Hello – Thanks for contacting us with your question!
This is a common issue for people who are trying to make a difference in their communities but don’t have the luxury of being independently wealthy or paid for their efforts! I’m taking a page from the Kansas Leadership Center (http://kansasleadershipcenter.org/) because they have some pretty good guidance on how to be civically engaged. One thing to do is stay focused on your purpose. Why is it that you have to be involved in whatever community effort you are? That’s not a snarky question – but a way to think about how your efforts fit with your larger purpose and what you want to accomplish. I know that doesn’t take away the need to pay the bills. But it can provide some motivation to keep going.
Also, the Kansas Leadership Center suggests that you find ways to “give the work back.” This means to be clear about your role and don’t do things that are the responsibility (or right) of others. Also, find ways to energize others to help in your efforts. I’m paraphrasing all of this. But the point being that civic leadership is a combination of managing yourself and energizing others, among other things (i.e., diagnosing the issue and intervening skillfully) according to the Kansas Leadership Center. You can check out some of their publications if you want to learn more about their model (http://kansasleadershipcenter.org/klcpress/).
Finally, it might help to keep in mind that “small wins” can build to big things. Check out an article by Karl Weick regarding “Redefining the Scale of Social Problems” (http://bit.ly/2zSt0Qv). It might help provide some encouragement for the gains that come from your involvement…even if your time is limited.
Even if you can’t be as involved as you’d like, I’m sure your efforts are meaningful. Good luck in your endeavors!