Volunteer Opportunities for Young Adults

One of the universal truths about the world is that giving back—to others less fortunate or in need of special help—is a guaranteed way to feel good about yourself and the world in general. For young adults, giving means more than writing a check or donating used clothing. There is a desire among millennials to be personally connected to the charity or organization where they are giving their time and money. 

According to The Case Foundation:

  • Millennials engage with causes to help other people, not institutions.
  • Millennials are influenced by the decisions and behaviors of their peers.
  • Millennials treat their time, money, and assets as having equal value.
  • Millennials need to experience the cause’s work without having to be on-site.

Volunteer Match

A group of elementary age children are at the animal shelter and are learning about the animals.

FatCamera/Getty Images

Many young adults are so busy that finding philanthropic work takes a backseat to work, exercise, relationships, and other commitments. Just finding an organization that has opportunities that fit into their schedules can take hours of research. 

While some young adults are satisfied with giving money and then tracking where that money goes, others want a much more personal experience in giving back. Volunteer Match makes it very easy to find local, hands-on opportunities that suit their lives and specific skills or interests. Whether it's working with little children or planting a garden for an eldercare facility, there are many ways of giving back available on Volunteer Match.



Baby getting medical care


Founded by Chase Adams after a bus ride in Costa Rica while he was in the Peace Corps that opened his eyes to the needs of those who are poor and sick, Watsi is a digitally focused health nonprofit that is redefining charitable giving for millennials. Watsi offers real-time tracking of where money donated goes, from basic medical services to surgeries. Millennials want to know that their money is making a difference, and Watsi offers that reassurance.


Pencils of Promise



Pencils of Promise is an organization that puts all of its time and funds into education in Ghana, Guatemala, Laos, and Nigeria. Using social media to reach out to potential donors, pencils of promise encourages their benefactors to connect with others to increase giving and help to build schools, provide supplies and train teachers in these poor and undereducated countries.

Pencils of Promise has a "100% promise":

  • All money donated online goes directly to programs to educate more young people.
  • All of our Country Directors are residents of the country where they lead.
  • Pencils for Promise has a proactive process to ensure every school that is opened is educating students.

Water Is Life

Indian little girls carrying on their heads water from well

hadynyah / Getty Images 

Clean water is a huge problem for many places in the world.

Unsanitary water causes annually:

  • 1.4 million child deaths from diarrhea
  • 500 000 deaths from malaria
  • 860 000 child deaths from malnutrition

Water is Life is committed to providing solutions in villages and communities that are desperately in need of hygienic drinking water and sanitation. Opportunities to travel to countries and help build facilities to treat water are available, and volunteer positions are open for all levels of involvement. 

Water is Life is also committed to educating children and adults about the dangers of unclean water, and have partnered with The Hidden Dangers Project to create a video game that underscores threats to the safety of drinking water, which allows for education in a more approachable way.


Project Linus

Young man knitting at home

Leila Cromwell-Morgan / EyeEm / Getty images

Young adults are fully embracing the crafting, homemade culture. Everywhere you look you see young men and women knitting, crocheting and embroidering. Using those skills to make blankets for underprivileged children is what Project Linus is all about. Their annual Make a Blanket Day is the third Saturday in February, bringing awareness to communities of all the good Project Linus does. 

You can join a local chapter of Project Linus, which will widen your horizons by connecting you with other crafters, young and old while creating something special for children in need. 


Girls on the Run

Charity run

Caiaimage / Chris Ryan / Getty Images 

Girls on the Run is a volunteer opportunity for teaching young girls about the benefits of running while also mentoring them as community members. Women offer to become a buddy, pairing up with a young girl in their community to help them prepare to run a 5K marathon. What could be better than giving back and getting in some exercise at the same time?

1 Source
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  1. World Health Organization. How does safe water impact global health?

By Sharon Greenthal
Sharon Greenthal is a writer and editor who specializes in parenting, midlife, empty nesting, and marriage.