Volunteering through community service projects is one of the most rewarding experiences you can take part in. Putting your skills and time to use has great personal benefit, including improved health, mood and sense of purpose.
For the community where you’re volunteering there are positive benefits too, with volunteer efforts adding up to create stronger neighborhoods that have a greater sense of community pride and connection. The best part is, all these benefits can be undertaken in your local community or you can choose to support a community abroad.
The difficult part can be finding the right volunteer activities and community service projects that suit your skills. We have 10+ years of volunteer experience and we’re here to help guide you to the 15 best community service projects that are perfect for college students, high school students, families and adults.
What is community service?
A quick Google search of community service comes back with the result: voluntary work intended to help people in a particular area. The best part about that definition is you can choose the area you want to help! Here at IVHQ, our strength is connecting well-meaning volunteers with responsible volunteer work in 40+ countries around the world. We allow volunteers to take their skills abroad and support a community through service projects that have a positive impact on people. That isn’t to say that for you, community service can’t be down at your local school, sports club or church. Volunteering locally is the best stepping stone to volunteering internationally.
Who can take part in community service work?
There really are no boundaries when it comes to volunteer activities and the impact you can have in a community. There are volunteer opportunities for all ages and your efforts can be hands-on or office based. Or, you can choose to give back for short durations or make a year-long commitment.
Different types of volunteer work can be better suited to different types of people. Volunteers can often fall into the following categories:
Keep in mind, there are no standard boxes when it comes to volunteering. It’s about finding what’s right for you. In saying that, certain types of volunteers can share similar motivations which can be helpful when you’re trying to find the right volunteer activity for you.
Typically for students, there is a desire to find purpose in the world and gain practical experience on the things we have learned. As adults we have acquired a wealth of knowledge and skills, so we look to find avenues where we can put this to use. In a family unit, we look for ways to use teamwork to effect change and form closer relationships.
No matter your age, there is a volunteer activity that requires your time and skills.
Why is community service so important?
So we’ve established that community service is intended to help people in a particular area, but the critical piece to all of this is why it is so important.
Regardless of whether you’re volunteering within your local community or abroad, volunteering is the glue that holds communities together. How many of us have parents that volunteer their time and skills down at their local church, or relatives that coach kids at the local YMCA, or brothers and sisters that have volunteered abroad building community centers?
The point is, community service happens around us all the time, sometimes without the recognition it deserves, but the benefits to individuals and the community are echoed for years to come. It’s the backbone of what makes stronger and more connected communities.
How you can take part in community service work
Opportunities come to us in many different shapes and forms. This is especially true for community service projects. It can be a compulsory part of our college degree, you might have family members that have deep connections to community organizations or you just have a burning desire to do good in the world and learn about yourself along the way.
We have a few easy steps you can follow to either gauge your interest in supporting a local initiative or volunteering with a community abroad. Find the level of commitment appropriate for you and start volunteering:
Take time to focus on your skills and time availability
- Volunteering is a passion project that requires your best work and time. Take the time to discover your closest passions and establish the amount of time you’re willing to dedicate to this. Then you will have an understanding of organizations that will match with your motivations.
Talk to family and friends
- As we’ve covered, volunteering isn’t a new concept, so you probably already know someone who has volunteered their time and skills before. Quiz them on the organizations they did community work through and understand the benefits they gained from it. They will be a helpful resource for your future plans.
Research online and offline
- The internet is a marvelous tool and one that has connected over 132,000 individuals just like you to communities abroad through IVHQ. A simple Google search can reveal hundreds, if not thousands of local and international community service opportunities that might suit you. Since you’ve taken the time earlier to discover your skill set and time commitment, this process shouldn’t be too difficult to sift through your options. If all else fails, get out on the streets and talk to local organizations in your area, understand their struggles and where your volunteer efforts could be needed. This is the first step in making your volunteer dreams a reality.
Make a commitment
- Once you’ve done your research and understand where your time and skills are needed most, it’s time to take the leap and get stuck into some volunteer work! Depending on the path you’ve decided to take, this commitment could be 1 day a week at your local community center or 2 weeks in a community abroad.
So what could you do? Here are 15 community service projects you should consider taking part in - whether that’s in your local community or abroad
In our experience, these are the best volunteer activities which volunteers of all ages can take part in:
- Medical and Healthcare
- Animal Care
- Arts and Music
- NGO Support
- Refugee Support
- Women’s Empowerment
- Marine Conservation
- Community Development
- Elderly Care
- Special Needs Care
While it does depend on the community you’re supporting, childcare is often in demand. Whether it’s formal school style care or informal games at a local community center. If you were to volunteer abroad some of the tasks required of IVHQ volunteers working in childcare centers is structured and required on a daily basis, such as teaching, cleaning and cooking. However, there are many occasions where you would s need to show initiative to ensure the children are occupied and learning, while having fun.
Childcare volunteer activity ideas
- Help children with arts and crafts at a local community center
- Teach basic English in a Nairobi community
- Work with Big Brothers Big Sisters and spend time with a little each week
- Help children to learn sports at your nearest community center or sports club
- Babysit for friends and family (your local neighbourhood even)
Teaching is a community service project that really opens up doorways to a whole world of opportunity for you and those receiving your volunteer support. Sometimes there can be a shortage of teachers ers within local communities abroad, which is why heading overseas to teach a foreign language is so popular and in high demand. These community projects are perfect for college students in training and adults that are qualified teachers.
