65 Volunteer Opportunities and Ideas
Giving your time and money to a worthy cause is a great way to help the community. There are lots of ways you can get involved by volunteering. Browse this list for ideas based on interests, time and talent.
Volunteer Opportunities You Can Do from Home
- Knit Hats - If you’re good with needles, knit or crochet hats for infants in local hospitals, especially those in the NICU.
- Promote the Cause - Use your social media accounts to raise awareness for any of your favorite causes via hashtags, testimonials or videos.
- Shop for Good - When you’re filling your Amazon cart, use Amazon Smile. The online retailer’s philanthropy arm makes a donation to the charity you designate for every purchase you make.
- Go Green - Write emails to lawmakers advocating access to solar energy through a Vote Solar email campaign. This is a good one to get your children involved in to teach them about civic responsibility.
- Get Crafty - Make something for children in need, the troops, seniors and those with terminal illnesses by connecting with opportunities through the online site Giving Artfully. Projects include making knit blankets, cards, clothes and more.
- Put Together Hygiene Kits - To help girls and women across the world without access to personal products, you can create and donate feminine hygiene kits through an organization like Days for Girls.
- Get Grammatic - Put your grammar snobbiness to good use by proofreading for Distributed Proofreaders, an organization that digitizes public domain books.
- Make Blessing Bags - Create care packages of snacks and bottled water to hand out to homeless people you may encounter while driving.
Coordinate multiple volunteer opportunities with an online sign up. SAMPLE
- Save Energy - Raise awareness for conservation by washing your clothes with cold water and drying them on a clothesline. Learn more at Project Laundry List.
- Keep Kids Warm - Knit a blanket, mittens, scarfs and more for children in need through Knit for Kids. When you’re done, just mail your item to the distribution center.
- Become an “E-Mentor” - Your mentorship could help an at-risk student stay in school and eventually graduate. Give your support through iCouldBe, an organization that connects public high school students with professionals in a field they may be interested in one day.
- Create a Craft Kit - Put activity kits together for sick children at St. Jude’s Hospital or your local pediatric hospital. Kits can be as simple as colored pencils, crayons and a coloring book for a little waiting room fun.
- Take a Quiz - Answer questions about world hunger, and World Hunger Notes will make a donation to assist hungry people.
- Donate Spare Computing Power - Your device can help provide world-saving research on causes like stopping the Zika virus. Pick an issue you’re interested in, and World Community Grid will use your computer’s idle time to make research calculations with a promise not to affect your device’s performance.
- Volunteer Virtually - Groups like the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America’s Street Squad spread the word on social media (and with local businesses if you choose) about MS events and fundraisers.
- Plant an Extra Row in Your Garden - Donate extra produce to a local food bank or soup kitchen. Find out more at the Association for Garden Communicators’ Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign.
Volunteer Idea Based on Your Interests
- Run - Download an app like Charity Miles to earn money for great causes just by going on your morning jog or walking the dog. Also, check out sites such as active.com for a list of charity runs in your area.
- Let the Dogs Out - Sign up at a local shelter to give their animals much-needed socialization and interaction. Genius Tip: Learn how a Virginia animal shelter simplified volunteer registration with SignUpGenius.
- Get Geeky - Great at technology? Volunteer with Peace Geeks, a group that puts technology in the hands of humanitarian organizations.
- Find Your Niche - Use a site like Catchafire to find out what organizations need your specific set of skills.
- Start Scouting - Reach out to your local Girl Scout or Boy Scout group to see if they need any chaperones or volunteers to help with troop activities. Genius Tip: Organize a Girl Scout cookie booth with SignUpGenius.
- Be a Bookworm - If you love books and reading, call your local public library to see if the staff needs volunteers to read to children, check in books or complete administrative tasks.
- Tutor a Child - Talk to your local school about tutoring opportunities. Most will jump at the chance for you to work with students who need extra help.
- Host a Car Wash - Grab some friends and spend a Saturday cleaning cars for cash, then donate the proceeds to your charity of choice. Make sure to publicize where the funds will go ahead of time. Genius Tip: Organize car wash volunteer shifts with an online sign up.
- Buy in Bulk - Shop and then drop (your purchase off at a donation center). Next time you find that once-in-a-lifetime deal on an article of clothing or small appliance, buy an extra one to donate to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army.
- Teach Tech - Help a senior citizen learn how to use technology such as a computer or smartphone. You can contact a local senior center for a list of potential candidates.
- Help Get Kids Get Active - Encourage children to become physically fit by volunteering with groups such as Play60, the National Football League’s youth fitness campaign. Opportunities include helping with physical fitness activities in school, fundraising for after school programs and more. Another great group is Girls on the Run.
- Create and Maintain a Little Free Library - These small outdoor hutches are full of books that you can take for free. They also make it just as easy to donate your own titles.
- Stay at the YMCA - Help run a children’s program at your local YMCA or volunteer to help with an annual fundraising initiative. Genius Tip: Watch how a Charlotte YMCA uses SignUpGenius to organize its children’s consignment sale.
- Join a Nonprofit Board - Sites like Volunteer Match allow nonprofits to post openings for board positions, often based on areas of expertise like marketing, real estate development and more, so you can share your specific gift with those who need it.
- Put on a Show - If you’re musically inclined, cheer up patients in hospitals with a live mini-concert through Musicians on Call.
- Code for a Cause - Use your technical knowledge to help the government improve its services through Code for America.
- Host an Exchange Student - It’s a great way for your family to learn about another culture while teaching someone else about yours. Talk to your local school about programs or visit Academic Year in America.
- Become a Coach - Volunteer to lead a child’s sports team through your local school, church or recreation department.
