By Guest Blogger Emily, Butler, Fraternity Headquarters Intern
Summer is a great time to start a new volunteer project or get more involved in one. If you’re a student and not taking summer classes, most likely you have a more relaxed schedule during the summer months. What better way to fill some free time than with philanthropy?
If you’re spending the summer in a different city than you spend the school year, a volunteer project is an easy way to help feel connected to a new community. Some fun ideas for summer philanthropy projects include working with animal shelters, community gardens or city parks.
- Animal shelters: According to the Humane Society of the United States, animal shelters care for an estimated 6-8 million dogs and cats every year. Visit The Shelter Pet Project to find the closest shelter, or look in the phonebook under “animal shelter” or “humane society.” Many shelters use volunteers to play or exercise with shelter animals or to help with basic office work.
- Community gardens: Find a nearby community garden with the help of the American Community Garden Association. A community garden might need basic maintenance volunteers if it is already established. If there isn’t one nearby, the ACGA provides helpful tips for starting one.
- City parks: Visit your city or town’s parks department website and search for volunteer opportunities. Many parks need volunteers to preserve trails or open spaces, and many parks also offer classes or day camps that need volunteers, especially during the summer.
If you’re looking for something different, it’s easy to find new philanthropy opportunities in your area with volunteer matching and virtual volunteering websites.
- Volunteer Match allows you to search for local or virtual opportunities by interest area, like animals, arts, youth or the environment. You can also search specifically for group volunteer activities, which is great when looking for something you and a group of sisters or friends can do together!
- Sparked is a volunteer matching website that focuses on virtual volunteering opportunities. When users create an account, they list their interests and skills (like blogging, graphic design, legal, fundraising, etc.) and Sparked matches them up with projects requested by nonprofits. For instance, if one of your skills is graphic design, Sparked might suggest designing a new logo for a group that says it needs one.
- If none of these options look interesting, United We Serve makes it easy to start your own volunteer projects. Choose from a list of projects, like supporting a food bank or organizing a book drive, and the toolkits go through the step-by-step process specific to each cause. The toolkits present basic facts about the causes and advice to find support for each project.