40 Ways To Volunteer In Columbus Ohio
Do more good, in real life, by volunteering in Columbus!
We all have things we care about, whether it’s animal welfare, education, helping people in poverty, supporting kids, caring for the environment, or something else. It can be discouraging to see things you want to help, but not know how. We can point you in the right direction to do more good, in real life. You’ll be taking action for something you care about which always makes you feel better, you’ll meet new people, and feel more connected to the beautiful community of Columbus.
There are a ton of awesome organizations to get involved with in Central Ohio, and you can find hundreds of volunteering events on POINT—you can download the app for free on the App Store or Google Play.
Volunteer with animals
Are you paws-itively crazy about pets? Same, girl, same. There are so many amazing options to protect the well-being of pets and wildlife, getting you your fluffy friend fix AND get community service hours if you need them.
COLUMBUS CHARITIES TO HELP ANIMALS
Colony Cats is a no-kill cat and dog rescue that runs a cage-free cat adoption center (there are cats everywhere–it’s amazing) and TNR (trap, neuter, return) programs.
Dreams on Horseback provides therapeutic riding and equine education programs to people with special needs, people with Alzheimer’s disease, and veterans.
Columbus Pet Rescue takes in and cares for stray, abandoned and neglected cats and dogs and rehabilitates them so that they can find new happy homes. Plus, they have their own Youtube channel of cute animal videos! Adorable.
Pets without Parents is a no-kill cat and dog shelter whose goal is to get animals to their furr-ever home. *Goes in to volunteer* *Walks out with 7 dogs and 5 cats*
Humane Society of Madison County provides medical care, shelter, and socialization for stray and surrendered dogs and cats. They have a “Fresh Start Training Program” that pairs inmates with homeless dogs as they turn sad and scared dogs into obedient and happy pups! We call that a win-win.
Still not sure what volunteering to help animals looks like? Here are some ideas, or you can sign up for animal volunteering opportunities on the POINT app!
- Donating supplies to a shelter
- Taking shelter dogs for walks and giving them baths
- Playing with kittens
- Socializing animals
- Running adoption events
- Fostering a puppy
- Cleaning up a shelter
Volunteer to help people in poverty
We’ve all had those weeks where your paycheck is stretched pretty thin. But there are 1 in 5 Columbus residents living below the poverty line. You need money for quite literally everything—laundry, public transit, school fees, food, shelter, clean water, internet, etc. You can help lift some of the intense pressure of financial stress by volunteering for organizations that support those in need. When more people in our community have the money they need to live, it helps all of us.
COLUMBUS CHARITIES TO END POVERTY
Godman Guild Association builds pathways out of poverty for individuals in Columbus by providing programs that enhance their social and economic mobility.
Furniture Bank of Central Ohio’s vision is for all central Ohio families to live in furnished homes, thereby strengthening family units, improving quality of life and building a better community.
Fairy Goodmothers provides formal dresses and accessories to girls who can’t afford them, allowing them to take part in their proms and feel beautiful and confident.
Habitat for Humanity MidOhio has been bringing the dream of homeownership to families in need. Families are carefully selected based on many factors and then they work with Habitat on constructing the home. Habitat also constructs playhouses for children, which is so fun! Volunteering with Habitat is like a workout + an HGTV show IRL + a way to do good all in one. Amazing.
IMPACT Community Action aims to reduce poverty by providing real opportunities for self-sufficiency. The main component of the service they provide is job opportunities and home utility assistance. Let’s help people become #independent!
Still not sure what volunteering to help people in poverty looks like? Here are some ideas, or you can sign up for more volunteering opportunities on the POINT app!
- Help kids build self-esteem and confidence in a trauma-sensitive environment with after school programs by the Godman Guild
- Help families create a homey space with pieces from the furniture bank
- Build playhouses for children to have their own space to grow and imagine
Volunteer to end hunger
Can you imagine not knowing where your next meal was coming from? As someone who starts thinking about my lunch at approximately 9:31am, my heart goes out to those facing food insecurity. Everyone needs food (obviously), but there are tons of people in Columbus without access to nutritious, affordable food. These charities work to end hunger in Columbus, so bring out your inner foodie and do some good!
COLUMBUS CHARITIES TO END HUNGER
Family Mentor Foundation seeks to help the unmet needs of children in the community through programs like buddy boxes, which are meal and snack boxes given to children who qualify for free or reduced lunch on Fridays, so that they can have food to eat over the weekend.
The Miracle Garden provides creative and sustainable uses of vacant urban lots by transforming them into gardens, pavilions, and even an orchard!