Teaching volunteer activity ideas
- Teaching English to children and adults in Guatemala
- Teach elderly new technologies at senior centers within your community
- Teach math to school children that require additional support at your local community college
- Help children with their spelling at an after school tuition center
Medical and Healthcare
Medical volunteering has a stronger presence as a community service project abroad. This is commonly due to the fact that healthcare can be less accessible in certain parts of the world, however, medical students and certified professionals can still give back in their own communities under the right organizations.
Medical activity ideas
- Medical volunteering within local hospitals in Cusco - Peru
- Working with your local hospital to provide community immunizations
- Supporting a local health clinic with basic administrative tasks
Some of us don’t need to be told twice that you can volunteer your time with animals. Whether you love dogs more than cats, or birds more than rats, there are plenty of animals in your local community and communities abroad that could sure use some of your TLC.
Animal care activity ideas
- Help support animal rights in Mexico
- Work at your local animal shelter and care for cats and dogs
- Connect with the SPCA on one of their donation drives
The environment we live in sure is a big and beautiful one, so there is no shortage of work that can be done to maintain that beauty, or better yet, enhance it! You’ll only need to step out your front door to discover some form of environmental work that can take place and if you’re feeling more intrepid, communities abroad are just eager to receive your time and skills.
Environment activity ideas
- Forest conservation through data research in madagascar
- Do rubbish pick up on your local streets on a set schedule
- Volunteer with your local council to preserve local parks and walks
- Help with environmental sustainability in New Orleans
You don’t have to have a degree in engineering or be a qualified builder to volunteer in construction based tasks. Depending on your own skills (those qualifications might just come in handy now) local communities and communities abroad are constantly on the lookout for able bodies that can give their time to ongoing projects.
Construction activity ideas
- Help provide neighborhood revitalization in New Orleans
- Work with local community initiatives that construct local gardens
- Reach out to your local Habitat for Humanity for work
- Provide hands on work with construction in Nepal
Arts and Music
Expressing oneself through arts and music is a pastime that everyone should be able to enjoy. Thankful, through the efforts of volunteer work, you can bring this joy to your own community or take the cultural learnings even further by sharing this with a community abroad.
Arts and music activity ideas
- Give music lessons to children in your neighborhood
- Assist with arts and culture preservation in New Orleans
- Help facilitate a school play within your local community
- Take part in Carnaval preparation in Brazil
Upskill your sporting passions by taking part in community focused work that provides transformative outcomes for others. Whether you’re coaching a local sports team or helping to introduce a new sport to a community abroad, there are so many options on offer.
Sport activity ideas
- Coach soccer in morocco to school children
- Head to your local basketball courts and coach youth in the community
- Work with local sports clubs that need administration support and governance
- Help children to learn to surf in South Africa
NGOs are a key component to any community. Their reach and value is often deeper than we expect and this is often done with limited budget and resources. NGOs in your community and communities abroad are screaming out for your volunteer efforts. Whether it is hands on work or office based, there is no shortage of activities you can take part in.
NGO support activity ideas
- Head to your local YMCA and offer your time to help raise funds
- Help an NGO in Ecuador with their governance and fundraising
- Volunteer at your local Feeding America to help provide meals in your community
- Use your own initiative to facilitate the UN Development Goals
When we think of refugee support we often conjure up thoughts of communities that we constantly see in the news. The truth is in the increasingly global world that we live in, refugees are transitioning into communities all around us. They require your support through new friendships and valued donations, all of which you can provide at home and abroad!
Refugee support activity ideas
- Provide assistance through monthly donations in the USA
- Help refugees transition into a new community via sports in Rome
- Work with your local city council to find individuals in your community that need support
Empowering women in your local community and communities abroad has become a task we can all achieve through face to face work or digital means. Depending on the time you can commit, you can provide meaningful support to women’s empowerment through teaching new skills or providing mentorship.
Women’s empowerment activity ideas
- Get along to your local community and teach a class yoga class
- Help educate through English teaching in India
- Mentor high school students with their career goals in your local community
Depending on your location, marine conversation might not be possible in your local community. Luckily, this type of volunteer activity can be facilitated in communities abroad or through supporting national initiatives. If you’re fortunate enough to live close to the ocean, there is no shortage of ways to get involved!
Marine conservation activity ideas
- Give your efforts to a beach clean up in your local community
- Help with turtle conservation in Costa Rica
- Educate school children in your local community about marine awareness
- Keep New Zealand green through coastal and waterway conservation
Community development is at the heart of all volunteer efforts and. Each community faces its own problems - the one you live in will have its own unique challenges just as say a community in Puerto Rico will. That’s why our skills and time commitments can have great benefit in our local community or a community abroad.
Community activity ideas
- Hold a financial literacy course at your local community center
- Help lead community change in Puerto Rico through business mentorship
- Set up a local community group focused on keeping everyone physically active
- Offer your support to a local homeless shelter
Working with the elderly is a super rewarding experience that provides mutual benefit through knowledge sharing and companionship. In your local community and communities abroad, there are endless options for volunteer activities these can be with friends or families, or with complete strangers who speak a different language!
Elderly care activity ideas
- Give your time at your local community center playing games with elderly
- Help elderly in Argentina with arts and crafts work
- Donate to an organization doing positive work in communities
Special Needs Care
Working in special needs care isn’t for everyone. It can require a certain individual or someone who is training to work in the field. With that being said, there are a lot of volunteer opportunities out there within local communities and communities abroad. Depending on your qualifications, you can have a great impact through face-to-face work.
Special needs care activity ideas
- Work with a local hospital or clinic that require additional support
- Support in rehabilitation services for individuals in Vietnam
- Offer your time at your local school to support students with special needs
There is no shortage of volunteer activities that can have a positive impact in your own community and communities abroad. The most important part is to not wait around for a volunteer opportunity to fall into your lap, get out there and make things happen!