you can volunteer with We’re all spending a LOT of time at home these days, and maybe you’re starting to get just a little bit (ok, very) bored with the same old routine. What do you miss most? If one of the things at the top of your list is feeling like you’re getting out there and making a difference in the world, then we’ve got good news for you. There are ways you can volunteer from the comfort (or the boredom) of your own home.
1. Start Right at Home (Sort of)
If you think that doing good from home requires a lot of admin, finding formal opportunities, filling out online forms, etc, and if that kind of organization is not your thing, don’t worry. You can start making a difference – and getting a taste for helping others – right in your own neighborhood. Right now, people need a sense of community more than ever, and lending a hand and giving encouragement to those around you can go a long way. For example, thank all the essential workers around you, like trash collectors, mail carriers, and grocery store clerks, with signs, notes, or treats. Find out if neighbors need anything and add necessities to your grocery order, check up on those around you (especially the elderly) with texts, or leave a treat on their porch. Small, random acts of kindness might be some of the biggest things you can do to volunteer right now.
2. Open Up and Share
Everyone’s got a story to tell, and you know what? Sometimes your story can make a big impact on the lives of others who might be going through the same things you’ve experienced. Think about what you are passionate about, and what things have most affected you in life. Are you a cancer survivor? Have you experienced mental health issues? Are you big into rescuing animals? Have you gone through something as a parent? Reach out to organizations and ask if you can help by sharing your story. Your words might just convince someone to make a donation, or could reach someone who is experiencing the same thing that you’ve gone through. Never underestimate the power of your words!
3. Make Your Voice Heard – Online
You can use your voice by telling your story online, or you can use it to speak up for change. With just a few extra minutes in your day – and from the comfort of your own couch or in between Zoom meetings – you can take political action. Start by following your legislators (everyone from your town/city council members and your local school board to your state and federal representatives) on social media (we know you were on there anyway!). If there’s an issue you’re passionate about, tag them in your tweets and posts when you advocate for a cause, and be persistent to get their attention.
Facebook also allows you to directly connect with your representatives through their Town Hall feature, and other websites perform a similar function, like Democracy.io. There are also apps that allow you to track your representatives’ votes, or to contact them with the tap of a button – try Vote Spotter, for example. You’ve got the whole world quite literally in your pocket, so let your fingers do the volunteering!
4. Brighten a Senior’s Day
Visiting nursing or care homes is definitely out of the question these days, but that doesn’t mean that older adults don’t need to know there are people out there who care. In fact, that might be more important than ever, as isolation can hit vulnerable populations the hardest. Reach out to nursing homes, and find out if they have any programs that include connecting with residents by making phone calls or being a pen/email pal.
5. Find Time for Furry Friends
You’re home, you’re on the couch – why not add a furry friend to cuddle with into the mix? There are still animals out there who need homes, and many shelters are allowing people to register and adopt online. And, now that many shelters are closed to visitors, fostering pets is another great way to volunteer. If you can’t manage either of those options, shelters are always looking for donations of anything from food to blankets to toys.
6. Connect with an Organization
If you ARE the type of person that likes to get more formally involved with well-organized groups, you can look into bigger nonprofits (and some smaller ones, too – just check with them) that offer virtual volunteering opportunities. You can do anything from offer your talents in things like writing, editing, translating, and research to helping share important updates on social media to even transcribing historical documents. Look into the following organizations you can volunteer for, but don’t limit yourself if none of these catches your fancy – there are plenty of others out there waiting for you to lend a hand.
- United Nations Volunteers
- The Smithsonian Institute
- The Red Cross
- Amnesty Decoders
- Crisis Text Line
- Translators Without Borders
7. Fundraise from Afar
You’re probably not going to be setting up any bake sales or lemonade stands anytime soon, but how about a virtual lemonade stand? Organizations like Alex’s Lemonade, which helps kids battling cancer has some great ideas to check out for setting up fundraisers, like virtual lemonade stands or video game competitions for charity. Or, if you’re really ready to get off your couch, try a virtual race! You can gather donations online and support your favorite organization – some races even let you use your treadmill at home.
8. Pack It Up!
Has all the extra time at home led to some serious decluttering sessions? Did you go crazy on the canned goods at the start of the pandemic? Got enough feminine hygiene products to last more than your lifetime? There are plenty of organizations out there doing good, giving to people in need, and the needs they’re trying to meet are greater than ever. Call around to local food banks and shelters to see what they’re accepting and how you can safely get it to them. Even if they’re not accepting things like clothes or books right now, you can guarantee they’ll be clamoring for them in the near future, so don’t throw anything away that someone else could use!
For many of us, there is more willingness to give back than there is time or the ability (due to restrictions) to do so. But, we say, where there’s a will, there’s a way! Check out the options above, or think of other ways to volunteer virtually, and you’ll not only help your fellow humans, but you’ll reap all the rewards that volunteering brings to those who give it a try. Let us know how you get involved!