More than 62 million Americans donated a combined 7.8 billion volunteer hours in 2016, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. But the volunteer rate has been steadily declining for the past decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and only about 1 in 4 people volunteer at all.
Sometimes the hardest part of giving back is just getting started. But whether you’re worried about finding something that’s nearby, something that has a short time commitment, or something that interests you, there’s bound to be a way you can help.
If you’re looking for a way to volunteer in your community, here are 4 things you can do:
Search for Opportunities Online
Organizations all over the country post volunteer opportunities on JustServe, where you can search by location. Additionally, Volunteer Match and Catchafire organize opportunities based on your interests. And DoSomething filters based on the cause, the time you have available, and the type of volunteer work.
Volunteer websites are a great way to find the opportunity that best fits into your life.
Someone in the U.S. needs blood every 2 seconds. Don’t wait for a blood drive — find your local American Red Cross and set up an appointment to donate blood! It doesn’t take long, and you could save a life — or even multiple lives!
If you’re not eligible to donate blood, try helping out at a blood drive.
Keep Your Community Beautiful
Cleaning up a local trail or park takes very little equipment, no skill, and only as much time as you want it to. Additionally, it’s a very tangible way to give back — you’ll see the fruits of your labors immediately.
All you need to beautify your community is a trash bag, some disposable gloves, and maybe a few friends.
Donate the Things You’re Not Using
The average U.S. household has 300,000 items, according to a Los Angeles Times article. If you have more than you need, then figure out what you can spare and donate it.
Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or Deseret Industries are some great organizations that take donations. For example, Deseret Industries alone gives millions of pounds of items in humanitarian aid every year and provides training for thousands of employees. Some organizations will even pick up donations for free.
Your donation will not only keep your unwanted items from ending up in a landfill, but also help someone in need.