Whether you want to make a difference in your community, showcase your talents, develop new skills or meet new people, volunteering provides many benefits. Some studies have even shown that people who are involved in volunteer activities live longer, suffer less from depression and are less stressed!1
Here are some ways you can donate your time, even from home.
1. Volunteer your skills online
Skills-based volunteering is about sharing your talents or professional knowledge with organizations or people in need. Whether it's helping with a budget or income tax return, spending time drafting or revising documents, or even providing consulting services in your area of expertise, all these ways of helping can make a huge difference.
There are many ways to volunteer your skills online. You can join the board of an organization, for example, or contact organizations in your community whose mission is relevant to you to offer your services. In Quebec, there are organizations, such as Bénévoles d’Expertise and the Volunteer Bureau of Montreal, whose mission is to offer management and governance support services to non-profit organizations.
2. Ask about the needs of organizations close to home
A simple way to help organizations in your community is to simply contact them and ask if they have specific needs. Whether it's doing administrative work, making phone calls or participating in online fundraising, organizations often have many needs that can be met remotely.
3. Provide virtual homework help
If the success and academic perseverance of young people in your community are meaningful to you, you should know that several organizations specialize in homework help. These organizations will usually match you with a student who needs help in a subject in which you're comfortable, such as language, math, science, etc. Depending on your availability, homework help meetings can take place face-to-face or virtually via a videoconference platform.
To find a homework help organization, simply search the Internet or contact the schools in your area.
4. Making friendship phone calls or write friendship letters
Friendship phone calls and letters are intended to break the isolation of someone who is feeling lonely. This type of volunteering can be done with elderly people or people who are vulnerable.
Thanks to these calls and letters, the beneficiaries have the opportunity to develop a relationship of listening, mutual support and significant sharing in their lives. What a great way to make a difference in someone’s life!
5. Donate clothing or household items
To offer a helping hand to organizations in your community, you can also offer them clothing, furniture or other useful material goods for their users. Soup kitchens, resource centres or crisis centres are but a few examples of organizations that might be happy to receive this kind of material donation. Find out if these organizations have a drop-off location near your home or a home pick-up service.
For animal lovers, some shelters even offer to provide them, via an online purchasing platform, food and supplies to help them take care of their four-legged friends.
6. Become a Mentor
Many universities and educational institutions offer their students a mentorship program to provide them with the opportunity to interact (by e-mail, telephone, videoconference or face-to-face) with professionals in the field in which they wish to work.
Mentors are invited to share their career path with graduates, answer their questions, and offer advice on entering the workforce. This is an enriching experience for anyone who is committed to the success of future professionals!
7. Make a donation online
You don't have the time to volunteer, but your budget still allows you to help? Most charities now have online donation platforms, making fundraising that much easier. Simply visit the website of the organization to which you would like to donate and follow their online donation process.
To find charities close to home
Beyond simply searching for charities using search engines, there are several online platforms available to help you find organizations and volunteer opportunities close to home.
Here are some Canadian resources:Jebenevole.ca
Réseau de l’action bénévole du Québec
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada
Fédération des centres d’action bénévole du Québec
A to Z Volunteering
If you would like more tips on how to prepare for volunteering, read our article The importance of contributing to your community.
1 Luks, A., and Payne, P. (1992). The healing power of doing good: the health and spiritual benefits of helping others. New York: Fawcett Columbine.