New Year’s resolutions offer us a chance to take inventory and identify the areas of our life where we want to make a change. Resolutions tend to be personal: getting healthy, maintaining or building relationships, handling our finances, etc. But there is one resolution that can help in all areas of life: getting involved in your community!
Volunteering and giving back have a positive effect on your mental and physical health, help you build connections and strengthen your community. If you’re looking for ways to make a difference this year, here are some easy ways you can start.
If You’ve Got More Free Time
If you’re someone who likes to spend their weekends doing hands-on work, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities for you! Whether you enjoy physical activity, organizing books, or hanging out with animals, you can find a volunteer project that fits your skills.
Nearly 9 million seniors in America face the threat of hunger, and many live alone facing feelings of loneliness and isolation. By volunteering with Meals on Wheels (even on your lunch break!), you can help seniors in your neighborhood and bring them an extra source of joy.
2. Become an Entrepreneur for Social Good
Thinking of launching a start-up in 2020? More and more start-ups are being created with social impact in mind – with missions that tackle local and global issues such as alleviating hunger, improving access to quality education, building financial literacy and economic equality, and combatting climate change.
3. Make The Lorax Proud
Pitch in to help preserve America’s natural and cultural resources by volunteering at a state or national park! If you’re a history buff or a naturalist, or just love being in the great outdoors, you can explore opportunities to work at fascinating historical sites and public lands maintained by the National Park Service.
4. Move Your Body
There are races, walks and fun runs for almost every cause imaginable. Visit Active for lists of charity walks near you, or for local races. Mobile apps like Charity Miles also let you raise money for your favorite charity, giving back with every mile you run or walk.
5. Give Some Love to Animals in Need
Shelter animals need your support to feel loved while they wait for a forever home. You can volunteer with your animal shelter to play, walk, and bathe animals so they’re ready to be take in by a loving family!
6. Put Your Dewey Decimal Knowledge to The Test
Libraries typically need help organizing shelves and assisting patrons, and you may also be of help setting up and running public events, such as author signings and book fairs. Have some marketing skills? Ask your local library if you can help design flyers or copy edit ads, and put that experience on your resume!
7. Put Me In, Coach
After-school or summertime sport camps offer kids to the opportunity to have a lot of fun while learning important life skills. If you have a passion for a particular sport, become a coach to help kids nurture their skills and build confidence. Check your local government’s parks and recreation website to learn more about getting involved with youth sports leagues.
8. Everyone Needs A Mentor
Give your support through iCouldBe, an organization that connects public high school students with professionals in fields they are interested in. Your mentorship could help an at-risk student stay in school and eventually graduate.
9. Lend Your Skills to a Nonprofit Board
Sites like VolunteerMatch allows nonprofits to post openings for board positions, often based on areas of expertise like marketing, real estate development and more, so you can share your specific gift with those who need it.
If You Need A Little More Flexibility
Not everyone has a ton of free time to spare and that’s OK! There are plenty of ways to get involved if you’re busy with other things in your life – or even if you’re the couch and the couch is you.
10. Get the Vote Out
Voting in local and national elections is a great way to make sure you have a say in the laws and policies that affect your community – but there are some people who may need a little help. Whether you’re helping someone figure out how to register or you’re driving people to the polling station, helping others exercise their voting rights is an easy, quick way to ensure everyone’s voice can be heard.
11. But First, a Selfie
This year, save a little space in your social media to advocate for your favorite nonprofit or cause! If they’re having a fundraiser or need volunteers, you can do your part to get the word out. From Facebook fundraisers to online organizing, social networks can be a powerful tool in shining a light on the issues that matter most. If you volunteer, be sure to talk about it on social media. It’s a great way to get the word out about what you’re passionate about!
12. Financial Donation
When you review your budget for the upcoming year, keep in mind things that you are particularly passionate about – what organization or cause sets fire to your heart? Consider setting up a small monthly donation to support that cause over the course of a year.
13. Or Another Kind of Donation
Donation’s don’t have to be strictly financial. You can donate clothes, books, canned goods, and even your hair to various organizations. Contact your local nonprofits, food banks, and blood donor and see what they need.
14. Give an Animal a Home
Shelters are frequently overpopulated with homeless cats and dogs. Don’t have the ability to adopt? Consider fostering an animal from your local shelter, providing them temporary love and comfort until they find their forever home.
15. Collect and Give Box Tops
Box Tops can be found on hundreds of products inside grocery stores. Take the time to look at your groceries for any Box Tops, clip the ones you find and send them to your local school, where they will be collected and turned into cash to support the school.
16. Buy With Purpose
Create change through the places you shop – we call this purchase power! Take a moment to look into the places where you choose to spend your money; by supporting companies that promote and invest in the causes and ethical practices you share, you live your values and help make a difference in the world.
Encourage Others to Get Involved
You don’t have to be the most extroverted person in the room to encourage people to volunteer! Whether it’s friends, families or coworkers, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer together as groups. Teamwork makes the dream work!
17. If You Run A Business
Get your company to partner with a nonprofit or community organization! Studies show millennials are more focused on companies that provide opportunities to give back to the community. Work with your HR team or CSR division to select an organization that relates in some way to the mission and values of your company.
18. If You’re an Employee
Get your office involved in the green movement! Set up a recycling bin in different rooms, use coffee mugs instead of Styrofoam cups, or start your very own compost initiative. Come together with your coworkers to think of little things that can help conserve energy and make the office a little greener.
19. Volunteer With Your Family
Kids and teens have an exceptional view on the world, and often offer some of the most creative solutions. Engaging them in volunteer work is a great way to solve community problems in a unique way – while helping to foster important social and emotional competencies, like empathy and compassion, and develop key 21st-century skills like critical thinking and collaboration. generationOn, our youth and family division, provides DIY project ideas and toolkits to help you get started planning a volunteer activity with the family!
20. Host a Family-Friendly Project
Does your organization host family-friendly volunteer projects? Points of Light and Disney Parks celebrate family volunteerism by rewarding nonprofits and schools in the United States with Disney 1-Day Park Hopper tickets for engaging families in volunteer activities! Learn more about the Disney Family Volunteering Reward Program.
“No matter your schedule or time constraints, there are plenty of ways to get involved in 2020. Find what brings out your passion to make the world a better place! Ready to get started? Find volunteer opportunities in your community.
BONUS: If you’re feeling especially bold and want to travel to Japan this summer, you can volunteer at the 2020 Summer Olympics!