Filed under: volunteering
June 17, 2013
With summer here, we know a lot of you want to learn more about traveling for good! There are many different ways to help out abroad with a small amount of free time over the summer and different nonprofits offer different opportunities. The Top-Rated groups below offer various chances to travel while volunteering. Take a look, and see if one of these nonprofits is a good fit for you.
And if you are scheduled to do some traveling with a nonprofit already, share your story when you get back by writing a review! Your review will help others decide if volunteering abroad is a good fit for them.
2013 Top-Rated Nonprofits Offering Travel Opportunities
Countries/Regions Served: Guatemala
Mayan Families provides opportunities and assistance to the indigenous and impoverished people of Guatemala, through education and community development programs.
“My only regret is that I could not have spent longer in Panajachel with Mayan Families. While there, I was a part of their medical and dental clinics for many different villages, and I also came home with a beautiful puppy that they had rescued through their animal welfare program.”
A Broader View
Countries/Regions Served: Belize, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Ghana, Uganda, Cameroon, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Nepal, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines
A Broader View Volunteer Corp. was created on the belief that one person can make a difference in the lives of others. The US office is operated by a staff with almost 20 years combined travel and hospitality experience.
“Many of the “volunteer” programs we looked at for our daughter were cost prohibitive and had many time constraints. ABV made it possible for her to experience a different culture and, at the same time, volunteer in ways that she never would have otherwise.”
Global Volunteer Network Foundation
Countries/Regions Served: Africa, Asia and Latin America
Global Volunteer Network Foundation works to empower women and children by providing financial resources to grassroots organizations working with vulnerable women and children in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
“Climbing to Everest Base Camp is something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life and I can’t imagine better people to have done it with. I will be doing more programs with GVN in the future and highly recommend it for anyone who wants to step outside their comfort zone and try something new.”
2012 Top-Rated Nonprofits Offering Travel Opportunities
Child Family Health International
Countries/Regions Served: Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, India, Mexico, South Africa
Working at 20 different sites in six countries, Child Family Health International partners with universities and medical professionals. The organization aims to help students explore what health care and public health provision is like in developing countries. CFHI also creates social entrepreneur opportunities for local communities that are able to host and teach students from afar about local culture, realities, illness and wellness.
“It was one of the best rotations of my medical school career. Getting the opportunity to perform a number of procedures while also seeing what healthcare challenges another culture faced allowed me to develop tremendously as a doctor and person in the beginning stages of my career.”
Countries/Regions Served: Latin America
Pro Mujer empowers women in Latin America to gain the financial independence, knowledge and self-esteem they need to become agents of change at home and in their communities. Their services include small loans, savings and insurance, business and empowerment training, preventive health education and high-quality, low-cost primary healthcare.
“While part of the Junior Committee I was able to travel to Nicaragua and meet some of the women and families that benefit from the services that Pro Mujer provides. There is no doubt in my mind that thousands of individuals have gained invaluable skills and self-confidence through Pro Mujer, and that they have become an integral part of their local economies as a result.”
Want to help Pro Mujer and Child Family Health International become Top-Rated again for 2013? Write a review of their work!
April 5, 2013
It’s Earth Month, and we have some great ways to get kids involved! Earth Month is the perfect time to get kids into appreciating the natural world and taking care of their planet. Here are some ways to celebrate!
1. Take a hike, and clean up!
Get outside and get moving–hikes are an easy way to show kids the wonders of their own backyard and with spring here, you might get to take in blooming flowers and wildlife. Many local nonprofits hold programs in parks and natural areas. Local nonprofits are also responsible for stepping up and helping out state parks during budget cuts. Find a local environmental nonprofit near you.
If you live near a beach, river or lake, chances are, a local nonprofit needs your help for its next cleanup! Many organizations ramp up their cleanup efforts for April. Don’t live near water? You can still pitch in to clean up in your own backyard at your local park, school or playground!
2. Visit an Animal Rehab Center
Get access to some amazing wildlife while learning about how humans affect wild animals and their habitats near you. Visit a raptor center, like Cascades and witness eagles and owls up close. Live near the water? Find a marine mammal center, like the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA, to see how trash can entangle sea creatures, and how to help.
