21 of the Best Volunteer Ideas for Groups

Our favorite ideas for volunteering as a group, from your backyard to the world at large.

Whether you coach a high school sports team, organize events for a retirement community, or lead HR for a tech firm, there are dozens of reasons you may want to find ideas for volunteering as a group. 

As we discussed in a recent blog, “Group volunteer trips are an excellent way to add meaning to travel, accomplish a specific goal and project—such as building a home or school classroom—and get to know the others in your group in new ways, forging closer, stronger relationships by working through shared challenges and accomplishing shared goals. Group volunteer experiences also open the door for a shared tradition and experience that can span years.

In this blog, we’ll discuss 21 different ideas for volunteering as a group. 

Before we dive in though, it’s worth mentioning that here at VISIONS we organize custom volunteer experiences for groups of all ages all year long! Maybe you’re a Spanish club looking to improve your language skills by volunteering in the Dominican Republic or Peru. Maybe you’re a member of a local environmental club, looking to learn more about ecology, conservation, and living off the land while volunteering with the Blackfeet Indians of Montana.

Regardless of your goals, we can use our 30+ years of experience organizing meaningful service adventures around the world to help you surpass them. Get in touch and let us know how we can design an impactful volunteer experience for you!

If you’re looking to organize a recurring volunteer experience closer to home, or just want to know what’s out there, here are 21 group volunteering ideas.

1. Community Clean-Ups

This is one you can do anywhere, anytime. Unfortunately, littering is still a significant issue in most of the world, but it’s fairly easy to organize a community clean-up day to enhance your local environment. This is true whether you live in a rural area or a major metropolitan destination. It could involve picking up refuse in city parks, along the streets and sidewalks, or at a local beach. Ensure you work with local authorities or environmental organizations to ensure proper disposal of any collected waste.

2. Housing Builds

Another common group volunteering activity is helping to build affordable housing for those in need. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity operate across the United States and make it easy to sign your group up for builds year-round. This hands-on experience not only helps families in need but also fosters teamwork and camaraderie among group members, and although certain aspects of the work require technical knowledge and/or a modicum of physical fitness, there’s something for just about everyone to do, from young children to the elderly.

3. Food Bank Assistance

Volunteer at a local food bank to sort, pack, and distribute food to those in need. Many hands make light work, and your group can significantly contribute to alleviating hunger in your community. This sort of work is hands-on but generally not very physically demanding, so it’s easy to make volunteering at a food bank a regular event even amid a packed schedule, organizing short stints before school or after work, for example. You could even organize your own meal delivery service, just like Ashlin, a VISIONS alum!

4. Senior Citizen Outreach Programs

Connect with local senior centers to organize activities, companionship visits, or assistance with daily tasks for the elderly. This not only provides valuable services for people in need but also creates meaningful connections across generations. You might be surprised by the life lessons you may learn from someone from an older generation, not to mention the incredible stories they may have to share!

5. Environmental Conservation Projects

Engage in tree planting, invasive species removal, wildlife management, or other conservation efforts. Ensure you partner with local environmental organizations to identify projects that are needed in your area and that you have the resources and skills needed to accomplish them successfully and legally.

6. Animal Shelter Support

Help out at a local animal shelter by walking dogs, cleaning kennels, or organizing adoption events. Animal shelters are often in need of extra hands, the work is non-technical and not physically demanding, and your group can make a significant impact on the well-being of animals awaiting adoption. Like serving at a food bank, animal shelter volunteering can easily be accomplished around a tight schedule in short windows.

7. Literacy Programs

Reading isn’t just a crucial skill for employment, it’s also proven to support a positive, healthy life. Research has shown that as little as six minutes of reading a day can reduce stress by a whopping 68%. With the advent of TikTok and other ADHD-spawning social media apps, old-fashioned reading is going by the wayside. Show support for literacy initiatives by volunteering at local schools or libraries. Offer tutoring services, organize book drives, or assist in literacy events to promote education within your community.

8. Community Garden Projects

Join or initiate a community garden project. This sustainable endeavor not only promotes environmental awareness but also provides fresh produce for local residents. Building a community garden is a rich, deep, and meaningful service initiative because you can grow and improve on it for years to come, eventually even passing it down to other members of your group and younger generations.

9. Disaster Relief Assistance

Train your group to respond to disasters by volunteering with organizations like the Red Cross. Learn about disaster preparedness, and be ready to assist in relief efforts. Take courses like Wilderness First Responder (WFR) or Wilderness First Aid as a group to bond and ensure you’re ready if and when the need arises.

10. Homeless Shelter Aid

Volunteer at homeless shelters by serving meals, organizing clothing drives, or offering skills workshops to help individuals transition out of homelessness. Like food banks and animal shelters, homeless shelters are present in just about every city in America, and it’s easy to integrate group volunteer efforts into a packed schedule. Even one or two hours a week can make a big difference to individuals suffering from homelessness.

11. Youth Mentorship Programs

Young people are the light of the future, and with the effects of climate change growing each year, it’s more important than ever that our youth believe in themselves and realize that they have the power to effect positive change on the world around them. That’s why we focus so heavily on teen service adventures

Connecting with local schools or youth organizations to establish (or volunteer with) mentorship programs is an immensely worthy goal. Share your knowledge and experiences with young people, providing guidance and support as they navigate their educational and personal journeys.

12. Special Olympics Assistance

Volunteer at Special Olympics events to support athletes with intellectual disabilities. This inclusive experience promotes teamwork, empathy, and a sense of accomplishment for both volunteers and participants.

13. Art and Creative Workshops

Organize art, music, or creative workshops for the disabled, homeless, impoverished, or other underserved individuals. These activities not only provide a positive outlet for self-expression but also foster creativity and confidence.

14. Hospital and Healthcare Volunteering

Offer support at hospitals or healthcare facilities by assisting with administrative tasks, providing companionship to patients, or organizing activities that contribute to the well-being of patients and their families.

15. Refugee Resettlement Support

Assist in the resettlement of foreign refugees by offering language classes, job search assistance, or cultural integration support. Collaborate with local refugee organizations to provide a welcoming environment for new arrivals.

16. Community Health Fairs

If you have the proper training, consider hosting or volunteering at community health fairs to provide health screenings, wellness information, and resources. This initiative contributes to the overall well-being of the community and encourages a proactive approach to health.

17. Technology Literacy Programs for Seniors

Bridge the generation gap by organizing technology literacy programs for seniors. Teach them how to use smartphones, tablets, and computers to stay connected with loved ones and access valuable information. As we mentioned above, you’ll be surprised by the life lessons you may learn from someone from an older generation.

18. Crisis Hotline Support

Undergo training to provide support on crisis hotlines. This volunteer opportunity requires empathy, active listening skills, and a true commitment to helping individuals in need, but is often truly a lifesaving effort.

19. Sustainable Living Workshops

Educate your community about sustainable living practices by organizing workshops on recycling, reducing waste, and adopting eco-friendly habits, promoting environmental consciousness and contributing to a more sustainable future.

20. Community Sports Events

Organize or volunteer at community sports events to promote physical activity, camaraderie, and community spirit. This could include charity runs, sports tournaments, or fitness challenges for a cause. This is a particularly good idea for a sports team or other fitness-focused group with skill and knowledge about a specific sport or physical activity.

21. Global Outreach Programs like VISIONS

Last but not least, you can consider participating in international volunteer programs like VISIONS to address issues in communities outside of your own. This could involve building schools, providing medical assistance, or supporting community development projects. Check out our service adventures at the link below to learn more, or visit our custom volunteer program page and get in touch to begin designing an impactful experience to suit your goals!

VISIONS in The New York Times