Coordinate a nonprofit’s monthly volunteer schedule with an online sign up. SAMPLE
Volunteer Ideas to Get Your Church Group Involved in the Community
- Serve Food - Contact a soup kitchen or other hot meal service in your city. These centers may need extra help on the holidays, and they are likely to need day-to-day volunteers as well.
- Spread Learning - Read to kids at a local school or daycare. Genius Tip: Organize story time volunteers with an online sign up.
- Lend an Ear - Visit a local nursing home or senior center to play cards, eat lunch or just chat with residents.
- Be a Landscaper - Offer to plant flowers and plants in public areas and right-of-ways. Reach out to your parks and recreation department about their needs and speak to your local nursery about donations.
- Build a Home - Work with an organization like Habitat for Humanity to build a house for a family in need.
- Send Care Packages - Think about troops overseas. Someone in your congregation likely has a family member who’s deployed, so you could “adopt” his or her unit. Otherwise, check out organizations like Operation Shoebox for tips on how to get your packages together.
- Clean Up - Spend a day cleaning up a local park. Your city or county’s parks and recreation department will be glad to help you figure out how. Genius Tip: Plan volunteer shifts for a community cleanup with an online sign up.
- Send Encouragement - Write letters to missionaries. If your church doesn’t currently have anyone in the field, call the main governing body of your denomination to find out who needs to hear from supportive church members.
Request volunteer ideas for your group with an online sign up. SAMPLE
- Pray - Create a prayer list and update website for congregants who are sick or otherwise going through a tough time. CaringBridge is another great resource to keep people updated on illnesses. Genius Tip: Create prayer shifts with an online sign up.
- Hold a Blood Drive - The American Red Cross and local blood banks are always looking for organizations to host. Not only will you be helping the community, you’ll also bring people to your church’s physical location, perhaps for the first time.
- Offer to Cook - Bring a meal to a local police/fire station (bonus points if it’s on a holiday or during the third shift).
- “Adopt a Mile” - Sponsor a section of roadway to clean up. Visit your state’s Department of Transportation website to find out which areas of road are available for “adoption,” then make it a priority for yourself or your group to keep that stretch free of litter and debris.
- Host a Motivational Speaker - Select someone who has dealt with a personal challenge, such as illness or addiction, that could inspire community members to overcome obstacles in their lives.
- Throw a Birthday Party - Make a day special — complete with cake and presents — for a child or family affected by homelessness. Go through a local shelter or research nonprofit groups in your area. Genius Tip: Watch how a Charlotte nonprofit uses SignUpGenius to throw birthday parties for disadvantaged children.
- Visit the Homebound - Bring fellowship home to people who are not able to attend church. Get the whole congregation involved by using SignUpGenius to sign up for dates to visit and bring meals.
- Host a Free Children’s Event - Include games, music, inflatables and other kid-friendly attractions. It will be an opportunity for families from all walks of life to enjoy a day of fun without worrying about cost.
Volunteer by Donating
- Clean Out Your Closet - Give gently used clothes to an organization like Dress for Success, which provides attire to women as a means of helping them achieve self-sufficiency. Other good options include homeless shelters and mission-based thrift stores that benefit causes such as schools.
- Give Your Loose Change - Keep a jar next to the washing machine to collect loose change, and then donate it to your charity of choice once it’s full.
- Give Blood or Platelets - If you can handle needles, contact a local blood bank to sign up to donate.
- Be a Mentor - Donate your time to Big Brothers, Big Sisters, an organization that provides support and mentoring to youth.
- Bring a Meal - Cook a meal for a family with a new baby, sick family member or other personal circumstance that may make it tough for them to cook. Genius Tip: Use SignUpGenius to create a rotating meal schedule with the person’s friends and family.
- Donate Used Books - A public or school library is a good place to start, but think about prisons and homeless shelters as well.
- Become an Organ Donor - This is an easy way to do some good after you’re gone. Simply designate that you’re a donor on your driver’s license and if you were to die in a tragedy, your organs could potentially provide lifesaving help to another person.
- Donate Your Gently Worn Shoes - Organizations such as Soles for Souls provide footwear to impoverished people around the world.
- Save Old Eyeglass Frames - Donate them to an organization like Lions Club International that will clean up and pass glasses along to needy people with vision problems.
- Pass Along Your Ride - Ready to upgrade? Consider donating your old car to a charity like Cars Helping Veterans, which will tow your car for free, sell it and use the money to provide food, shelter and other services to wounded veterans.
- Provide Stuffed Animals - When it’s time to clean out your kids’ rooms, find out if your local police or fire station takes donations of old stuffed animals, toys and books. First responders can give these items to children affected by fires, accidents, illness, homelessness and more. Organizations like SAFE — Stuffed Animals for Emergencies — also accept these donations.
- Give the Gift of Movie Night - Give those old DVDs to an organization like Kid Flicks, which creates movie libraries for children’s hospitals and pediatric wards all over the country.
- Transfer Tech - If you’re buying a new desktop or laptop computer, consider donating your old one to Gift My PC, which will refurbish and donate it to nonprofit organizations and schools. This is also a great option for when your whole office is getting an equipment upgrade.
- Donate Old Medical Equipment - Items such as wheelchairs, oxygen and nebulizer supplies, IV stands and more can go to an organization like Project C.U.R.E. that will pass them along to resource-limited hospitals.
- Get a Haircut - Ready to chop off your locks? Donate your hair to an organization such as St. Baldricks, Locks for Love or Wigs For Kids, organizations that create wigs for individuals with cancer and other medical conditions.
Sharing your time and resources is a great gift to others. With these ideas, you’ll be on your way to making a big difference in your community.
Sarah Pryor is a journalist, wife, mom and Auburn football fan living in Charlotte, N.C.