There’s a reason why more than 77 million American adults — 30.3 percent of the entire country — volunteer each year.
Simply put, giving back to the community feels good. And it’s mutually beneficial, of course, because you get to help a cause that can, in turn, do more with your help.
We don’t need to go over why you want to volunteer or donate to charity, though. What we do need to discuss are ways to give back beyond the ones you may already know.
There’s so much that you can do to help — many ways you probably haven’t thought of yet. Here’s what you should know before you start volunteering in 2021 and beyond.
1. Find the Cause Closest to Your Heart
You may want to start your search by finding the charity or volunteer organization that most speak to you. Perhaps you already have a cause in mind that you want to support.
Visit VolunteerMatch.org to find an organization that works toward that same goal. That way, you can center your volunteer search on finding a donation center or volunteer opportunity to benefit that particular organization.
2. Uncover Passive Giving Programs
Now that you’ve found the charities to which you want to donate, get in touch with them. See if they have any partnerships with local businesses. Simply spending your money there will mean that a portion of your cash goes to the organization that you want to support.
One major example of this is Givevia. You can choose a charity to support, and, with every purchase you make online, a percentage goes to the organization you select.
3. Support Local Farmers
It’s not necessarily the same thing as, say, donating to charity. But buying local can benefit the community and economy, which lifts everyone up.
Supporting your local farmers is one way of doing this. You probably can’t do all of your grocery shopping from their bounty alone. But buying as much fresh produce from them will bolster their profits, which they tend to spend in the community, too.
There are some added benefits of eating locally for you, too. The food you get tends to be more nutritious, and it has a smaller environmental impact, too. Think about it: you’ll be buying produce grown nearby, meaning it doesn’t have to be shipped or flown into town for you to buy it.
You can find a list of local farmers and markets on the USDA’s website.
4. Donate Blood
In 2021 especially, you may want to give back in a way that helps those in health crises.
This year and every year, the Red Cross will happily accept your donations of blood and plasma. You can easily find a donation center near you, too. After that, sign up and commit to a few hours’ of service to help those in need without spending a dime.
5. Volunteer at a School
It’s no secret that America’s educators are some of its hardest-working professionals. They receive very little pay for the work that they do in society, and many work extra hours to provide the best learning materials and environment to their students.
You can show how much you appreciate teachers by helping them directly. Reach out to schools in your local area to see what kind of help they may need. Perhaps they’ll just ask for a donation of supplies — this is an easy enough way to give back.
But they may ask you to physically come in and help, especially if you’re a parent of a student there. Some teachers may enlist you to read to their students, serve as a field trip chaperone or monitor the playground. You could also visit on the weekend to clean up or plant flowers on school grounds.
These are easy enough tasks for you to take on, and they’d help free up teachers’ precious time for more important to-dos. In other words, it’s a win-win for everyone.
6. Create a Collection Jar
Do you own a business? If so, you can easily collect spare change to give to a charity of your choice.
Just set out a jar by the cash register. Be sure to clearly label where the money will go — customers will be happy to leave their change if they know it’s going to help an important local cause.
You can stick with one charity or switch up which one to spotlight each month. Perhaps your coin jar will inspire customers to do some research into the organization and donate even more cash — you never know all the good you can do until you try!
7. Plan a Yard Sale For Charity
You have stuff to get rid of, and you’re looking for different ways to give back. A yard sale for charity combines both of those scenarios into one do-good event.
All you have to do is organize a yard sale on your own or with your neighbors. Sell what you no longer need and donate the profits to a local charity.
8. Visit a Nursing Home
It might be hard to give back in this way at the start of 2021, as many senior communities have shut their doors in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Once things start opening, though, don’t forget the elderly in your community. Unfortunately, many people end up there because they have no family in the local area. They pine for human connection, which you can provide just by visiting.
Contact a nearby nursing home to see if they have any volunteer programs through which you can connect with residents. Even if you only have an hour or two each week, you can make a huge difference in the life of someone who feels lonely. And you’re sure to get something out of your weekly conversations with someone who knows so much after leading a long life.
9. Build a Home For Someone
Some volunteering jobs require you to get your hands dirty for a good cause. Habitat for Humanity is one of them. If you sign up to work on one of their projects, you will be physically building a low-cost home for a family in need.
You can usually find Habitat projects in your local area. Check out their website to see if you can enlist, especially if you have experience helming such hands-on projects.
10. Mentor a Local Child
We’ve already mentioned how your company can make a huge difference in the life of a senior citizen. The same can be said for local boys and girls in your local community who simply need a role model in their lives.
Organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America connect grown-ups like you with kids who need this kind of guidance. In turn, you hang out with your little one regularly, partaking in activities that boost their skills and self-confidence. Many of these relationships turn out to be connections for life, one that you’re sure to look at with great pride.
11. Coach — or Sponsor — Youth Sports
If working with kids is your forte and you happen to love sports, then you may also consider giving back by coaching youth sports.
Many community sports leagues can’t handle all of the kids and teens who want to participate because they don’t have enough volunteer coaches. And that’s a shame, considering all the good that sports do for children. They learn teamwork, responsibility and humility, and they get plenty of physical activity, too.
So, reach out to a community sports league to see if they’re in need of any youth coaches. It’s an enjoyable, rewarding way to donate your time.
If you can’t commit to coaching, though, you can still help kids who want to play sports. You can sponsor a local team so they have the supplies they need to play. It’s a great idea for businesses looking to give back, as the team will emblazon their uniforms with your logo — free advertising!
12. Clean Up the Community
Finally, you can give back to the place where you live all on your own. Grab a trash bag and a pair of latex gloves. You might want to grab a trash picker if you have one.
Then, walk around and clean up the litter left behind in your community. You’ll be shocked at just how much plastic you pick up along the way. And you’ll prevent all of it from clogging up waterways and choking out wildlife in the area.
If you want to make your community clean-up an even bigger deal, turn it into a group activity. You and your volunteer group can pull weeds, pick up trash, paint over graffiti to refresh your local park for everyone to enjoy.
So Many Ways to Give Back
These are 12 examples of the many, many ways to give back. You can donate your money or time – it doesn’t matter. Whatever you give will help, and that’s all that matters.
And don’t forget to check back with us for the latest must-know information.