Your Guide to Volunteering in 4 Major Cities

The higher the population, the higher the opportunity. But when you live in a major city, the number of volunteer opportunities can be overwhelming. There are so many people and organizations in need of your help, making it even more difficult to choose where to spend your time, money and efforts. Instead of calling it quits before you even get started, browse through this list for helpful tips on how to get involved in your nearest city. You’ll be better for it.

1. New York City

According to a 2017 report by the Coalition for the Homeless, there are more than 62,000 homeless men, women and children in New York City who sleep in a shelter. Sadly, there are thousands who are not even in shelters. To help those in need, volunteer with Coalition for the Homeless. You can donate used or new goods to The Bowery Mission or Housing Works to help the homeless get back on their feet.

To invest in the future means we must invest in children. Ensure that children are given the same attention and care by volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters as a “Big” — a mentor for a child in need.

Find more volunteer opportunities here.

2. London

Shelter from the Storm is a free homeless shelter in London that is maintained year-round from donations alone. Donations aside, the shelter is always seeking volunteers to deep clean the kitchen and sleeping areas to ensure that guests feel clean — and at home — while there.  

Deepen relationships with those around you by becoming a Team Up tutor. This social venture charity pairs children from low-income families with a tutor (they call them “role models”) to solve the city’s educational disadvantage.

London, like most major cities, thrives on tourism. Get familiar with your city’s roots by taking a volunteer position at one of the city’s museums, including the Museum of London. Here, you can assist with events, act as a greeter and even catalog collections.

Find more volunteer opportunities here.

3. Toronto

The Star and Forum’s recent survey revealed that affordability is the major issue plaguing most Toronto locals. That means many people are struggling just to get by — and many are falling short. Volunteer your time at shelters like Haven Toronto and Covenant House.

Sometimes, the best way to volunteer is to use your voice — and athleticism — for good. Participate in one of the city’s many charity runs, especially Pauls Hamilton Marathon Road2Hope. If running a marathon isn’t your thing, you can also volunteer to help with set up, signage, registration, food, clean up and more.

Find more volunteer opportunities here.

4. Sydney

Like most cities, Sydney also offers many services for the homeless and struggling, including a Meals on Wheels program.

To become a mentor and friend to those who have disabilities, check out Gig Buddies, an organization that pairs a volunteer with a person with a learning disability and encourages them to go to events together. Yep, including rock concerts. And who knows, you might find a new BFF along the way.

Animal lovers in Sydney, listen up! Get involved with Sydney Dogs and Cats Home, an organization that’s been taking care of the city’s lost, abandoned and neglected pets since 1946. In addition to donating, you can also foster a pet or volunteer at the animal shelter.

Find more volunteer opportunities here.

Remember: It’s not just what you do, it’s why you do it. Every action — donating, fundraising and volunteering in person — is equally as valuable.


Amanda Garrity is a commerce editor and content producer living in New York City. She finds every excuse to go on an adventure, whether it's in her own backyard or across the country. She enjoys hiking, pretending she's a prima ballerina and drinking an abundant amount of coffee. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.