It Costs Nothing to Give Back: Volunteer Ideas for Everyone!

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
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“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi


Volunteering is a great way to broaden your perspective and discover new things about yourself; you can expose yourself to new environments and pick up skills you may have never considered learning before. And, of course, no matter where volunteering takes you, you can really make a difference.

As college students, there are so many ways we can incorporate volunteering into our lives. Whether it’s in a medical, community service, research, or environmental setting, there are opportunities everywhere. Here are some ideas to help you get started!

Local Opportunities

Chances are you don’t have to go far to find opportunities to give back; there are likely great organizations to support near where you live! Local animal shelters, food banks, and nature preserves are great places to begin looking; volunteers can always use an extra hand there. Your university might also offer great options for service clubs and if they don’t have one for a cause you’re passionate about, this is a great opportunity to start one and find fellow students who also share your interest in that cause!

National Organizations

Perhaps you don’t want to stay local, but you’re not quite so interested in applying for visas and leaving the country to start giving back. In that case, there are infinite volunteer opportunities throughout the United States in any and every field.

One source I especially like for finding volunteer organizations is, which provides an easy-to-use search engine that organizes opportunities based on state locations, types of housing accommodations offered, and other qualities. I would also recommend checking out these sites if you’re interested in volunteering in the US:

International Programs

There are volunteer opportunities in every corner and stretch of this world. International volunteer projects give you the chance to explore different cultures while giving back to them in meaningful and positive ways. If you’re interested in volunteering abroad, here are some great search engines to help you find the right fit:

Most universities also have international programs offices, which offer resources to help you organize and prepare for these types of opportunities. A quick visit could set all the gears in motion!

No matter how small or large-scale, nearby or far away, volunteer opportunities expose you to new environments and perspectives, letting you break free from familiarity and learn lessons that can’t necessarily be taught in a classroom setting. Whether you build volunteering into your weekly schedule or let it take you halfway across the world, there are so many ways you can start today!


“12 Great Quotes From Gandhi On His Birthday” Forbes, Accessed 3 Oct. 2019


Addie Joseph
Baruch College in Manhattan

After earning her ears at Disney, Addie moved on to study Journalism, Creative Writing, and Photography at Baruch College in Manhattan. She is interning for Macmillan Learning as a Student Ambassador, but in her spare time, you can find her tucked away in a café, crafting stories or editing photos and videos, with earbuds fixed firmly in her ears. Don’t be afraid to interrupt and say hello; she always enjoys meeting new friends (and perhaps indulging them with music recommendations too)!