Today marks the start of National Volunteer Week. Throughout the week, people of all ages will come together to give back to help people and organizations in their communities and around the world. From April 23 – 29, you can give your time, your expertise, your passion and your heart to the causes and organizations most important to you, your family and your community. And, you can lay the groundwork for volunteer efforts that can take place throughout the year.
Getting started with volunteering in your community can be a bit daunting, and it may be hard to know exactly how to get started. But, with government funding getting cut (or seeming to be threatened to get cut) to so many important social services, arts and cultural organizations, and other entities, the need is high for our time and support – now and throughout the year.
Before finding an organization or existing volunteer project to support, it’s helpful to start by determining what you’re most passionate about – whether it be a cause or an organization. For me, I find it easier to motivate myself to give back when my efforts are fueled by my passion. And, I know it’s easier to recruit my husband and sons to join with me when the get inspired by my commitment to the cause!
With your passion firmly in place, it’s time to plan your own volunteer project – and recruit your family, friends and others to join you.
Here are seven resources you can use to find, plan and get inspired to participate in volunteer projects during National Volunteer Week and throughout the year:
1. Do Something: Billed as a “global movement for good,” Do Something helps youth make a positive change online and IRL (in real life). At DoSomething.org, you can explore existing campaigns to support. Or, you can find one to lend a helping hand by choosing a cause you’re most passionate about, the amount of time you have to volunteer, and the type of support you’d like to provide (e.g., donate something, face to face, make something, etc.).
2. VolunteerMatch: VolunteerMatch is an online resource you can use to search for existing volunteer activities happening right in your hometown. To use VolunteerMatch, visit VolunteerMatch.org, enter your zip code and then provide a keyword that specifies the type of project you’d like to support.
3. Idealist: Idealist helps connect idealists (“people who want to do good”) with opportunities for for them to support. In doing so, the organization aims to make sure “no opportunity for action or collaboration is missed or wasted.” At Idealist.org, you can find volunteer opportunities to support by searching by a keyword, skill or interest, and your location.
4. Doing Good Together: The purpose of Doing Good Together is simple – to empower families to raise caring, engaged children by offering unique programs and events, valuable services, and fun activities that promote kindness and giving. At DoingGoodTogether.org, you can choose to donate or volunteer – plus also subscribe for regular information to guide your efforts to cultivate children who care about, and are committed to, giving back. At this time, Doing Good Together, offers a listing of volunteer activities in six cities across the U.S.: Baltimore, Boston, New York City, Seattle, Silicon Valley, and the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul). For those of use who don’t live in those cities, the organization offers helpful tips on how to serve others in your area – no matter where you live.
5. The Honeycomb Project: Being in Chicago, I need to give a shout out to The Honeycomb Project, which engages and inspires kids and families to strengthen Chicago communities through public service. At TheHoneyCombProject.org, you can search the calendar of events for a listing of volunteer projects to support. Registration for volunteer events opens on the 15th of the month prior to the event – so make sure to check the website on a monthly basis.
6. AllForGood.org: Made possible by Points of Light, AllForGood.org enables people to find and share “ways to do good.” On the website, you can search by keyword or area of interest and your zip code to find volunteer projects to support. You also can scroll down to the bottom of the homepage to find local volunteer opportunities by city.
7. WE Charity: WE Charity is a Canadian-based organization that brings people together and gives them the tools to change the world. Its WE Families program gives parents the support they need to "raise caring and compassionate children and set them on a path for life success." At WE.org, you can find helpful resources to use in joining with your family to take action that will impact your community - our others around the world. On the website, you also can purchase a WE Families Kit full of activities and inspiration to enjoy with your family. As an added bonus, your purchase of the kit provides a life-changing gift to a child or family in WE Charity's partner communities.
Do you volunteer in your community? What causes and organizations do you support? Do you plan to lead or join a volunteer project during National Volunteer Week? Share your volunteer plans and stories in the comments below.