Think Green

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Give back with environmental causes

Volunteering with an environmental organization is often a great way to help a good cause while protecting the planet and benefitting future generations. Becoming involved with an environmental effort can go beyond cleaning debris from coastal areas or petitioning to save endangered species. There are many aspects of environmental philanthropy just waiting to be explored. Here's how to get started.

Find your niche

Consider what interests you most about the environment. This can help you find an organization that shares your goals and interests. For example, people interested in marine life and education may want to work with a marine conservancy agency or with an organization dedicated to reducing chemical-related spills in oceans and other waterways.

It's also important to find an organization that can put your unique skills to use. Explore volunteer opportunities with the same zeal you would apply when looking for a new job, paying particular attention to opportunities that can make especially good use of your talents.

Determine your availability

As with any volunteer opportunity, the extent of your involvement with an environmental group will likely depend on the amount of time you can commit to the organization. Volunteer opportunities may vary depending on project length and travel constraints. Organizations that take on larger environmental efforts, such as protecting rainforests or endangered species, may require travel and longer time commitments than local organizations. Be honest with yourself as to how much time you can devote to volunteering.

Raise awareness of a local issue

Becoming part of a charitable environmental effort may not require contracting with an established organization. You may want to begin your own grassroots effort close to home. Start by picking an issue that affects your local community, and then work to raise awareness about this issue. Find a mission that is dear to your heart and one that gives you an opportunity to make a noticeable and positive impact on your community. Many large scale charities began with an idea and a small effort, only to grow as awareness is raised and community members are inspired to make a difference.

Encourage help from others

Sometimes the best charitable efforts are those that encourage others to get involved. Promote an organization or cause, using your voice to spur others to action. Spreading the word about a good cause can have a far-reaching, long-lasting impact.