4 Unconventional Ways to Serve

Sep 22, 2016

When you think about volunteering, there are some tried and true service projects that come to mind—things like repainting the local community center or doing some landscaping at a neighborhood park. While these types of projects are still out there (and just as important as always), many volunteers are looking to get involved in new ways that uniquely engage their skills and passions. For those looking to shake up their service projects, here are four unconventional approaches to service:

1. Assist Organizations into the Digital Age


Good news for tech-savvy volunteers: Your next service project could be on your computer or smartphone! Many nonprofit organizations could use help with their online presence, whether it’s updating their social media profiles, reworking their website, or troubleshooting their app. For tech professionals or digital enthusiasts with time to spare, this is a great opportunity to volunteer your skills. Check out the story of 48in48, in which 160 digital marketing professionals designed websites for 48 nonprofits in 48 hours.

2. Connect with Your Career


Many people make the mistake of thinking that volunteering has to be separate from their 9-to-5 job. However, companies are increasingly providing opportunities and initiatives for employees to do good through work by engaging with charitable causes in their community. By volunteering your expertise, you can help others through services like financial counseling or technical support. For help starting an employee volunteer program of your own, visit our collection of resources for employee volunteerism.

3. Look for Who’s Left Out


Many innovative nonprofits are founded on the basis of connecting people with opportunities they are otherwise excluded from. Groups like Goggles for Guppies, which was founded by two young swimmers to help inner-city youth gain access to swimming gear, or Shane’s Inspiration, which constructs accessible playgrounds for children with disabilities, arose from this mission of inclusivity. We all have things we love to do, and by making those activities accessible to other people, you can make a positive impact.

4. Reframe your Hobbies


In one sense, serving through your hobbies is quite conventional. We’ve all seen bake sales for charity, community murals, and musical performances in hospitals. However, there are many untapped hobbies that most people wouldn’t consider opportunities for service. Would you have guessed that hiking could be used as therapy for combat veterans? Or thought about using chess to fundraise for causes around the world? Think about how you can use what brings you joy to brighten someone else’s day.

Ready to get involved? Search for volunteer opportunities in your community at www.allforgood.org.

Robert Montgomery