3. Go to a Car Wash
What kid doesn’t love being inside the car as it goes through a car wash? Why is it good for the environment? Car washes recycle their water, so much less water is used than when you run your hose at home to wash. And while your working on the car, check your tires, under-inflated tires can negatively affect your MPG, making your car less fuel efficient.
4. Start a Garden or Visit a Farm
Gardening is a fun, hands-on way to teach kids about the Earth and about healthy food. Grow your own veggies, or create a garden full of flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies! If your kids are into critters, start a compost bin and be sure to add lots of worms! Many nonprofits hold programs to educate urban farmers, like the Seattle Tilth Association. You could visit your local community garden for more inspiration. Many working farms give tours geared toward kids that show the effort and care that goes into growing healthy, local and fresh food while kids can engage with the farmers and animals.
5. Feed the Birds
Make your yard or balcony a haven for hungry wild birds. Set up a bird feeder and keep track of your visitors. There are many local Audubon Societies that give local birding walks as well and can help you identify the birds at your feeder. Take a walk around your neighborhood one morning and try to see how many birds you can identify. Believe it or not, the local dump is actually a favored birding spot as well. Some dumps and recycling centers offer tours. (Also a great place for kids to see how waste adds up.)
6. Recycle Your Clothes and Toys
Now is a great time to do some spring cleaning. If you end up with a mountain of clothes that no longer fit your kids, or toys that they have outgrown, consider donating them to those in need. It’s easy to have kids help out. Gather all of your donations in a recycling bin and head to your local Goodwill together. Many local groups also accept clothing and toy donations for those in need.
7. Ride a Bike
Instead of driving to run errands, try riding bikes together to local shops. You’ll save gas, get exercise and help the environment. Many bicycle nonprofits advocate for bikers’ rights and/or offer safety courses for riders, like The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
8. Read a Book–or Write One!
Take a trip to your local library and check out some books about your local flora and fauna. (After all, the library puts ‘reduce reuse recycle’ into action every day!) Have a writing session with your kids and create some art about the Earth. Nonprofits like River of Words in Berkeley, CA work to foster both literacy and environmental stewardship through poetry.
9. Go to a Farmers’ Market
Get some tasty local fruits and veggies at your farmers’ market. Most markets will let kids sample lots of different foods. Talk with the farmers and ask about how they grow their produce. Bring your reusable bags and ask for recipes too! Then have the kids help out with preparing a meal with the fruits and veggies you buy.
10. Make a Reusable Bag
Don’t have bags for the market? Use an old t-shirt and make a reusable bag! Kids can have fun decorating it.
Know of a great environmental nonprofit doing work near you? Write a review and let other folks know about it!
March 18, 2013
When was the last time you checked in on a neighbor? Been awhile? According to a new survey published in Atlantic Monthly, you aren’t alone.
The survey showed that, regardless of income level, the one community resource that most people felt they lacked was “kind, supportive neighbors.”
And community and environment can actually play a role in overall health and happiness.
How connected are you to your local community? Can you name a local nonprofit helping your community? See what happened when we asked some locals to name a nonprofit near them.
Find an organization in your community using our thousands of city pages. Start here with our zip code search. If you’ve spent time at a local nonprofit, share your story here by writing a review.
March 15, 2013
Feel like you don’t have the time to volunteer? A study published in Psychological Science revealed that doing something nice for others can actually give you a sense of having more time to spend.
When folks take the time to help someone else, they know it’s time well-spent. The study showed that when people feel like they’ve done something worthwhile with their time, however busy they may be, they also feel like they have more time.
Spending time on others actually gave subjects in the study more feelings of “time affluence” than actually having more free time. The study also compared feelings of time affluence after subjects simply wasted time or spent time on themselves. Doing for others won out.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your schedule, one of the most effective ways to feel like you have more time is to spend it helping others. Why not find a new place to volunteer near you?
Find a nonprofit that needs help near you. (We make it easy with our zip code search.)
Giving your time may just help you as much as your community.
February 8, 2013
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, there’s no better time to show your local nonprofits some love. Want to make it a date? We’ve got some great, romantic ways to give back:
Go for a romantic walk–with a shelter dog: Many homeless puppies and dogs in animal shelters spend the bulk of their time in cages. Sign up to spend some time walking dogs together at a shelter.
