As busy business professionals, many of us genuinely wish we could make a positive impact on our community, but oftentimes it is difficult to make a regular commitment to volunteering. This blog post looks beyond the surface and outlines ways you can still make a difference every day, no matter how busy you may be.

Plan a night out for a cause– Whether you are a seasoned painter or have never picked up a paint brush in your life, plan a fun night out with Wine and Canvas as your host. Several times a month Wine and Canvas will have a non-profit partner for the night, and $10 from every ticket sold will be donated to the non-profit organization. Wine and Canvas provides the materials necessary to make your own masterpiece, as well as professional coaching to help you through the process. Grab some friends or coworkers, order some wine and appetizers, and enjoy a night out with Wine and Canvas—while knowing your participation in that event is impacting a community organization.

Switch up your lunch routine – Supporting local establishments can have a major impact on the city of Grand Rapids. During pressing times when urban decay is on the rise, city revitalization is vital. Mix up your routine and try someplace new, or even commit to purchasing dinner ingredients at the local Farmer’s Market. As the famous quote states – “every dollar you spend is a vote for how you want the world to be, and who you want to control it.”

Step aside, Google – Every day Google answers more than one billion questions. What Google may not want you to know is that there are other search engines, such as Goodsearch, that make a charitable contribution of $.01 for every search conducted. More than 15 million people used Goodsearch last year, supporting more than 100,000 nonprofits and schools globally. Since 2006, Goodsearch users have raised more than $9 million for non-profit organizations. What if we all used Goodsearch? One billion searches per day….365 days in a year… It can be easy to make a positive impact in the world by making a simple change.

Share your story, and listen to others– Many of us seek inspiration from others as the fuel to our internal fire. Did you overcome a major barrier in your life? What makes you passionate about your career? Set up a lunch meeting with a colleague or new business associate and take the time to share your story, and make a conscious effort to listen to what they have to say.

Join a Business Leads Group – Many esteemed business professionals acknowledge the importance of helping develop the businesses of other trusted associates, while fulfilling the commitment we have to our own bottom line. As a young professional who serves as an executive committee member of a local business networking group, I cannot emphasize enough the significant impact these groups can have when you come into every meeting with a genuine concern for other businesses, and a desire to not only help yourself, but your neighbor as well. Examples of business leads groups: GRAPE Business Leads Group, Grand Rapids Association of Seasoned Professionals (GRASP), Business Networking International (BNI), Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce (GRACC) Business by Referrals group

Time Management 101 – One of the first rules to effective time management is the physical act of penciling an activity or task into your weekly calendar, which adds more accountability in making sure we act upon our plans. If you still want to make a conscious effort to volunteer, then I encourage you to set something up in advance and add it into your calendar just as you would do with a business meeting or doctor’s appointment.

The altruistic value of volunteering can never be substituted for anything else; everyone is passionate about something, and chances are there are ways to make a positive impact while doing something you love. Whether you volunteer an hour to teach a seminar, donate gently used clothing to In the Image, or serve on a non-profit board of directors, there’s always ways to help – no matter how busy you may be.

This blog post merely scratches the surface of ways you can make an impact within your community while you go about your daily routine. What can you do today in Grand Rapids to make a difference? Join the conversation now on Twitter- #MakeanImpactGR

Blog Post by Whitney Ehresman, Business Development Manager at Advanced Technology Recycling

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If you like to guest blog, please contact John M Potter. John serves as GRAPE’s Host. You can find him on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.