When we give of ourselves through volunteer opportunities, the gifts we provide are often returned and multiplied.

Volunteer working with an elderly man.One of the best ways to improve our communities is through volunteer work. It is estimated that 140 million people volunteer worldwide, according to a report from United Nations Volunteers.* Volunteers work in every nation, and in a variety of settings. What does this mean for you? You don’t have to go far to start effecting social change. There are plenty of community service opportunities waiting for you—wherever you are.

What are the benefits of volunteering?

Whether you are a full-time student at a campus-based university or earning your degree online while balancing work and family priorities, there are many reasons to embrace your local volunteer opportunities. Not only can you help make others’ lives better, but you can improve your own too.

How? Forbes reports that research has shown volunteering can greatly benefit the volunteer. These benefits include an increased sense of productivity, the development of new skills, résumé-building experience, improved physical health, and the emotional rewards that come with others appreciating you and your efforts.

What are some community service ideas that might work for me?

There are plenty of volunteer opportunities in every community. Here are 10 great ways you can provide community service and effect social change.

  1. Serve seniors in your community. From volunteering at a nursing home to participating in Meals on Wheels to simply helping an elderly shopper at the grocery store, helping the generations who were once the ones to give of their own time and energy is a vital part of the social contract.

  2. Mentor a child or teen. Children from all walks of life need adults who can help guide them in everything from the completion of homework to major life choices like applying to college. Whether you volunteer at a children’s home or a public school or participate in a youth organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters, helping children is a rewarding personal social change mission.

  3. Help the homeless Homelessness is a worldwide problem. Help those in need by volunteering at shelters and soup kitchens. The organizations that provide these services need volunteers with skills ranging from manual labor to clerical work to community outreach and more.

  4. Clean your community. Litter and graffiti lower the quality of life for everyone in a community. You can join organizations committed to keeping areas clean, or organize your own efforts with friends and neighbors. Even just picking up trash when you see it is a valuable community service.

  5. Make holidays special. The holidays can be difficult on those who have little—if anything—to spare. You can help add some cheer by volunteering with organizations that conduct food and toy drives. Many people donate to such drives—but these initiatives also need people to give their time to logistics, like collecting, organizing, wrapping, and distributing donated items.

  6. Share your talents. What are you good at? Project management? Writing? Design? Accounting? Do you know how to sew? Can you teach or tutor in a language? For every skill and ability, there’s likely to be a volunteer organization that could use your talents to support their mission.

  7. Help the sick. From hospice centers to community clinics to organizations like the Red Cross, there are a lot of groups who care for the sick and disabled. Whether you have medical experience or not, there are many people who could use your care—even volunteering to run errands or driving individuals to appointments helps improve lives.

  8. Build a home. Habitat for Humanity® and similar organizations have improved lives across the world. Not only is helping build a home incredibly fulfilling, you’ll come away with skills you can use for the rest of your life.

  9. Coach a team. Athletics is a vital part of many communities, but many places are desperate for adults who are willing to coach children and teach them the value of teamwork, good sportsmanship, and staying motivated after a loss. Various sports leagues also need volunteer referees, organizational staff, and concession workers.

  10. Organize a fund-raiser. Every community service organization needs monetary donations, but you don’t have to open your wallet to make a difference. You can volunteer by organizing a fund-raiser for your preferred organization. By putting together a charitable raffle, walkathon, race, or other community event, you can make an impact by donating something just as valuable as money: your time.

How do I find volunteer work near me?

Most local community centers post a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. You can simply search online, or call one of your of local community service organizations and ask them how you can help.

Walden University is an accredited institution with a commitment to social change. With more than 80 online degree programs offered in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life, you’ll have the opportunity to apply what you learn in the classroom to the real world, and make a difference in your life and your community. Discover how Walden students and alumni are changing the world for the better.


*United Nations Volunteers, State of the World’s Volunteerism Report, “Chapter 2: Taking the measure of volunteering,” on the Internet at www.unv.org/fileadmin/docdb/pdf/2011/SWVR/English/SWVR2011_full_%5B05%5D_chapter2.pdf.

Forbes, “Five Surprising Benefits of Volunteering,” on the Internet at www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2015/03/19/5-surprising-benefits-of-volunteering/3/

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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