People are looking for a sense of purpose at work — and volunteering is a great way to find it. A volunteer program builds connections between employees, their communities and the causes they care about. It’s proven to increase employee engagement and studies show that volunteers experience benefits to their physical and mental health.
Here are 25 volunteering ideas that will inspire your employees to participate and help to build a purpose-driven company culture people want to be part of.
1. Support Acts of Goodness. Encourage your people to track volunteer time for random acts of kindness — like picking up groceries for a neighbour or buying coffee for someone experiencing homelessness.
2. Pen a letter to an elder. Many seniors suffer from loneliness. You can be the reason they smile by sending a kind note or letter through an organization like Love for Our Elders.
3. Prepare care packages for seniors in a nursing home. Not every senior has loved ones close by. Make them feel seen and special. Check out organizations like DOROT or Seniors Secret Service.
4. Write letters to children at your local hospital. Hospitalized children need a healthy dose of hope. Send them inspiring messages to brighten their days.
5. Send cards to refugees. Many refugees are faced with hardships as they struggle to rebuild their lives. Show them that people are thinking of them. Check out CARE or Any Refugee to get started.
6. Meet a nonprofit. If your company has a relationship with a nonprofit, invite them to host an info session so your people can learn about their work. Tracking this time as volunteering will incentivize your people and might just inspire them to give their time or money directly.
7. Volunteer to learn. More companies are encouraging their people to attend training on important topics like diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging by counting the time they invest as volunteer hours. Invite a leader from one of your employee resource groups (ERGs) to host a session.
8. Start with small actions. Micro-actions help your people take small steps that add up to big impact. Tracking these actions as volunteer time encourages your people to make sustainable changes in their everyday lives. Learn how TC Energy rallied their employees to complete 4,000 micro-actions during their holiday campaign.
9. Clean up your community. Grab some trash bags, gloves (and your team!) and head over to a local park or beach. During its annual Homecoming reunion, Benevity split hundreds of employees into small clean-up crews who hit the streets of downtown Calgary and filled countless bags with garbage. Organizations like Shoreline Cleanup make it easy to get together and clean up your local area.
10. Host a bingo night at a nursing home or shelter. Now here’s a winning idea! Add a little fun and excitement with a game everyone can play. You can even engage some residents to be Bingo callers.
11. Make birthday bags. Help make someone’s birthday extra special. Assemble a bag full of kids’ birthday supplies: balloons, candles, cake mix and decorations for a local shelter or food bank.
12. Schedule a shift at a local food bank or soup kitchen. Fight hunger on the front lines by prepping and serving up meals to those in need.
13. Make bagged lunches for the unhoused. Gather colleagues to assemble nutritious bagged lunches. They can be dropped off at a shelter or distributed directly to the unhoused residents of your community.
14. Hold a clothing drive. Keep gently used clothing out of landfills by inviting your people to bring in unwanted items from their closets. Donate clothes to your local shelter or an organization like Dress for Success.
15. Join in on community projects. Ask your local government if they need volunteers for projects around the community; it’s a great way to make a difference that’s close to home.
16. Build hygiene kits. Collect unused samples from home or a dollar store to fill kits with soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, combs, etc. Give them to a shelter or donate directly to organizations like Beauty Bus Foundation, which provides beauty services for seriously ill individuals and their caregivers.
17. Help animals. Animal shelters are always looking for volunteers and/or supplies like toys, blankets, pet food, etc. Connect with local shelters or rescue organizations to see how your people can help. Our animals activation kit gives you pre-written content to get started.
18. Organize a food drive. Start by reaching out to your local food bank to see which items they need most. Have employees bring in the requested items and plan a day to drop them off.
19. Sort food at a food bank. Organizing and sorting donations is a big job. Check with your local food bank to organize a time for your people to help. Check out our food banks activation kit for pre-written templates that can help you set this up.
20. Explore skills-based volunteering. Your skills could be incredibly useful to a nonprofit that’s lacking resources. From writing website copy to bookkeeping, lending your skills to longer term projects could make a big impact. Learn how Atlassian’s skills-based volunteering program delivered meaningful impact to 50 cause partners.
21. Become a youth mentor. Everyone needs someone to look up to, and you could be that person for a young adult. To organize a youth mentorship program at your workplace, check out our youth mentorship activation kit.
22. Help the visually impaired. You can help low-vision or blind people lead more independent lives with apps like Be My Eyes.
23. Translate for TED. TED Translators are a global community of volunteers who subtitle TED Talks, enabling inspiring ideas to travel across languages and borders. Consider allowing your people to track their time for this initiative.
24. Help disaster relief workers respond, fast. Humanitarian workers require quick access to vital information during disasters. Volunteering with Humanitarian Data Exchange to collect and input essential information into databases enables rescuers to access the information they need to respond quickly.
25. Join an animal conservation effort. ZSL’s Instant Wild empowers volunteers to take part in vital conservation work by bringing them live images and videos from amazing locations all around the world for identification.
Use these ideas to plan campaigns that get your people inspired and energized to give their time this National Volunteer Week — and throughout the year.
If you’re looking for more ideas for National Volunteer Week, check out our National Volunteer Week activation kit, loaded with ready-to-go content and communication templates.