Opportunities to volunteer from home are growing big time. Let me show you 27 ways to touch someone's life from the comfort of your couch, computer, or yard.
I was googling the other day “volunteer opportunities near me”, and got to thinking…what if I could volunteer from HOME? Wouldn't that be the nearest volunteer opportunity there is?
It turns out, there are tons of ways to volunteer from home, from doing at-home service projects, volunteer data entry from home, virtual volunteering, etc.
Do you love completing charity projects, but just not all that excited to leave your home to do so? Actually, it's a little counter-intuitive to think that you could complete a charity project in the comfort of your own home.
But I'm here to tell you that it's entirely possible to volunteer from home!
If you're looking for how to volunteer without leaving home, then you came to the right place. Here are 5 volunteer from home opportunities you can complete from the comfort of your couch.
How Do I Volunteer Virtually? At Home Service Projects
There are some really cool benefits to volunteering virtually. For starters, anyone with an internet connection and a laptop or desktop can do it! That means if you can't leave your home, or if you don't want to leave your home, you can still make a difference in other people's lives.
And, of course, we now know that volunteering and helping others can make a difference in our OWN lives. Aside from that “feel-good” moment of giving to others, studies show that our physical health improves and we live longer when we give to others.
Project #1: Bring Cheer to People with Illnesses
I'm huge on letter-writing. I think it's an art that is going extinct. I mean, think about it: how exciting is it to receive an actual letter when you open your mailbox?
Here's an opportunity to send smiles through snail mail:
- Girls Love Mail: Right now as I type this and as you read this, there are thousands of people battling cancer in centers and programs around the United States. Be part of the 2017 Miles of Mail campaign and help them collect 26,000 letters to send to women who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer. They could definitely use some positivity, the kind that comes from knowing a complete stranger cares about their struggles.
- Valentines for Veterans: You can send a valentine's day card plus $1 (for shipping and handling) to Soldiers' Angels' address in San Antonio, and they'll gladly spread the love to deployed troops overseas and VA Hospitals.
- Chemo Angel: Commit to sending a patient going through chemotherapy one card, note, or letter each week to help them through their difficult time.
- Love for the Elderly: Let's not forget our elderly who may not have family to visit them while they live in nursing homes. Send them a letter of encouragement and kindness through this kid-created organization.
Project #2: Contribute to People-Powered Research
Dying to semi-use that biology or environmental studies degree from college?
Zooniverse is an amazing platform for what's called People Powered Research (aka Citizen Scientists). Basically, there are a ton of environmental + animal projects scientists would love to collect data on and monitor throughout the world. But you know what? There just aren't enough resources to collect all the data, nor to do anything with the data once it's there.
Through many initiatives, you can both collect data from home, as well as help process it so that actions can be taken by the professionals.
At any point in time there are tons of projects (50+ at the moment) that you can take part in.
Some notable ones interesting to me are:
- Milky Way Project: Help to map out our galaxy. What this really means is sifting through hundreds and thousands of images from the from the Spitzer Space Telescope and WISE satellite observatory to do things like catalogue bubbles, bow shocks, and yellowballs (your guess is as good as mine). Go to “Learning the Ropes” to get some training before starting.
- Decoding the Civil War: Your mission is to digitize and transcribe the Union Army telegrams from The Thomas T. Eckert Papers to help bring this historical event alive.
- WildCam Gorongosa: Decades of war have decimated Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique's biodiversity. They'd like help in identifying animals in trail camera photos in order to help conservation efforts.
You can also help track the migration of birds through ebird. Store your sound recordings, birding observations, and more, making this information available to scientists, researchers, and other birders! Half a billion sightings have been recorded.
Also, check out Cyclone Center, and help meteorologists decipher partners in real cyclones through infrared satellite images. This can help scientists predict future cyclone behavior!
