Volunteer Your Unique Skills Locally
Nonprofits are always looking for help, and it might not be in the categories you think. Do they have social media channels that need updating? You’re awesome at that! Do they need pictures of their building or a logo? Channel those design/photography abilities! Do they need someone to help them with their budgeting? Break out those Excel spreadsheets! As a bonus, you’ll be getting relevant experience—not that that’s the only reason you’re doing it, of course. If all else fails, volunteer to fill up your Way Out Waistpack and hand out flyers where you live.
There are other surprising ways you can help others, and you’ve probably never thought about them before. Take Be My Eyes, for example: If you’re sighted, you can volunteer to help a blind or low-vision person who needs visual assistance on a live video call. It’s exactly this type of opportunity that you might need to research a bit but provides an essential service without physically going anywhere.
Some other ideas to get you thinking: If it’s safe, go to your dog and cat rescue and offer to spend some time with the animals. Load up a Chill Break and hand out water bottles to volunteers. Or, take supplies packed by your local charity and deliver them directly to people who need it.
Write a Letter to Your Representative
Besides voting, the most important way to let your representatives know how you feel is to actually tell them. Lots of people, teens included, forget that they can reach out to the people who speak for them, including Congressmen and women, governors, mayors, state representatives, and city/town councilors. This could be a form on a website, a phone call about a particular issue, or a handwritten letter to their office address.
This can be done collectively, as part of a college group—this helps demonstrate the volume of people who care about a particular cause, from climate change to racial justice. But it still packs a punch when you do it yourself, particularly if you follow up. Once you get the ball rolling, you might find other ways to speak out, volunteer, or otherwise petition where you live.
Find Everyday Home Items to Donate
If staying at home during the pandemic has been good for anything, it’s discovering what items we actually use...and which ones we totally don’t. You’ll be surprised how many things fall into the latter category if you just look around your room. Ignore the skis and bike that you might break out when the weather’s nicer and you can travel. Think about the clothes, supplies, and other stuff you’ve outgrown or just don’t need anymore. Stuff them all into a Big Campus Backpack and march them down to the nearest Goodwill, if they’re taking supplies (check first!). Look for other local charities like shelters that might need them but not be advertising. And there are nonprofits that focus specifically on school supplies, like UNICEF, or clothes, like Dress for Success.
E-Volunteer by Calling Donors or Writing Thank You Notes
A nonprofit always needs help with stewardship: developing a relationship with its donors and communicating how the funds are being spent. Reaching out to potential donors is another key aspect to keep the nonprofit up and running. It’s time-consuming work, but it’s also something you could potentially do from your home or dorm. If the nonprofit has a list of donors and a script, it’s easy to cold-call people and ask politely if they’re interested in giving. Don’t like talking on the phone? Instead, ask the nonprofit if you can write out handwritten thank you notes to donors who’ve already given.