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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Five Tips for Family Summer Volunteering

July 30, 2013

Here at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center we believe it’s never too early to learn the value of giving back to your community. Summer breaks are the perfect time to get involved, as families are looking to fill the summer months with fun, meaningful experiences.

Getting started can be the hardest part. To help you get the ball rolling and find the activity that’s right for you and your family, the staff at our Visitor Center has created a list of tips for family summer volunteering.

  1.  Find What Inspires You: The best volunteer experiences are ones that you’re passionate about. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center, located across from Seattle Center, is a great place to learn about different causes to find out which ones resonate with you.
  2. Get Connected: There are many great organizations.. Start by visiting sites like, or to search for opportunities by location and issue area. You can think about helping a neighbor orstop by your local community center, school guidance counselor or faith based organization  to find out where your peers are volunteering.
  3. Volunteer as a group: Nervous to do it alone? Get your friends or family together and create lasting memories that truly make a difference. It’s also a great way to teach younger ones the importance of giving back.
  4. Donate Your Skills: Chances are you have a special skill or talent, so use it to guide your volunteer efforts. If you play baseball, coach a youth league. If you love books, volunteer with a public library. If you work in communications, help a nonprofit with its social media. If you are good with technology help others that are not. Someone is out there looking for your brilliance!
  5. Don’t over-commit: Make sure you choose something that fits with your schedule but still benefits the organization. It’s always better to start out slowly than to commit yourself to an opportunity you can't fulfill. Once you commit people depend on you!

Remember, even small acts of kindness make a difference. Think about helping a senior neighbor do yard work, mentoring a community member or collecting old clothing for a local shelter.

Ready to get out there and make a difference? Let us know how you’re getting involved this summer in the comments below, on Twitter at @GatesVC, or post a photo of your family in action on our Facebook page.

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