Donate to your valentine’s favorite charity: Can’t volunteer together? Give your partner a gift card with money to put toward any charity he/she likes, or, make a donation in your partner’s name to a favorite cause. Find charity gift cards at JustGive.
Cook for those in need: Not into the packed restaurant scene on Valentine’s Day? What about cooking a wholesome, hot meal for those in need in your neighborhood instead? Sign up together to cook or distribute food to the needy for a night.
Get the kids involved, or volunteer to help kids in need: Do your kids love making valentines? Why not deliver some to an elderly home? Or, do you both love working with kids? Volunteer together to mentor children in need.
Build something together: Work on a project together; it could be helping out at a Habitat for Humanity site, getting your hands in the dirt planting trees or helping school kids make art projects. Get creative!
Do you plan on volunteering this Valentines Day? Let us know how in the comments.
January 31, 2013
The idea of volunteerism has been around for a long time, even the word “volunteer” has been in use since the 1700s. We know you love to help out and lend a hand with nonprofits near you, but we bet you didn’t know that these historical figures were big volunteers too!
Ben Franklin – He created bifocals and was one of America’s Founding Fathers, but did you know he also created the very first volunteer fire department? You’ve likely heard Franklin’s famous quote, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Franklin brought together a group of 30 men in 1736 to form the Union Fire Company to prevent massive fires in Philadelphia.
January 11, 2013
Are you making a New Year’s Resolution to be happier and healthier this year? We’ve got some tips for you to make 2013 your most successful year yet.
As the new year begins, surround yourself with the things in your life that make you happy: friends, family, pets. Think about what you are grateful to have, rather than what you don’t have. Also, be sure to show gratitude to others; has your staff been working overtime? Studies show that showing gratitude to your employees can improve work performance.
Take Time for Yourself
Don’t let your hectic schedule get in the way of taking a little time for you. Take a break. What would you do with some more ‘you’ time? Spend time with your kids, maybe volunteering?
Turn off the TV
A study from the University of Maryland correlates TV watching with lower levels of happiness. So turn off the tube and get out there! Take a walk in the park, read a book or try something new. If you watched one less hour of TV a day, what could you accomplish?
December 12, 2012
Today is 12/12/12, the century’s last sequential date. We’ve come up with some fun ways for you to celebrate this historic day!
How did you celebrate 12/12/12?
1. Write a review of a nonprofit!
2. Commit to do one good thing a month for 12 months
3. Kiss your kids 12 times each
4. Kiss your partner 12 times
5. Find 12 items of clothing that you don’t need anymore and donate them
6. Buy 12 bagels and drop them off at your local homeless shelter
7. Drop off 12 unwrapped toys at your local Toys for Tots location
8. Give 12 compliments!
9. Dance with someone for 12 minutes
10. Go for a 12 minute walk and breathe deeply
11. Donate 12 books to your local library
12. Donate to a nonprofit in multiples of 12
How did you celebrate? Let us know!
October 19, 2012
Want to help get your local charities some well-deserved extra attention? Interested in promoting local giving in your own community? Join our national team of Local Ambassadors!
GreatNonprofits has launched our Get Local campaign for 2012 to encourage local giving this season. Sign up to be a Local Ambassador with us and you’ll get to spread the word in your city about the best charities around. It’s a volunteer position (we’re a nonprofit too!) with a 2-5 hour a week commitment. We’ll give you all the tools you’ll need. Here’s what you’ll do:
Tell others about amazing nonprofits in your city!
- Highlight outstanding nonprofits via the GreatNonprofits microsite for your city
- Use email and social media to spread the word
- Reach out to local newspapers and blogs and let them know about exemplary local nonprofits
Why do it?
- Get great experience reaching out to local media
- Manage the GreatNonprofits microsite for your city. People will see your name and photo!
- Be a major help to your local nonprofit community, enabling it to do more good
- Be part of a nationwide grassroots effort to showcase small, local nonprofits
Check out our available cities.
Sound good to you? Contact Jessica@greatnonprofits.org
October 18, 2012
Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan recently got himself in hot water for “volunteering” at St.Vincent De Paul Society. Ryan may not have understood the true essence of volunteering at a soup kitchen, but you can. Below are our Top 10 Soup Kitchens to Volunteer For, according to reviews by volunteers!
