Celebrate National Giving Month with these 10 volunteer ideas

December celebrates National Giving Month, starting with International Volunteer Day, recognized on December 5th. While that celebrates the contributions of volunteers worldwide, you can certainly make every month into an opportunity to help others. In some cases, you don't even need to leave home to make an impact. Continue reading for 10 ideas to get you started.

  1. Lead a donation drive

Schools, food pantries, domestic violence shelters, animal shelters, are always in need of specific supplies, but often lack the resources to do a large-scale donation drive. You can be that resource by hosting a drive in your area. Check out this guide for a step-by-step approach that helps you form a team, do promotion, and coordinate with local charities.

  1. Work for the Smithsonian

One of the world's most prestigious museums, the Smithsonian benefits from the work of thousands of volunteers and many of them never have to step foot in one of the museum's buildings. You can be a digital volunteer by transcribing historic documents, identifying plants, and updating Wikipedia pages.

  1. Watch the skies

Run by NASA, the GLOBE Observer international project can be done from anywhere, and helps support climate research. You just take photos of clouds wherever you are, then submit them through an app. Scientists compare those with satellite images to get data about weather patterns from multiple angles.

  1. Learn to knit, donate the results

Make the most of your free time by learning to knit or crochet through a community education class or even on YouTube. From there, you can turn it into a volunteer effort by donating your creations. For example, an 86-year-old retired engineer in Georgia taught himself to knit so he could create warm hats for premature babies.

  1. Be an anti-litterbug

Sometimes, volunteering can be as easy as taking a walk and bringing a trash bag with you. Picking up litter along your route not only keeps your local space cleaner and more beautiful, but you'll also be doing local wildlife a huge favor since cigarette butts can leach toxins into water and soil as they decompose.

  1. Foster a shelter pet

While animal shelters will always be important, foster care is also a crucial aspect to helping a pet adjust to living with a family—making them much more likely to be adopted. In many places, foster "parents" provide temporary care for cats, kittens, dogs, and puppies and some animals only need a few weeks of care before they transition to their forever families..

  1. Connect with seniors

One of the biggest health risks for older adults is loneliness, which research has linked to cognitive decline, loss of physical function, and depression. There are several ways you can help, from teaching a community class to delivering meals to writing letters. This AARP list of ideas can be a key starting point for helping elders in your area and beyond.

  1. Help in a crisis

According to Mental Health America, over 50 million Americans are experiencing mental health challenges and many are not receiving any treatment. That makes crisis help lines an essential component of suicide prevention. Fortunately, with technology, you can become a trained crisis volunteer no matter where you are. For example, Crisis Text Line connects volunteers and people in crisis and trains you in active listening and collaborative problem solving.

  1. Teach a class

Whether you're adept at crafts and can teach an in-person community education class or you want to be a virtual volunteer assisting Teach for America corps members, there are usually ample opportunities to share your talents and knowledge with others. Connect with your local community ed, technical school, or K-12 school if you'd like to do in-person classes, or browse virtual education opportunities on VolunteerMatch.

  1. Use your business skills

If you're adept at writing a press release, creating a social media content calendar, assessing fundraising plans, doing graphic design, providing translation, or other skills, consider signing up for a virtual volunteer effort at Catchafire. The organization helps small nonprofits connect with savvy volunteers to get essential work done.


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