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Top 20 Ideas for Giving Back this Holiday Season

Giving back during the holidays doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. From donating goods and services to volunteering your time and skills, we’ve compiled a list of 21 ways that you can get involved and give back to your community this holiday season. 

Volunteer Your Time

Volunteering is one of the most impactful and accessible ways to give back to your community during the holidays. Volunteering is something you can do on your own or get a group of people together to help make an even greater impact.  Check this out to search for volunteer opportunities near you. 

  1. Volunteer at an animal shelter – Animal shelters have been significantly overrun this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of new pet owners. Sadly, this also means that more pets than ever are being given to animal shelters. This is a great opportunity for animal lovers to show these furry friends how special they are this year. 
  2. Volunteer as a tutor – If you have experience with education, offering a free tutoring session is a fantastic way to kick off the holiday season. Not sure where to begin? Try listing an event on GivePulse where you can keep track of people who have registered, add virtual meeting links, update the tutoring schedule, and share the links on social media. Check out this step-by-step guide to help you plan your next event.
  3. Volunteer to foster a pet – Animal shelters fill up quickly during the holidays because of how many people are gifted pets during the season who are unable to take care of them. Extend your holiday spirit to a four-legged friend and help give them the holiday season they deserve. 
  4. Volunteer virtually – It is much easier now than ever before to help out your favorite organization from the comfort of your home – that means even more volunteer opportunities to choose from! To find fantastic virtual volunteer opportunities, filter your search by Virtual and Remote opportunities. 

Donate Goods or Services

Donations of any kind, be it money, goods, or services, can make a positive impact in the lives of many people, this impact is especially great during the holidays. While it’s always wonderful to donate directly to a nonprofit yourself, there are a number of other ways to give back that are creative, productive, and supportive. 

  1. Donate items to your local shelter – Donating clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and essential items like soap and toothpaste is a great way to give back during the holidays. Take a couple of hours to go through your closets and uncover the hidden gems you are ready to part with. Consider calling your local shelter to see what they need before making the trip. Wherever it is you choose to donate, don’t forget to log your impacts in GivePulse! 
  2. Donate toys to a local toy drive – Reduce waste while giving children gifts during the holiday season by donating toys. If there isn’t a local toy drive in your area, why not organize your own? GivePulse is a great place to start – learn to easily create fundraising events and manage donations from one location. 
  3. Donate old textbooks – Textbooks. We all know how hard they are to find used and how expensive they are to buy new. Donating textbooks helps students further their education without shouldering the burden of another added expense. Consider donating your textbooks to places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, or your local thrift store.
  4. Donate your skillset – A skill you have might be a skill someone would love to learn but doesn’t have access to. Your expertise could also be used to assist someone in need with a project. Donating your time and skills to teach something you are passionate about or help someone in need will have a lasting impact on everyone involved. 
  5. Donate services to a local homeless shelter – People living at homeless shelters are often in the process of navigating the complexities of job searches, setting up a bank account, filling out lease applications, and more. Offer to lend a hand with the process however you can – interview preparation, resume writing and review, walking them through application processes can be immensely helpful. 
  6. Ask family and friends to donate to a cause of your choosing – Looking for a way to amplify your donation’s impact? Encourage friends and family members to match a donation you’ve made to your favorite organization(s) in lieu of giving gifts.

Raise Awareness 

Rallying your friends and family around a mission you support amplifies the impact of your work and engagement. Whether it’s encouraging civic activism or running a 5K in a group, the more people who learn about your cause, the more people who will engage with the message. 

  1. Run a 5k –  Virtual and in-person holiday themed 5ks like this one are held everywhere by amazing organizations in support of even better causes. Get a group together to participate in one this season to show support for a cause you care about. If running isn’t your thing, but you still want to participate, there are other ways to get involved like volunteering to be a timekeeper or handing out water bottles and finisher medals.
  2. Get out and vote – Voting is one of the most effective ways to let your voice be heard. Remember to vote in your local and state elections, research the candidates, and encourage your friends and family to do the same! Pledge to vote here and receive reminder emails about upcoming elections. 
  3. Help share impactful stories – Have you ever met someone in your community and were so impressed by their story? Is there a business owner or teacher that you admire? Take some time to use your social media platforms to share their story  and to show your appreciation.
  4. Leave positive reviews for your favorite local shops- Sharing a positive review on Yelp or Google Reviews means the world to small businesses. It helps them to gain new customers, and lets them know that they’re doing their best to retain current clientele. Let them know how much you love their products or services by leaving a stellar review that will be sure to have people heading their way. 

Community Building

You can’t build a strong, supportive community without getting to know the people you share it with. Showing up to support local businesses, or writing a personalized note to someone you admire is a great way to spread positivity and holiday spirit throughout your community.

  1. Get to know your community – If you are interested in community engagement but don’t know where to start, or maybe are new to your area, here are a few places you can go to find community events near you! Consider hosting a holiday potluck for your neighbors, offer to shovel neighbors’ driveways, rake leaves, mow the grass, or even help set up outdoor decorations. 
  2. Pay it forward – Next time you’re in line getting a coffee, offer to pay for the order of the person in the car behind you. You never know how much this will impact their day, and more often than not, your simple action will keep on giving. 
  3. Create a giving tree – Giving trees not only support children and families, they can also bring your community together. Call a local shelter and ask if there are any families in need. Write what the family needs on cards and hang the cards on a tree at your local gym, office, or library for the community to donate items. This event can be held in person or virtually. To learn how to create your own giving tree event click here.
  4. Organize a park cleanup – During the holiday season, parks and public spaces are frequently used for gatherings and events. Take a load off of the parks department and spend some time cleaning up the area for all to enjoy during the holiday season. 
  5. Write nice notes for your colleagues, classmates, roommates, neighbors – This super fast, affordable, and thoughtful idea will bring happy tears to the eyes of your loved ones. Gather up paper, glitter, markers, and anything else to make the notes unique. Think about this person and what you admire about them, or think of a time they did something thoughtful for you and let them know how much you appreciate them. 
  6. Support essential workers – Show your gratitude for public transportation workers, grocery store clerks, fast food workers, delivery drivers, hospital staff, and more by leaving a generous tip, buying them food, or leaving water and snacks for them on your porch. 

We hope these ideas inspire you to get involved and give back to your community this holiday season. If you would like assistance with hosting your own event or finding opportunities and organizations to support, please reach out – we’d love to connect

About the Author

Olivia Corcoran is the Communications and Marketing Intern at GivePulse. She has a background in Liberal Arts and Sciences and experience in the nonprofit space. When she’s not cooking or painting, you can find her watching 1990s horror movies and keeping her plants alive through midwest winters. Olivia also enjoys collecting beach glass, making soup, and photography.

Published in Giving Nonprofit Management