Society of St. Andrew
SoSA uses tens of thousands of volunteers to glean farmers’ fields and orchards after harvest for nutritious produce that would otherwise be plowed under or left to rot
GNP users say – “SOSA is one of the best charities that we, as a family have volunteered in. The organizers are extremely personable and down to earth people. Children are not only accommodated but their participation is valued. Its so wonderful to be out there in an orchard or farm connecting to nature and you’re benefiting the hungry in the process.”
Northern Illinois Food Bank
Northern Illinois Food Bank aims to create a hunger-free northern Illinois by providing nutritious food to all those in need
GNP users say – “It is a privilege to help out at a food bank where the staff is setting the trends that other food banks follow. I always look forward to my next visit.”
Lombard Central Presbyterian Church Soup Kitchen
The soup kitchen provides food for those who are in need and also empowers them through partnerships with other community and social agencies
GNP users say – “This is a great service to the persons in need of the West Philadelphia area. They not only offer food, but medical information and limited screening, a warm place to be and even kinder individuals to staff it”
WhyHunger connects people to nutritious, affordable food while inspiring self-reliance and community empowerment
GNP users say – “This was a great learning experience, I was able to gain a better understanding how WHY connect grassroot groups all over the United States in order to efficiently counter hunger as well as poverty issues”
Center for Food Action
The Center for Food Action provides emergency food, housing, heating, and utility assistance to low-income people in northern New Jersey.
GNP users say – “I have volunteered at the Center all my life and have only the greatest respect for this charity. Their events are well planned and I especially enjoyed helping out at Christmas which is always well run. The Gala is an event I look forward to all year and am always happy with the party. The Center has found a way to remain relevant in a declining donating world and the work they do is remarkable”
Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen
The soup kitchen provides a hot meal to over 1,200 New Yorkers in need every day while counseling staff also work with guests to connect them with benefits, housing and job interviews.
GNP users say – “This soup kitchen feeds the hungry day in day out year after year–feeds them body and soul, including drumming circles and a writing workshop. It is a place where those who happen to need a square meal are treated with respect for their dignity and with authentic compassion”
East End Cooperative Ministry
The Ministry helps individuals and families throughout the East End community, helping people through some of the most difficult times they’ll ever experience.
GNP users say – “I find it truly rewarding to be able to volunteer and get to know the people that I help when I volunteer 3 days a week. I volunteer with a dedicated group of people that thoroughly enjoy providing 2 meals per day to our homebound Meals on Wheels clients, a hot lunch for our Soup Kitchen patrons and emergency groceries for our Food Pantry guest.”
SoupMobile is a non-profit mobile soup kitchen dedicated to feeding the homeless in the Dallas area.
GNP users say – “The SoupMobile is the most rewarding volunteering I have ever done. The best part is being right there with the homeless to hug them, talk with them, and just simply love them. I have learned so much by serving the homeless. Their boundless faith leaves me humbled. I am so grateful to David Timothy, a.k.a. SoupMan, for this amazing opportunity”
Food Bank of Central New York
The Food Bank of Central New York is a not-for-profit organization working to eliminate hunger through food distribution, education and advocacy in cooperation with the community.
GNP users say – “The Food Bank of Central New York is an incredible place. They took the idea of a food bank and made it so much more – not just handing out bags of food to local families in need (although they still do that, too). They coordinate large donations from local stores and businesses. They ship food to hundreds of food pantries, food banks, soup kitchens, shelters, senior centers, and emergency organizations throughout New York State. They have educational programs that teach people about nutrition, growing their own food, and give them the seeds and materials they need to keep going.”
The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) responds to the needs of hungry people in the Trenton area by providing meals to all those who are hungry, providing services to encourage self-sufficiency and improve quality of life, informing the wider community of the needs of the hungry and advocating for resources to meet these needs.
GNP users say - “I first became involved with TASK three years ago and have supported them throughout the years with food and clothing donations and have adopted families for the Christmas holidays. TASK is a wonderful organization. The people that work there, whether it be in the kitchen serving food, the social workers, or the Adult Education volunteers are all extremely dedicated and caring individuals.”