Mid-Ohio Foodbank aims to provide efficient and effective ways for hungry people to meet their basic food and nutrition needs.
NNEMAP Food Pantry is a community-supported emergency food program that has the goal of creating a hunger-free community serving the near north side of Columbus.
Wagons Ho Ho Hobuilds 1000 wagons every December and fills them each with a Christmas dinner. They then distribute these wagons to families with children in dire need of food during the holidays. I dunno about you, but that would surely put me in the holiday spirit!
Still not sure what volunteering to end hunger looks like? Here are some ideas, or you can sign up for more volunteering opportunities on the POINT app!
- Plant and harvest at community garden
- Serve dinner to your community
- Go grocery shopping with friends and bring food donations to a pantry
- Build a wagon with Wagons Ho Ho Ho
Volunteer for community health initiatives
If doing 1000 jumping jacks could cure every illness and health concern that’d be cool…but since it can’t, we’ve got some other ideas for you. Whether you’re a health nut or a doctor, there are plenty of ways to promote healthy living and disease reduction on the Central Ohio community. You can ~ literally ~ save lives by volunteering at these charities.
COLUMBUS CHARITIES FOR HEALTH
American Red Cross, Ohio Buckeye Region helps people prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies. They provide everything from disaster relief, to CPR training, to emergency blood transfusions.
YMCA of Central Ohio encourages holistic healthy living, providing resources to be physically healthy, have a healthy family and have a healthy self-image through fitness, sports, and fun. They have so many offerings including programs for diabetes prevention, military programs, juvenile justice programs, and the LiveSTRONG cancer program.
Alzheimer’s Association Central Ohio Chapter is committed to meeting the needs of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia through family and clinical support, education, advocacy, and research.
American Cancer Society – Columbus saves lives by helping people stay well and get well, by funding research to find cures, and by fighting back against cancer. This includes helping people with their personal battles, funding research and working with lawmakers.
Sam’s Fans supports and enhances music and art therapy programs for seriously ill children and their families. They bring joy, color, and music to kids in a pretty scary place. WOW. We love it.
Equitas Health is one of the nation’s largest HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ+ healthcare organizations with services focused around medical care, retail pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, HIV/STI prevention, advocacy, and community health initiatives.
Still not sure what volunteering to help keep Columbus healthy looks like? Here are some ideas, or you can sign up for more volunteering opportunities on the POINT app!
- Cheer people on at annual Alz walk
- Donate blood or plasma
- Facilitate music therapy with Sam’s Fans
- Get CPR certified, in case of emergency
- Serve wine at the Cattle Baron’s Ball to raise money for the fight against cancer
Volunteer to support education
Shaping young minds to equip them to create a great future is pretty neat, and helping adults continue their education to fully participate in adult life and thrive in our communities is also really neat. You can volunteer to tutor kids at local schools, or even help fund education programs. Volunteering with kids is so important and always a blast–plus you never know who’s life you might change for the better (and it gives you an excuse to act like you’re 10 again!)
COLUMBUS CHARITIES FOR EDUCATION
See Kids Dream’s mission is to empower youth with skills, motivation, and confidence to make our world a better place. They work with educators and non-profits to create and support youth-driven service-learning programs for children 8-14. Teach them to do good while young!
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio provides mentors and summer camps for youth facing adversity. They build strong one-to-one mentoring relationships that serve as a foundation for positive impact and life skills learning.
HERO USA provides disadvantaged youth the opportunity to learn basic skills and safe practices for participating in various outdoor recreational sports such as kayaking, canoeing, skateboarding, and skiing. Spending time outside has been shown to improve physical and mental health, so getting kids of all ages and backgrounds outside is important, but it’s especially great for those who’ve got a hard home life.
MagLiteracy.org believes that literacy ends poverty and is working to ensure that those that want to learn to read have the resources, whether they are a child or adult. As a kid who grew up with her nose constantly in a book, this organization gets my whole-hearted support!
My Special Word supports kids and adults in recognizing their power to define themselves in discovering their special word that defines who they are or aspire to be. They empower people to think positively, speak positively, and behave positively.
Ohio Center for Law-Related Education’s mission is to improve society by developing citizens empowered with an understanding of our democratic system. They provide students with mock trials, moot court, We the People, and social justice programs. Democracy lives on when people understand their rights and the importance of good government!
Still not sure what volunteering to help keep Columbus healthy looks like? Here are some ideas, or you can sign up for more volunteering opportunities on the POINT app!
