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Best Ways to Give Back in Retirement 

Retirement can be one of the best times of your life if you have the right attitude. Ok, maybe you can't run as fast as you could in your 20s, and perhaps there are more aches and pains, but these are all minor details. You've accumulated a lifetime's worth of knowledge and intuition, and this experience can be helpful to others. Most retired people have extra time on their hands, which presents the perfect opportunity to give back. 

Some people find meaning in volunteering at their church or temple, while others enjoy lending a hand at their local soup kitchen or shelter. There are so many different ways that retirees can give back, from one-time events to more immersive programs. ​​Volunteering in retirement is a great way to stay active and connect to your community. This article will look at some of our favorite ways to give back in retirement and even tips on picking a charity.

The Benefits of Volunteering in Retirement

One of the biggest dangers people in retirement can run into is social isolation. And the reality is this isn't only an issue for seniors. Our entire society has moved in a direction that removes social interactions. Instead of a phone call, people send an email or a text. Instead of shopping in a store, we buy things online. We see fewer community organizations from churches or synagogues and clubs as an essential part of life. By volunteering, you can become part of a community and get out there and interact with other people. 

Getting out of the house and giving back can have an incredible effect on your mental outlook. Just being active both mentally and physically can help get you out of the doldrums. And science has shown in multiple studies that volunteering can positively affect depression and mental isolation. By getting outside of ourselves and giving back to people and causes, we can gain tremendous personal joy along with helping others. The great thing is that fantastic organizations are doing great work and are in desperate need of volunteers. Most of these places operate on very tight budgets to help as many people as possible, so any volunteers are sincerely appreciated. They usually are also very open to being flexible with your schedule and individual needs. 

Different Ways Seniors Can Volunteer 

Mentoring 

There are many ways to give back to your community in retirement. One of the best ways seniors can help is to become a mentor. You can offer guidance, support, and encouragement when navigating difficult decisions to someone who needs some advice, and it's an excellent way for seniors to keep mentally engaged. You can mentor a stranger or someone you already know, but it's a great way to give back by utilizing that lifetime of knowledge. 

One Time Events

One-time volunteering opportunities are events that take place on a specific day or time and require your presence for that event. Examples of such events include assisting at a blood drive, donating clothing at a local church, and coaching at an athletic event. These events typically last 3-4 hours and don't require any pre-commitment or planning on the individual participating. These can be a great way to get involved and learn more about specific charities without a significant time commitment. 

Political Volunteering 

For some, politics can be a bit of a drag; however, getting involved in politics can be a  great way to change your community. There are numerous ways to volunteer, from reaching out to local politicians running for office or volunteering on a national level. As the saying goes, all politics is local, so you might want to start by getting involved with causes or politicians in your city. This is also a great way to meet like-minded people who might share some of your political beliefs. 

Working With a Religious Organization 

Numerous religious organizations provide vital services to communities throughout the country. From soup kitchens to hospice care to battered women’s shelters, churches and synagogues and mosques often step up to take on complicated cases. By volunteering, you can instantly become part of a community and help less fortunate people who may be struggling. 

Tips On Picking The Right Charity

In addition to donating our time, it is equally important to give back monetarily if we have the means. Securing the future of generations to come depends on the charities we choose to support in our golden years. You may feel overwhelmed when picking a charity because there are so many critical factors in your decision. Here are some helpful tips on choosing a charity right for you. 

Check Out Their Rating on Charity Navigator

You want to feel validated that your donations are going to good use. One of the biggest problems with many charities is they spend too much money on administration and marketing and not enough on the actual cause they are supposedly supporting. Charity Navigator is a national directory of charities worldwide, providing an overall ranking on criteria such as program expense ratio, transparency, and accountability. Like most corporations, we have a handful of charities that we support locally and nationally at Active Aging. For example, because our leadership is Jewish-owned, we support Alexander Muss High School, which provides opportunities for American high school students to study in Israel. Before adding them to our list, we checked out their 94.44 rating on Charity Navigator. The moral of the story is to make sure you do your homework before making a financial contribution. You don’t want your hard-worked retirement money to go to waste. 

Passion Leads to Inspiration

Every day, thousands of retirees ask themselves this important question. How do I find that spark that will excite me again? Without work and a structured routine, many retirees find themselves bored and uninspired. Finding a charity that you are passionate about is the quickest way to ignite meaning in your daily life. If you are fascinated by sports, find a charity that helps underprivileged youth purchase sporting equipment. Perhaps you have always loved theater, then give back to a local arts and culture center in your neighborhood. Your passions fuel your inspiration, ultimately keeping you happy and fulfilled in retirement. 

Honor a Living Loved One

The act of honoring someone is an act of love. Many people think of celebrating someone as doing something in their memory. While this is true, you can also honor loved ones still living. Discover what your children or grandchildren are passionate about and support a charity in their honor. When your loved ones learn about you supporting causes they care about, it ultimately will strengthen your bond with them.