Project #3: Champion Military Families by Clipping Expired Coupons
My husband was in the military (Navy, cryptologist), and so we are both very aware of the not-so-great pay. While military families have lots of services to help them, they still need help to juggle all their financial obligations.
One way you can help is by clipping coupons and even expired coupons to send to military bases around the world. That's because coupons expired by up to 6 months can still be used on base grocery stores.
You'll want to follow the instructions on this page when completing this project.
Project #4: Advance Human Development through the United Nations Volunteer Programme (UNV)
The United Nations needs YOU to volunteer from home…and honestly, isn't that pretty exciting? (Hint: one of my two majors in college was International Studies, and I would have DEFINITELY signed up for this had I known about it).
Online volunteers will work on all sorts of projects, using skills like:
- Outreach and Advocacy
- Project Development and Management
- Technology Development
And the jobs sound AMAZINGLY purposeful. I browsed current listings, and found positions like editing a report on EU externalities policy, translating the 2019 Burundi Humanitarian Needs report from French to English, and writing content for UNICEF's website.
You even get an electronic certificate of appreciation for your volunteerism!
Project #5: Touch People's Lives by Talking Face-to-Face, Online
The webcam, Skype, and other platforms have made reaching out to others face-to-face a reality, from the comfort of your own home. Here's organizations you can use to volunteer using this technology.
- The Granny Cloud: Reach out to young children around the world who have limited access to educational resources, and teach them some of your wisdom! You can read to them, tell stories, do activities, and much more. The commitment is just an hour a week.
- School On Wheels: You can tutor kids online through this online tutoring program using collaboration tools like audio, video, and a shared whiteboard.
- iCouldBe: For one hour a week, you can mentor a high school student from low-income areas in your profession, career paths, and much more. They ask for an initial commitment of one school year.
- Table Wisdom: Help foreign-born students here in the U.S. improve their understanding of English by chatting with them through Table Wisdom.
Project #6: Click to Donate
Next time you're vegging out in front of the tube, wishing you could volunteer from home (in PJs, no less) take out your smart phone and get to work donating to a cause of your choice (for free, I might add).
This works because advertisers pay to display their ads on the site, then you go to the site and click (the click has nothing to do with the advertiser, fyi).
- Click to Donate Sites: There are tons of charities that get donations when you click on a button on their site, and here's a huge list of them. A couple of my favorites include The Hunger Site and the Rescue Animals site.
- Clicanimaux: Your clicks donate food and protection to stray animals in France (you'll need to translate the site).
- Even More Click to Donate Sites: You could bookmark this site and each day throughout 2012 click on the buttons to make a donation!
Other “free” ways to make donations that just take your time?
- Donate Your Frequent Flyer Miles: With American Airlines AAdvantage program you can donate to Operation Hero Miles or Miles for Kids in Need. If you earn points through United, Delta, or US Airways, you can donate reward points here for free airline tickets for cancer patients who need treatment. It takes 25,000 miles to donate one roundtrip ticket. Check into your own frequent flyer program to find charities they have partnered with. The Make A Wish Foundation accepts donations of frequent flyer miles from various companies, as well as hotel points from Starwood or Hyatt.
- Donate Credit Card Reward Points: Most credit cards that offer reward programs will also let you donate your points to charities. My personal credit card allows me to donate my reward points to the American Red Cross (International and Disaster Relief), as well as to purchase a particular gift card where I can donate to hundreds of different charities. The conversion rate for my credit card is about 10-15 points equals $1.
- Donate While Shopping: I’m not talking about going shopping at designer stores and spending money you don’t have to donate a percentage to an organization. Instead, I am talking about your weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly grocery shopping! For example, through The Kroger Community Rewards Program, you can print out a form that you take to your local Kroger's that will link a charity organization to your Kroger loyalty card, and that organization will get a percentage of money for one year just by you grocery shopping. There's also the Tom Thumb/Randalls Good Neighbor Program, and the Target Supports Education program. Online shopping aggregate sites such as we-care.com, Good Shop, and Earth Share allow you to shop at hundreds of places like Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, but a percentage of your sales will now be donated to a charity of your choice.
