Types of Volunteer Opportunities: A Comprehensive Guide

Volunteering is an amazing way to give back to your community! This comprehensive guide will explore all types of volunteer opportunities available - from soup kitchens to permaculture projects - so you can make an immediate impact.

Types of Volunteer Opportunities: A Comprehensive Guide

Volunteering is an amazing way to give back to the community and make a difference in the world. There are numerous types of volunteer opportunities available, from soup kitchens to permaculture projects, from child care centers to environmental projects. Volunteers can also provide professional training or health and hygiene education, work with wildlife protection projects, help develop alternative sources of income for the community, promote artisanal weaver associations, or support online activism. In addition, volunteers can work on farms, join conservation projects, or become trustees of a charity.

This comprehensive guide will explore all of these types of volunteer opportunities in detail. Soup kitchens are always looking for volunteers to help serve food and cook meals. This type of volunteer opportunity is great for those who want to make an immediate impact in their community. Volunteers can also work with agricultural projects, such as permaculture projects or rural community agriculture. These projects often include local outreach, such as demonstration farms and educational workshops in schools that support a change in the way of thinking about agriculture throughout the community. Volunteers can also work with children in an orphanage or day care center, give teenagers private lessons in English or mathematics, or organize sports activities for at-risk youth.

The most effective child care centers are those that provide quality education that prepares children and young people for an economically viable future and that offer alternatives to the temptations of drugs and gangs. This broad category includes everything from installing solar panels in a health clinic or water collection systems in a school and training firefighters in emergency response to supporting the administration of microcredit programs. For those who prefer a tangible sign of progress, projects in the area of construction, from installing a better stove to building a house, can be especially satisfying. Volunteers can also provide educational programs ranging from helping out in elementary school to teaching English to adults to improve their job opportunities. Environmental projects can have volunteers working in an office preparing educational materials, creating trails outdoors (or recycling, collecting garbage or planting and caring for flora), or in schools or neighborhood centers that provide community outreach. In a context where putting food on the table is a more urgent need than caring for the environment for many families, volunteers should look for projects that combine community outreach and education with their efforts and know that their presence can help draw attention to an area that the local community may have overlooked in the past. Volunteers can choose between activities such as protecting baby turtles on their journey from the nest to the sea, supporting the rehabilitation of injured and trafficked animals, or restoring the natural habitats of endangered species. Not all wildlife protection projects allow volunteers to work with their animals; instead, the work may focus on cleaning cages, restoring natural habitats, or visually monitoring animal activity in the wild.

Programs that help develop alternative sources of income for the community are especially interesting, as they turn many “wildlife protection” projects into a combination of environment, education and community development. Volunteer opportunities that focus on women can include promoting artisanal weaver associations or supporting workshops on everything from civil rights to household finance. According to UN Women, “there is a direct link between increased female labor participation and growth, and World Bank studies show that women are more likely than men to spend their income on food and education for their children, making investment in women a fundamental part of development.”The state of the climate is a major concern among people who care about the environment, particularly younger generations. About 69% of members of Generation Z (adults born after 1999) are anxious about climate change. In addition, 37% of Generation Z and 33% of Millenials (born after 1988) say it is their “main personal concern” (Pew Research Center).

The interesting thing is that they want ways to address the problem both offline and online. Online activism, such as promoting on social media, signing petitions, or tracking carbon use, can be great ways to engage these younger generations. The popularity of health and wellness has increased the desire to consume fresh, local and organic food and to be connected to where the food comes from. Working on a farm can help relieve stress, making it one of the most popular types of volunteering. From joining a local gardening cooperative where volunteers share a gardening space to helping local farmers sell fresh fruits and vegetables through community-supported agriculture (CSA), volunteer opportunities abound for farm work.

Harvesting, farm-to-table processing, food distribution, nutrition and hunger-related activities all fit this pattern. The types of volunteering within the conservation space are diverse. They can include active participation such as helping with biodiversity inventory as well as more informal opportunities such as helping with design and monitoring geographic information systems (GIS). Permaculture is a holistic way of looking at our relationship with the earth; we can live in harmony in a property if we see our needs in concert with those of the natural world around us. The projects vary by geography but include integration of different agricultural techniques while protecting wildlife and native forests. Online volunteer programs are kind of a new-age trend.

With the introduction of the Internet and online workflow remote volunteer help has never been easier. Not to mention the marketing power that social networks and web development have over consumers (donors). Many charities are looking for people to support office work including fundraising and administration. This can be a great idea of how a charity works and your role could be very varied from helping draft funding proposals to communication and marketing tasks. Whether it's campaigns against climate change cleaning waterways or animals and plants that interest you there are a variety of environmental opportunities many unique opportunities with less commitment although there are more important student-led projects available. Becoming a trustee is an excellent position to include in your resume while offering advice and support to a charity that interests you.

Trustees' roles can range from advisory roles....