man jumping

Summer solstice: the gift of time

19 June 2015

This Sunday will be the longest day of the year. The sun will come up just before quarter to five in the morning, and it will hang around for the best part of seventeen hours.

We’ll be able to enjoy the usual sights and sounds of the summer solstice—media coverage of Stonehenge revelers and druids walking the lay-lines. Snappers will be out in force to get shots of people jumping into the fountains in Trafalgar Square, ready for Monday’s front pages.

All of which leads me to an intriguing thought. There will be more day stretching before us than at any other time this year. More time in which to make our mark on the world; more time in which to do good. So how might we fill this time most fruitfully? How, without any great preparation, can we use the longest day of the year to make things that little bit better?

Gathered with some help from my colleague Katy Murray, here are some suggestions for doing good this solstice:

  1. Find yourself somewhere to volunteer. It’s one click away (of course it is: this is 2015 and everything is just a click away). Speed Volunteering is quite heavily weighted towards London and the south-east, but for anyone within spitting distance of the M25 it makes voluntary work absurdly easy to find.
  2. Measure how effective your charity is. If you’re already working at a charity, or giving your time for free, it isn’t as hard as you think to start considering the impact it creates for its beneficiaries. NPC, working alongside partners in the voluntary sector, has handily brought all the tools together in one place in our Inspiring Impact hub. Use your extra time to explore what’s available.
  3. Get out and about. Running is good for you, and it can be good for other people too. Register with Good Gym and then go for a trot knowing that your jogging is bringing benefits to your community too.
  4. Revisit those direct debits. I have three charity direct debits going out of my account, including one to a dog charity (people who know me won’t be surprised!). But honestly, I can’t remember the last time I checked what any of them were up to. So it’s prime time to do so: look at how the charities are spending the money you give, and ask how much impact they’re making. If their website doesn’t tell you, don’t be afraid to give them a call and ask.
  5. Spread the word. Is there a charity you love—somewhere which focuses on the things you care about, does loads of good, has a smart plan for the future? Then tell your family and friends all about it. Good charities shouldn’t be hidden, and personal recommendations can raise some serious funds.