- Write What You Know: Do you know how to do something? Then write about it on Infobarrel and donate your ad proceeds to charity. You will need to sign up for an account with Infobarrel, as well as an account with Google Adsense (both are free). Next, link your google adsense unique ID to your Infobarrel site . Finally, write an article. To do this, click on the “create” tab, scroll down the page and choose a type of article to write. On the next page, click the “Charity” button. Now, 90% of your proceeds from this particular article will go towards a charity.
Project #7: Log your Walks
Okay, okay. I know I said “volunteer from home”, but this one doesn't have to be further than a block away.
We go for tons of walks in our household. It's one of the best ways to make our 16-month old happy, plus introduce him to the great outdoors. And I only recently figured out that I could download an app, CharityMiles.org, and log my miles for donations to Wounded Warrior (among other charities you can choose from). I've been doing so every since (huge thanks to my husband, Paul, for setting it up for me in about three minutes! It's part of the way I've found to get paid to walk).
Here's a way to log your own miles for donation dollars to your favorite animal shelters:
- WoofTrax: Volunteer from home by walking your dog! Download the Walk for a Dog app, then each time you walk your dog click the “start walking” button. Your miles are logged and turn into donations for animal shelters around the U.S. Available on both Android as well as iPhone.
- ResqWalk: At the beginning of every month this site announces a new amount of cash available from their ResQsponsors they've got. If you want it for your fave organization, then download the app, select a ResQpartner and press start. Your walking, running or biking counts, “as long as the activity can be measured by GPS and involves a speed of less than 14 mph.” By the end of the month the dough is divided proportionally to the charities based on the number of miles logged in their name. There are also bonus challenges throughout the month that result in donations of things like pet toys + treats.
Other Ways to Help From Home
Maybe you haven't found the opportunity for you. Don't let the ideas above limit you when brainstorming ways to help from home.
How about the idea of being a good neighbor, a good family member, and a good friend?
Let me explain how my own family does this, through what I like to call my family's circle of savings.
You see — my family has this really cool thing going on where we all give to one another, according to the free or cheap resources we've individually gotten.
For example, when my family came to visit me for the day when I lived in Chestertown, MD, I was greeted with a five-pound plastic bag of raw chicken my mother happily slapped against my back as she hugged me (she is stellar at loading up her freezer during the annual chicken sale at the local Amish grocery market).
My grandmother rolled down the car window, and pushed a Tide stain remover pen into my hand before giving me a kiss on the cheek.
My sister had made cucumber and onion salad and asked that I return her container when I next came to PA.
Every year when I go home for Christmas, I am like a FedEx or UPS Woman going from household to household and moving things around. I start off at my mother’s, who needs a pan returned to my grandmother’s. She includes a plastic bag of leftover stuffed cabbage from a big batch of our family’s Hungarian recipe.
When I reach mom-mom’s house, she has several coupon inserts and a plant to give to my sister. Then I get to my sister’s home, who has free samples and a DVD for my mother.
The cycle is never-ending, and even though I live so far away, I carry out my end of the bargain as well.
Since I play the drugstore game, I always have plenty of leftover goodies that I purchase very cheaply. I have taken it upon myself to personally stock up my grandparents with a lot of their toiletry needs once a year because they live on a fixed income. I either tote all of these things up in my suitcase around Christmastime, or I mail them using a flat rate box at the USPS.
Since my grandmother and mother have come down to visit in the fall every year for the last two years, I've even saved on shipping and stashed the goods in their suitcase (they fly Southwest, so no baggage fees). It’s such a great feeling knowing that I am saving others money!
So, do you have your own family circle of savings you can start up to help others around you?
What charity project from above can you squeeze into your routine at home? I'd love to hear in the comments below the volunteer from home opportunity you're MOST excited about.