Traveling outside of the home to volunteer isn’t always possible for everyone due to mobility constraints, limited access to transportation, or a lack of nearby volunteer opportunities. Are you looking for a way to volunteer your time, but can’t leave your home or aren’t sure where to begin? There are all sorts of rewarding volunteer opportunities for homebound seniors and disabled individuals with varying skills, hobbies, personality, and talents. Why not turn your hobby into a volunteer opportunity? What are you good at? What was your past job? Are you fluent in another language? If you’re a good listener, enjoy spending time with children and teenagers, like to cook, know how to sew, or understand technology, there may be a volunteer opportunity for you!
The world is your oyster when searching online for volunteer opportunities that matter to you. Being a virtual volunteer means you can work over the internet from anywhere using a computer, tablet, or smartphone. There are thousands of organizations looking for virtual volunteers, including homeless shelters, animal shelters, community theaters, community gardens, communities of faith, nonprofit zoos, YM/YWCAs, local libraries, and scouting organizations.
As a virtual volunteer, you may write articles for a newsletter, moderate or facilitate an online discussion group, help with research, gather information, test an online tool, post to social media, answer emails, or input data. Most organizations have online opportunities. Contact an organization you’re interested in to inquire about virtual volunteer opportunities they may offer, or locate volunteer opportunities online through websites like VolunteerMatch, AllForGood, UN Volunteers, and Catchafire, where you can browse work-from-home opportunities with dozens of organizations.
Are you an expert in your field? Do you have compassion and an ability to listen? As an e-mentor, you can guide those with less experience or knowledge of a particular subject and help a child or adult make positive decisions about their future. People from all walks of life need guidance about failure, relationships, careers, self-improvement, and dealing with challenging situations. By communicating through online software or email, you can surprisingly make a big difference in someone’s life. If you’re interested in becoming an e-mentor, look into mentoring online with programs like iCouldBe or give free advice by signing up with Elder Wisdom Circle.
Hola! Sprechen sie Deutsch? If you’re bilingual, or multilingual, you can volunteer to translate text from one language to another. Whether you speak Spanish, French, Chinese, German, or another language, your foreign language skills can benefit an organization in need. Work-at-home translation opportunities can be found online. However, some organizations require that you have professional translation experience. If you’re unable to find a translator role online, look local. Many libraries and educational institutions need translation services and a phone call to them may land you in the right work-from-home role.
If working regularly from a computer doesn’t appeal to you, your telephone is another great tool to help you volunteer.
- Phone banking: Support your favorite organization and a worthy cause you believe in through phone banking. Phone bank volunteers typically work for an advocacy group or political organization and call a list of numbers to get the message out. For example, with an organization like the Humane Society, you would place phone calls that support their legislative priorities and ballot initiatives related to topics like wildlife protection, animal cruelty legislation, farm animal protection, and companion animal issues.
- 1-hour phone call: Do you know how to fill out a 990 EZ tax form or write a grant proposal? If you’re an expert in a particular subject matter, you can help organizations work through their questions during a one-hour phone call managed by Catchafire. You can also look into phone call volunteer opportunities with organizations in your community.
- Help Line: Provide non-judgmental emotional support and information to people in need over the phone or text. Although some programs require initial training before you’re allowed to take calls, programs like the Crisis Text Line and Headquarters Counseling Center make it a little easier to sign up.
Foster Grandparents are volunteers age 55 and older who provide one-on-one mentoring, tutoring, and support to at-risk youth in their communities. The program is administered through Senior Corps, a United States government agency under the authority of the Corporation for National & Community Service. In-home volunteering as a Foster Grandparent includes a special application process and requirements vary per state. If you’re interested in volunteering in your private home, you must develop a Letter of Agreement for in-home assignments describing and authorizing the volunteer activities. In home assignments of Foster Grandparents require planning by the sponsor and by volunteer station professional staff in cooperation with child and parent. Where a Foster Grandparent serves a child in home and within the context of the child’s family, volunteer activities must primarily and directly benefit the child.
If you’re talented in the arts and crafts or like the idea of contributing material goods to those in need, your talents and generosity can be deeply appreciated in many communities.
- Sewing & Quilting: Knit or crochet caps for cancer patients, afghans for homeless shelters, lap robes or “footie” slippers with non-skid pads for hospital patients, security blankets, or teddy bears for children in need. Contact your local nursing home, geriatric centers, or hospitals to find out how to make a donation, or reach out to medium to larger sized organizations like the American Red Cross and Warm Up America(WUA).
- Greeting Cards: Support our military community with cards and letters to offer support and encouragement. Create your own greeting cards to send to deployed military personnel, veterans, wounded warriors, those on the home front, caregivers, and military families. There are a number of existing organizations you can get involved with to help your cards get distributed.
- Pen Pals: Reach out to a local school and start a pen pal program with a class or look online to discover existing programs. Pen pal programs are often beneficial to youths seeking mentorship as well as to seniors in helping to reduce feelings of loneliness.
- Bulk Mailing: Assist non-profit companies with regular bulk mailings. Some organizations may deliver the boxes to be sorted and labeled – and then collect them later.
- Homeless care packages: Contact your local homeless shelter to learn if they have a system for distributing care packages and how you can contribute. Find out which types of items they recommend and accept, and consider including items in your care package such as a bottle of water, canned foods, Band-Aids, socks, sugarless gum, toiletries, and wet napkins.
Some state regulations make it difficult to donate homemade food to food banks, however there are other ways to give people a taste of your famous chocolate chip cookies. Contact local religious organizations, schools, and clubs about fundraising bake sales you can participate in – or host a food and/or fund drive in your own home. If cooking and baking isn’t for you, reach out to food banks about making a canned and dry food donation for pickup. Your family or caregiver may be able to help you find an organization as well.