- Become a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor
- Teach kids how to snowboard
- Volunteer as a facilitator or a judge in a mock trial
- Help out at the See Kids Dream dinner gala
Volunteer for equal rights
Humanity thrives when we all understand that we are all created equal–no matter our race, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, or beliefs, we are all complex and beautiful humans. But we still have people in the US who are disadvantaged based on their race, sex, ability, and more, and there are plenty of groups working to achieve equality. If it bothers you that life isn’t fair, this is a great way to get involved and make the Columbus community more equitable.
COLUMBUS CHARITIES FOR EQUALITY
Legal Aid Society of Columbus is a nonprofit law firm that provides civil legal aid to low-income persons. They understand how difficult it can be to maneuver the law system without high-quality legal representation and aim to ensure equal justice under the law. (You don’t have to be a lawyer to volunteer but if you are, this is an amazing way to use your skills and build up our community.)
Equality Ohio advocates and educates to achieve fair treatment and equal opportunity for all Ohioans regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. They are working on a statewide nondiscrimination bill (Ohio Fairness Act) which would make gender identity or expression discrimination illegal and are working with communities of faith to help end LGBTQ inequality.
Columbus Center for Human Services, Inc. provides comprehensive support services for individuals with disabilities throughout the Central Ohio area. They aim to give them the resources to live independent, self-directed, and meaningful lives and to play a role in their community.
Still not sure what volunteering to promote equality in Columbus looks like? Here are some ideas, or you can sign up for more volunteering opportunities on the POINT app!
- Submit testimony or call legislators in support of the Ohio Fairness Act
- Assist with intake or document preparation at one of the Legal Aid Society of Columbus’s pro bono clinics
- Spend the day fishing with adults with disabilities
- Garden at the AccessABLE community garden and help people with disabilities grow their gardening abilities
Volunteer for the arts
If you can recite the past 3 Met Gala themes, know the difference between impressionism and expressionism, or thrive by immersing yourself in the arts and culture scene, volunteering for these charities is 100000% up your alley. You can promote arts and culture in Columbus, and provide a great outlet for people to express themselves, process emotions, discover new depth to themselves, and create beauty.
COLUMBUS CHARITIES FOR ARTS AND CULTURE
The Gahanna Area Arts Council helps Gahanna’s residents to embrace their inner artists and attract outside artists to Gahanna to support the local creative community.
Global Gifts is a certified fair trade retailer that supports artisans from over 40 countries by providing them with a market and enriches our community by providing access to products from all over the world.
Sing Me a Story Foundation’s mission is to bring the voices of children in need to the world through music. Children are able to write and illustrate stories about anything they want and then songwriters turn them into songs and send them back to the kids – they get their own original song!
Columbus Children’s Theatre aims to inspire, enrich and empower the imaginations of children and their families through live theatre and theatre education. Not to mention, they help kids build empathy for others by walking a mile in their shoes–through acting.
CityMusic Columbus presents concerts series featuring world-class musicians from diverse genres in Columbus and provides music programs for underserved kids. We hear it, and we’re here for it!
Still not sure what volunteering to support the arts in Columbus looks like? Here are some ideas, or you can sign up for more volunteering opportunities on the POINT app!
- Learn about and support fair trade, plus have a permanent go-to for gifts at Global Gifts
- Help with setup and/or tear down of the Gahanna Area Arts Council’s Arts in the Alley event
- The musically-inclined can volunteer their song-writing skills or band to bring a voice to a child in need with Sing Me a Story!
- Volunteer at a Columbus Children’s Theatre or CityMusic Columbus performances
Volunteer for environmental conservation
We all know there is no Planet B, and since we’ve only got 11 years to stop a total climate catastrophe, protecting and restoring our natural environment is more important than ever. If you worry about the future of our planet, get involved in hands-on conservation or environmental education with these awesome Columbus charities.
COLUMBUS CHARITIES FOR ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION
Columbus Recreation and Parks gives our community a chance to improve our physical and mental health, to develop our youth, to focus on our environment, and to make a positive impact on our city.
Sunbury Urban Farm strives to educate and inspire our community as to the importance of agriculture, sustainability, and environmental awareness. They offer summer camps to teach kids about farming and nature and host nature workshops.
Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW)’s mission is to keep the Olentangy River and its tributaries clean and safe for all to enjoy, through public education, volunteer activities, and coordination with local decision-makers.
Simply Livingconnects people to learning opportunities that promote community sustainability and environmental awareness.
Still not sure what volunteering for environmental conservation in Columbus looks like? Here are some ideas, or you can sign up for more volunteering opportunities on the POINT app!
- Help with invasive species removal and litter clean up at parks
- Plant trees to combat climate change
- Weed, water, harvest and plant at a garden
- Be a nature camp counselor and teach kiddos about the earth
- Clean up a river while kayaking