Giving of one’s time can bring numerous benefits to both the individual and the community. Unfortunately, it can often be overlooked in favor of a quick donation or even dismissed entirely. However, volunteering can offer several advantages that can enhance one’s life in ways many may not have considered before. First and foremost, volunteering can give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It provides an opportunity to give back to your community and make a positive impact on people’s lives. A side effect of helping others is that these simple acts can also have a positive impact on your overall well-being. Moreover, volunteering can offer a break from your daily routine, allowing you to explore new experiences and meet new people.
There are many types of volunteer work that you can get involved in, from working at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter to participating in a beach clean-up or organizing a charity event. Volunteering can also take many forms, from one-time events to ongoing commitments. Whatever your interests and schedule, there is sure to be a volunteer opportunity that is right for you. National organizations offer many opportunities for volunteering, and are a great place to start as you familiarize yourself with local charities and causes. With that in mind, here are a few to consider:
This international nonprofit organization has been providing affordable housing solutions to families in need since 1976. They have built and repaired more than 1 million homes around the world. Habitat for Humanity relies on volunteers and partner families to build homes, and they also provide access to affordable mortgages to help people achieve homeownership. In addition to home construction, Habitat for Humanity offers disaster response and recovery programs, neighborhood revitalization projects, and advocacy efforts to promote policies that address housing affordability and availability.
One of the most well known and successful projects by Habitat for Humanity is the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. Initiated in 1984, this annual event traditionally involved former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, working alongside volunteers and future homeowners to build affordable homes for those in need. Over the years, the project has spanned multiple countries, constructing and repairing thousands of homes, raising awareness about the importance of affordable housing, and inspiring countless people to volunteer and support Habitat for Humanity’s mission.
New volunteers at Habitat for Humanity might start by assisting with home construction, such as framing, roofing, or painting. They may also help with organizing tools and supplies, cleaning up the worksite, or providing food and refreshments for the construction crew. Those with more experience, or those who gain it along the way, may be able to take on more high-priority tasks, such as electrical or plumbing work. For more information, visit Habitat.org.
This humanitarian organization has been serving communities in the United States and around the world for more than 140 years. The American Red Cross provides emergency assistance and disaster relief, as well as blood donation and training programs and other community services. In addition, Red Cross staff and volunteers continue to be deployed alongside members of the United States military.
The American Red Cross mobilized its most substantial relief effort to that point in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, providing shelter, food, and supplies to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the storm. The disaster was one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, and the organization played a crucial role in providing relief and support to the affected communities, taking on a significant role in coordinating volunteers and providing financial assistance to families in need. Public records show that over within 5 days of landfall the organization had set up over 90 kitchens, serving almost 1,000,000 meals a day. By the time the temporary kitchens were eventually removed, nearly 70,000,000 meals had been served.
New volunteers can get involved in a range of activities, from providing disaster response services to assisting with blood drives or helping with first aid and CPR lessons. As they gain experience, a volunteer may be able to take on more specialized roles, such as serving as a disaster response team leader or instructor for health and safety courses. For more information, visit RedCross.org.
This global conservation organization was founded in 1951 and is dedicated to protecting the planet’s biodiversity and natural habitats. The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 125 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers around the world.
One of the Nature Conservancy’s most expansive projects is the Great Bear Rainforest conservation effort in British Columbia, Canada. Spanning 21 million acres, it is one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests. The Nature Conservancy collaborated with indigenous communities, the Canadian government, and other partners to protect the region, which is home to numerous species, including grizzly bears, wolves, and the rare Spirit Bear. This landmark achievement showcases the organization’s commitment to preserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable land management practices.
New volunteers at the Nature Conservancy might start by participating in a local conservation project, such as restoring a river or protecting a natural habitat. They may also assist with data entry, outreach, or educational programs. The more familiar with the work one becomes, the more responsibility they may be given, such as serving on a scientific research team or leading expeditions to remote areas. Fore more information, visit Nature.org.
This national animal welfare organization focuses on ending the killing of dogs and cats in shelters by promoting adoption and spay/neuter initiatives. The Best Friends Animal Society “No-Kill” initiative is aimed at transforming animal shelters across the United States to have a no-kill policy, meaning a 90% or higher save rate for animals entering the shelter. The initiative, also launched in 1984, has had a significant impact on reducing the number of animals euthanized in shelters. By partnering with shelters, rescue groups, and other animal welfare organizations, Best Friends Animal Society has helped save millions of animals’ lives and is working towards its goal of making the United States a no-kill nation by 2025.
The Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary is home to approximately 1,600 animals, including dogs, cats, horses, pigs, birds, rabbits, and other animals, many of whom are rescued from shelters across the country. The sanctuary covers more than 3,700 acres and features state-of-the-art facilities, including veterinary clinics, animal housing, and animal care facilities. The Sanctuary is open to visitors and offers a variety of tours and volunteer opportunities. Visitors can learn about the animals, participate in animal care activities, and even stay on-site at the sanctuary’s cottages and cabins. The sanctuary also hosts educational events and workshops on animal welfare and advocacy.
New volunteers at Best Friends Animal Society might start by assisting with animal care, such as socializing with or walking dogs, or providing care for cats. They may also help with administrative tasks, such as data entry or answering phones. As they gain experience, they may be able to take on more specialized roles, such as assisting with adoption events or advocating for animal welfare policies. For more information, visit BestFriends.org.
Volunteering can provide many benefits to your life, including a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and personal growth. There are many types of volunteer work and national organizations to choose from, so find one that aligns with your interests and values and give it a try. By giving back to your community and making a positive impact on others, you may find your overall well-being improving as a side-effect of working to make a difference in the world.
Let everyone know what your favorite organizations and causes are in the comments below!