222 million vacation days annually. These days could not be rolled over, could not be paid out, were not banked, or used for any other benefit—they were purely lost. By losing out on this time, Americans are becoming de facto volunteers for their employers. Typically when I volunteer, I want a t-shirt or at least some juice and cookies. So instead of volunteering for your employer this year, take a cue from National Philanthropy Day to take a day off and volunteer. It's a win-win: you get the benefits of taking a day off and your time is spent doing good.

1. Support Your Community

Volunteer local. Spend a day away from the office and do some good in your community. If you have a favorite organization in mind, all it takes is an inquiry. If not, Volunteer Match connects organizations with volunteers based on location and interest. Take a look at all the connections happening today alone. Food Pantries is also another resource to consider this time a year as food distribution centers and soup kitchens see increased demand around the holidays.

2. Give Back Globally

Whether a day or your whole trip, turn a good deed into an experience of a lifetime by volunteering on your next vacation. Voluntourism (volunteer tourism) has been gaining traction as a way to both see a new area of the world, connect with a community, and give back. More than 1.6 million travelers dedicate their trips to doing good each year. You may find inspiration in something overseas or perhaps an opportunity at a U.S. National Park.

3. Bring Family Closer Together

Establish a new tradition. Despite what they say to you, 82% of kids actually want you more involved in their lives. A few years ago, Katie created a new tradition for her family, The Thanksgivng Project. Every November, they research a volunteer opportunity to donate their time together. In addition to teaching her daughters the value of lending a hand (three-year-old Maddie has already learned so much), it provides a regular opportunity to come together as a family during the holiday season. So why not weave in a day for annual volunteering into your family story?

If you're like me and not in the kid-zone yet, counteract the game of Cards Against Humanity at friendsgiving by taking a day to volunteer with friends.

Any kind of volunteering, whether an afternoon or a week long vacation, helps to make the world go ‘round. Leave the to-do list behind for a day to bring joy into your life and the community around you.

Note: The data and statistics referenced in this post have been updated since we originally published this post. Learn more about the State of American Vacation 2016.

November 12, 2015